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An Earthbound Perspective

Practical perspective on MMO play and practice.

Author: Dengar

Re-Rifted and Loving It!

Posted by Dengar Saturday August 27 2011 at 10:40AM
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With Rift's 1/2 Birthday here, I decided to give Trion a gift rather than receive one: resubscribing to Rift and bringing a few friends, at least for a month.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that Rift isn't my ideal game. They've added in a few things that went counter to what I wanted from a living, breathing world: constant grind updates for PvE and PvP, cross realm instant transport to dungeons, and (sort of) free weekly transfers off of shards. Still, I've played World of Warcraft for far too long. At this point, even breaks don't help, since the grind is very apparent. Much like a single player game, I tend to do things once in WoW and I'm done- no need to do it again on an alt. Not only that, but Trion does things better than Blizz these days.

First, updates are much faster in Rift, and bring a good chunk of changes. They can't compare to Asheron's Call 1 or 2's monthly updates or GM events, but they're not too bad. You at least get some new dailies (usually simple tasks you can do around town), plus content updates, which reminds me of sandbox games. For example, Rift has released increased security for player accounts, appearance tabs, world pvp dailies, and alternative war front (think BG) objectives from time to time- in 6 months. In that time, WoW's added... guild quests, something Rift launched with. WoWheads may say, "Hey, Blizz is adding appearance tabs, allow you to change your weapon, and will probably do wpvp dailies too!" This may be true, however, unlike Blizz, Trion gives players more freedom, and faster too. The appearance tabs (yes, plural- players can make up to 4 outfits without it taking up extra bag space) aren't restricted with some arbitrary "no silliness" rule. I've seen people running around looking like Mickey Mouse. If someone wants to do that, more power to them!

World PvP dailies and rifts are a lot like the world PvP events I have to try to organize in WoW on a weekly basis, and sometimes better when it's a rough month. The game puts objectives and a reward that is on-par with instanced content (maybe even better, since players seem to do their best to make sure they get done despite high ranks, something that WoW's "pvp zones" lack very much). This brings players from both factions into the hotspot, turning zones into something like the "glory days of Hillsbrad" (which was essentially zerg vs counter-zerg). The system especially shines when you add in the PvP Rifts- think capture the flag with multiple neutral flags. Even if you get zerged, you can form up with a few folks and intercept stragglers with "flags." It's a simple objective that adds a lot to gameplay, and since players summon them, it gives us some freedom to coordinate things. The best part is that the game announces the rifts to both factions, so everyone knows where they can find some good world pvp.

The "alternative objectives" for war fronts (like WoW BGs) changes the regular rule set when it's in place. A simple capture the flag map (think Warsong Gulch) becomes much more complicated: flags become neutral. Capturing a flag only puts it in your base, and the enemy can steal it and take it to their base to score. Oh, and after the first flag is captured, the game spawns two neutral flags. You can go from a 2-0 advatnage to 2-3 loss in minutes. The game's pace becomes much faster and the strategies can get pretty wild. This vastly beats out Blizzard's different maps with largely the same gameplay (I loved the new maps in Cata, don't get me wrong, but the gameplay only changed a little- Trion's method is vastly more noticeable and enjoyable).

And this is just the pvp stuff. Despite Rift being a theme park game with a largely pve oriented crowd, the developers actually pay attention to their PvP crowd. The changes that took place while I was assisting my guild in WoW's 4.2 make me much happier with a game I already would have stuck with if not for social purposes. Blizzard is trying to play catch up at the moment, and I don't feel like it's quite as strong, and certainly not as swift. Rift is still a theme park game, but by adding more world events, the game world feels much more organic, and I'm seeing familiar faces after only a few days of transfering to a new shard. Some may be gone in a few weeks if a large guild comes over after "dominating" their old shard, but for now, world pvp is alive and well. Game mechanics enforce a reliance on other people, unlike WoW's new "pvp zone" that gives people more of a reason to avoid their enemy than engage them.

teakbois writes:

I disagree with a lot of what has been said in this post.

