Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Will Rift Focus Enough On Rifts And Souls?

The NDA has come down on the Rift Beta, and the blogosphere has jumped into action.  Trion gets major points in my book for having the confidence in their product to allow players to talk about it seemingly so early. (By contrast, Mythic carefully kept Warhammer's broken endgame hidden behind an NDA all the way up to release, and SOE is insisting on an NDA for EQ2's next expansion beta even though we learned today that the beta won't even start until about a month prior to release.)

Of the various posts, Keen's take on the alpha and beta stood out the most to me, in fairness perhaps because I'm jaded and skeptical and his is one of the more critical impressions I've seen.  In particular, his critique of the questing system as trailing WoW's in both quality and quantity stands out as a red flag.  

As nearly as I can tell, Rift's two major selling points are the dynamic content (though most people seem underwhelmed by the basic Rifts) and the use of the flexible "soul" class system to overcome challenging content.  Will Trion succeed in using dynamic content to add challenge and variety, with the regular quests taking a back seat as things you do when nothing else is happening?  If so, will they manage to communicate that focus to new players, or will the familiar seeming quest system draw newbies away from Rift's greatest strengths and towards unfavorable comparisons with a competitor that has spent an entire expansion cycle on perfecting the theme park quest? 

The good news is that these guys are really conveying the impression that they know what they're doing, which is how they've earned all the praise they're getting around the blogs.  I just hope that they can use their remaining beta time to get the game to a place where all these good sentiments won't be gone a month after launch. 


  1. They are still fiddling around with the Rift mechanics, how many mobs spawn, and how much it depends on players in the zone and all that.

    So far it never really worked out for me.
    Often it was a "who tags first" race for the minibosses, and it was either that the players overran the Rift and were fighting for the mobs or that the creatures drove the players away.

    Sometimes the invasions destroyed a quest hub, which I found somewhat annoying. So well, let's fight back the invasion or fight elsewhere and wait for the quest givers to return.

    The motes of sourcestone are used as a currency at planar goods traders, which I dare to say most players never found as there was only one in the entire zone, very few socketed their planar thingies or exchanged their motes for a blue quality weapon at level 15.

    Besides questing you can get quite good rewards for destroying Rifts that you will run into.

    I did not find the rather generic questing that bad. In fact it is less annoying than the extreme hand holding of WoW, it still amazes me that people dare to say this is the pinnacle of quest driven gameplay.

    So what are Rifts? Let's see, they will also be used for invasions of enemy territory like in Aion. But somehow this game looks so EverQuestish, even if they balance only the archetypes vs each other so that one soul combo works, and not all, it does not look like a great PvP game to me.

    I wonder what Rifts add to gameplay. They are not that "dynamic", and have a tendency to one-sided fights. So they are either mostly boring or annoying. It rarely happened that I got a "good" Rift where mobs and players had a "nice" battle. I really wonder if Rift farming for motes will become a regular group activity in Telara.

    While I am sceptical about the Rifts, I think the best thing about Rift is it a MMO that cares about the world. WoW does not, it cares for its quest driven bus tour script to "explore" Azeroth and then puts you into dungeon instances as the "endgame."

    While I am not sure how the "endgame" of Rift will turn out, it seems to be a MMO for MMO gamers, while WoW has become the Farmville of MMO gaming.
    Still, I probably won't buy it, even if I really like it. This might sound odd, but I am personally quite tired by DIKU MUDs. I also see little reason why those who enjoy WoW should leave for Telara, or why I should rather play Rift than LOTRO. When I would like to PvP I can see WAR or AION ahead of Rift, but maybe I will be proven wrong.

    GW2 is coming, and I hope that "dynamic" and "event" will have more to offer in this game than a Rift that spawns mobs.

    Rift is odd, I really like it, but still probably won't play it. Hard to describe, I tried above.

    As I am a screenshot nut, some of my commented Rift Beta screenshots

  2. I was in both beta events, and we have VIP keys so will be in the others as well.

    My initial impression was lukewarm, because yes it is another DIKU - but then the more I played, the more I realized it's a very well done DIKU. My aging PC ran it smoothly, and after 5 years of constant fiddling with graphical options in EQ2 I have to sell the smooth game play felt pretty nice.

    The quests are for the most part standard fare, but some are pretty imaginative. They flow well, and none were overly grindy. After complaints in beta1 that you could only gain experience from questing, they increased combat experience, and that opened up more variety. For my part, if I got tired of questing I sallied forth and explored, hopping in on rift fights, even creating rifts now and again when a tear opened. I even summoned some NPC guards when a major rift opened and no one else was around to help. The huge invasion during beta2 was an impressive feat of technology - hundreds of players on the screen and no lag. I have never in any MMO, let alone a beta, seen such a thing.
    (I didn't even have time to check out the crafting yet!)

    The soul system for me is incredible. The possibilities for different builds fascinate me, and as one who primarily duos with my SO I'm really looking forward to trying out different combinations.

    I don't play WoW or War, and in fact currently don't play any MMO, so maybe I'm not as jaded or skeptical as some others. While I really would like to see a well done sandbox MMO, none are forthcoming so far as I can tell. But, the bottom line is I ended up having quite a bit of fun in Rift, which for me is the ultimate litmus test.

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  4. >will the familiar seeming quest system draw newbies away from Rift's greatest strengths

    I think this defines the relevant difference between 'hardcore' and 'social' players; hardcore players are going to realize there are better things, and use them, and then those WoW-style players who people tend to gang up against are going to use the quest system and thus have unfavorable reviews.


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