50 MMOs in 50 Days #39: Rift

Last played: 2014
Experience: Very Extensive

I knew Rift would be very “WoW-like” from playing in the beta. I was mostly OK with that, because one of the things that prevented me from getting into MMOs in the first place was the sense that I’d have to “play catch-up” with players who had been in the game for months or years. Even if we’re not talking getting pwned in PvP, the notion that everyone is going to know the dungeons and other PvE content inside and out by the time I take my first steps makes me feel inept. I liked that I could get into a game with a “fresh start,” along with everyone else.

And Rift did that. Sure, there were people who had hit the beta hard and were probably max level in a week or so, but there were enough people leveling at a reasonable pace that I didn’t feel overwhelmed or like I was a Grade-A Noob.

2011-03-19_172934We can talk about a lot of the issues with Early Access games, but I think this is a bit of an overlooked one. When a game like this “launches,” many players have been playing for months, if not years. Their progress will be wiped, so they’ll have to level/gear up again, but you can’t wipe the hundreds of hours of experience they gained learning their class and learning the game, even if those elements changed somewhat during alpha/beta. As such, I feel a little put off by playing a “new” game that’s had an extensive EA period, thinking I’ll be behind the curve as much as I would be if I got into a game that was several years old.

Back to Rift… As I played it, I found the regular questing content more and more tedious. I don’t know that I’d call it exactly a 90/10 game; 90% of the talk was about, well, rifts, and the dynamic nature of the game, and I suppose rifts were more than 10% of the game. But so much of the content was the same kind of linear quest-hub and dungeon progression that rifts started to feel more like they were in the way of the “real” content than that they were the content. I only did a few dungeons and some of the “rift raids,” before mostly bowing out.

Not having quest-hub content doesn’t make a game more difficult to understand, it just makes it different. Yes, I get that everyone is used to it, but only in MMOs. I don’t think all MMOs need to be the same, any more than all shooters or all RPGs or strategy games. You need to cover some basics, and you do have to do an excellent job of communicating that information and nudging players in the right direction, but most other genres of games don’t have them, so I just can’t believe that it can’t be done.

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2 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #39: Rift

  1. Rift is a strange case for me.

    On the one hand, it’s the WoW clone of all WoW clones. Even a lot of the lore and backstory seems to have been lifted directly from WoW. It’s also a game bereft of any colour or personality. Everything is just bland, by the numbers, and uncreative. Even the artstyle is incredibly generic.

    However, it is a damn near flawless mechanical execution of the stereotypical themepark MMO. It might not be creative or original, but it’s overflowing with just about every kind of content there is, and all of it seems to be incredibly well-polished and solidly executed. It’s also got one of the better free to play models around.

    I don’t enjoy Rift, because it is so bland, but I do respect it immensely for the quality of its execution. It’s one of those games I would recommend to people even though I personally extract very little pleasure from it. Guild Wars 2 is the same way.

    In an odd way, I think Rift could be one of the better arguments for video games as art. Rift is a fantastic game, but poor art, and that’s enough to turn me off of it.

  2. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #44: Star Wars: The Old Republic | Wintry Mix

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