 

First you say WoW has added only guild quests, but since Rift's launch they have added the two troll dungeons, frielands raid, and a moderate zone of new dailies.  Right around the corner are three new dungeons, a new darkmoon faire event, and Deathwing raid..  Granted it's not a ton of content, but its not nothing either.

 

Second, people are having pretty big issues with trion's content.  Their latest raid is so bugged that guilds are starting to quit because of it.  Every game releases bugged raids.  Rift's havent been fixed for weeks however.  Hammerknell has just been a huge disaster.

 

Now for the PvP..WoW PvP does one thing so ridiculously better than Rift:  balance.  In a team setting, WoW's PvP is fairly well balanced.  Rift has some major balance issues.  Blizzard is doing the if it aint broke dont fix it route, whereas the state of PvP for Rift has been poor since launch.  Not to say it isnt enjoyable, but its not even close to WoW's level and WoW isnt exactly an industry leader in quality PvP

 

Blizzard isnt 'trying to play catch up' to Rift.  Rift, as far as WoW is concerned, has come and gone.  Rift is in a (gradual) population decline after a fairly steep initial dropoff, and this is after pulling out all the stops like drop in price and free trial. 

 

Yes, WoW lost customers to Rift initially.  However, in quarter 2 WoW experienced a 3% loss in its customers.  Rift hasnt published its numbers, but given the sites that track when servers go low/med/high/full its obvious that Rift lost more than that 3% in the same time.

 

WoW knows it has to improve, they are pushing Cataclysm through because it has not been well received and moving on to the next.  Not as a reaction to rift, but as preparation for SWTOR and GW2

 

But back to Rift, you complained about WoW's grind in your first paragraph.  Rift is just more of the same.  But if you are having fun, then it doesnt matter.  A change of scenery can be good.  But dont expect any long term staying power from Rift

Tue Aug 30 2011 3:00AM Report
Dengar writes:

Teakis, in case you didn't notice, I left those things out of Rfit as well. I only listed new content features, not the same old grind. Rift has added new raids, tons of new mounts and some factions, etc. They also added guild banks, but I left that out since that's something launched without, so it doesn't quite count IMO. The factions/raids stuff isstandard theme-park practice to release these things, whereas, say, alternative BG rules are very uncommon.

For pvp balance... get over it. It happens. First and foremost about theme-park pvp- it doesn't matter. Really. You don't lose anything but some time, and Rift does the same thing as WoW: even the losers win, just not as hard. Even if you're worried about your e-pride alone, Rift's soul system is far more flexible. If you're getting stomped with one spec, *gasp*, you can potentially choose one of 4 other specs you may have (for those who don't know, while WoW has dual spec, Rift has quint-spec). 

As far as playing catch-up, I noticed you completely avoided the argument about the features that Blizz is finally adding so close after a competitor added them. It's like when Blizz made BGs give xp after Warhammer had done it- you'd be blind to deny where the idea came from.

All games have a grind, but WoW's seams are showing much more. At least Trion puts in an effort to keep masking it by giving a variety of content, not just more of the same mechanics. Given that Trion already has several other games in the works, including one tied to a television series based on their game, I have a feeling that Rift is going to be around for awhile.

Tue Aug 30 2011 8:49AM Report
teakbois writes:

Ill agree the alternative BG rules are interesting.  I dont think WoW needs it, but the two newer BGs should have had different rules than the existing ones.  Overall though WoW has pretty decent variety in its BGs.

 

But as for as adding features...Appearance tabs have eben in games forever, WoW has chosen not to have them.  Yes they are adding them now, but its because they have had their first period of decline in 7 years (it only took rift 30 days to have their first period of decline).  

 

WoW was a game that was never known for its originality.  At launch it brought nothing new to the genre.  However, as lazy as the content developers have gotten over the years, they actually have had two fairly innovative features recently.  The dungeon finder, now being copied by others, and the real id system  (maybe other games allow you to add to your friends list by account so all alts are there, but i dont know of them)

 

Yes, Trion is doing interesting things.  The Rift system itself so far, at least in my opinion, is not special.  The invasions are awesome at first but even the world events tend to start feeling generic.  Just swap the elemental and there isnt a whole lot of difference.  Less and less people are doing Rifts, and the fewer that do them the less fun they become.

