Alright, time to step back from the tabletop and babble a little about my online shenanigans.
Lately I’ve been playing what appears to be the current big new MMO title, Rift. It’s rough for me to hop into a new MMO these days; I have a jaded feeling of “been there, done that.” The last two major MMO’s I hopped into became major flops: Warhammer Online and Aion. To give Aion credit, I overall thought the game was OK — the graphics were beautiful, the launch was sweet and the world was pretty. Just, it suffered too much from a lot of repetition and grind. Some games, I don’t mind the grind as long as I have a change of scenery, a world to explore. I think I found every invisible wall in that damn game in my uphill climb to get to “the game”, and by the time I got there all of my friends and guildies had moved on.
Warhammer, on the other hand, was a game I loved at launch….but it quickly went downhill from that point on. I remember having to take a break from it 2 months in, because I was getting seriously over worked in it. It wasn’t a hard game by any stretch, and it was a fun game….so fun, I spent a lot of time in it. Maybe too much time. And since its focus was PvP, I spent a lot of that time in a very competitive state that made others around me miserable, since I am known to be a shit talker and, I’ll be honest, sometimes just can’t let go of a good grudge. Unfortunately, every time I go back to Warhammer….the population is lower, a lot of features are either bugged, unfixed, or removed completely….it’s just a messy pile of I don’t know what now.
So Why RIFT?
My universal drug of choice is Guild Wars. I don’t give a fuck about the arguments as to whether or not it’s a “true” MMO; the PvE content was fun (even if it was almost entirely instanced) and the PvP content was deep, required more skill than mashing keys, and had a build theory that was reminiscent more of Magic: The Gathering than Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, years of playing that title mostly (alongside a casual romp in WoW and its F2P clones) has left me bitter and jaded with the MMO industry. I have a major case of “Been there, done that.” Sure, I still have a LOT of titles I could grind up in Guild Wars, but, hate to say it I’d rather masturbate with sandpaper then grind for titles in, well, any game.
But RIFT drew me in. And I’m not sure why. It uses the same “tab-targeting, hotkey spamming” MMO style that’s been over played for the last decade of online rpg’s. The leveling is centered around the usual, familiar mix of things like “Quest Hubs” (you know, random towns with NPC’s standing around with markers over their head wanting to give quests?) that tell you to “Go Kill X Monsters, Bring me back Y items.”
But as I stuck it out during the betas, it not only grew on me, but also the company (Trion Worlds) grew on me as well. It’s obvious these guys weren’t out to reinvent the wheel; they just wanted to make a more awesome wheel, with scary hubcaps that look like they’re gonna saw you in half gladiator style. RIFT’s launch has been damn good; the Headstart for pre-orders was a bit shaky, but since Day 1 and on the Queues have been minimal. the servers have been rock solid, and when there is a hiccup they are quick to fix it.
I’m not going to give a full review of the game; mostly because I’ve been playing at a very relaxed rate since launch. You can find plenty upon plenty of reviews for it out there. But I will give proper nods to what I think makes the game stand out and appeal to me above others right now:
- Character Development: Four base classes (Fighter/Mage/Cleric/Rogue) and each class has 8 sub-classes (called “Souls”) (9 if ya count the PvP souls you can unlock) which each of those gives you a different, full talent tree of skills and features to level up and progress through. Even better, your character gets 3 of those classes at a time; and after you make to the teens, you can unlock the other 5 by some fairly easy questing. Oh, and you can unlock up to 4 builds to switch between in a moments notice….letting your single character effectively have 4 different roles to bounce between. For example, my lowly cleric right now is packing a leveling build focused around damage dealing spells and condition stripping; but when I join big groups for raids or PvP, I switch over to a healer roll just by clicking an icon.
- Lots of stuff to do: It’s not a purely open sandbox; but the game is pretty big and the hubs aren’t necessarily linear. While following quests will get you across to different places, I’ve been able to progress on and level in different areas as I chose, and made rounds to stave off repetition and boredom. There’s also a very nice diversity of mobs and enemies to fight, so the game doesn’t feel like I’m killing the same raptors over and over like WoW used to prior to Cataclysm.
- RIFT content: The namesake of the game is definitely worth checking out. In lower levels, the rifts that open up feel like the Public Quests from Warhammer….little events peeps can participate in to kill stuff and get loot. But as you continue to level, they get more intense, more random (not only in spawning, but the types of encounters and lengths of scenarios). And then there’s the zone events….where the whole area is being besieged by abberant invaders and it’s important for peeps to fight back invaders, close off the rifts and fight off the bosses. And yes, the invasions can fail, and I’ve seen quest hubs get over ran by attacking elites. What’s really fun about the rift invasions, though, is the feeling of community with it. Prime Time sees a lot of these invasions scaled to the numbers and levels of peeps in the zone, and you can easily find yourself running in full 20 person raids (thanks to the Public Group options) that can give even the casual players a taste of mass combat or raids.
As I play through and learn more, I’ll gladly give a formal review. But I will say any peeps who already enjoy MMORPG’s and are jonsing for a familiar game with a new twist, definitely give it a look.
I leave you guys with the unboxing video I did for the Collectors Edition. Good Gaming!