 

But they have other ideas on the way...The chronicles system, AA, things that should help.  However, the foundation the game is belt on, the world and lore of Telera, the art style,..its all incredibly generic.  The game is already struggling big time with retention.  Yes, the overall numbers are declining only slowly, but they are pulling out all stops to get people.  Reduced retail prices, trial accounts, and a 6 month anniversery?  I dont doube that the game will be around for years, but its not going to be a big player in the market.  I originially thought it could be a 300k sub game but now I think that would be pretty generous.  But it will have enough to sustain itself for years like eq2

Tue Aug 30 2011 11:26AM Report
Goll25 writes:

Rift will last this next wave of AAA games easier then WoW will, mark my words. ;)

Wed Aug 31 2011 1:17AM Report
teakbois writes:

'Goll25 writes:

Rift will last this next wave of AAA games easier then WoW will, mark my words. ;)'

 

Come on, you cant seriously think this.

 

On game has 11 million subs, the other has somewhere around 350k.  9 out of 10 people could quit WoW  and it would still have more people then Rift.

 

And Rift is clearly having worse retention issues than WoW.  Yes, WoW had its first ever quarters of customer decline.   But the seocnd quarter decline was less than 3%, and I challenge you to show me a game that didnt decline 3% in second quarter, besides AoC.

 

How do I say Rift is having worse retention issues though?  Because after the initial large drop off, its been a very gradual decline (if you count how often servers are full/high.medium/low, because noa ctual sub numbers).  The decline is gradual, but they are doing free trials and reduced prices and pulling out every stop to get new people.  You think WoW has the influx of new people that Rift has?  Are there even people left that have never tried it?

 

Even with a large influx of new people, Rift still cant shake out of the decline.   This is the first week that ive looked at (granted I dont do it every week) where the servers actually show an increase, but thats because of the 'half year anniversary'.  

Name another MMO that had a celebration after 6 months.  Rift is desperate.

Wed Aug 31 2011 12:01PM Report
Dengar writes:

It won't do "better than WoW" in terms of subscribers since WoW's vanilla atm. It's the default MMO. That's its current strength and weakness.

Rift is slowly adding new features (not raids, actual features) to differentiate itself from WoW. Call it desperation, but it works for some of us. I'd rather play a game that pumps out content I want than one that's playing catch-up, and I still feel like, despite it's size, WoW is now playing catch-up.

All the guildies I know only returned to WoW for the people, but more of us are actually coming back to Rift for now since it's feeling different than WoW now, and that's what really counts.

Wed Aug 31 2011 2:48PM Report
Goll25 writes:

EH, I been watching the servers frequetly and even before this month rifts servers surged back up to being medium most of the time with a decent amount of full (NA). WoW has a big decrease in fulls and a lot of empty servers now.

As rift is steadily gaining costumers not loosing, my own shard has seen a substantial amount of players being welcomed back, Firelands patch drew people away from Rift and they are coming back.

Do I think rift is going to kill wow, or is killing wow? NO WAY! People are getting tired of the exact same game every month, and with MOBA games like LOL being welcomed in mainstream gaming, and MMO's with new features like rift, tera, gw2, and sw:tor, I do think that wow will have a bigger percentage hit then rift, although will still have more subs. ( know what I mean?)

WoW has lost over 1 mill subs, this yr alone. WoW is pulling all the stops too, "free to play to lvl 20" Free TBC expansion with purchase of original, "puggable raids" All in their online adds. Also they let returning players come back for a week with the firelands patch, and they did it BEFORE rift! Are they feeling it yes. WoW lost 1 mill, rift may have only lost around 300k since launch, and is gaining more while WoW is loosing.

Rift is set to launch new a bg, a new raid, new dungeons, and 1-2 New zones the next patch this sept. and you can expect a new world event. That is dedication that is not seen by many game devs.

Since the launch of Cata wow has received, a new pvp season, a new daily quest hub, 1 new 7 boss raid, and reused troll dungeons and finnally an appearence tab.

Launch of rift 2 raids, 4 world events +1 more for bday, bg alt rules, more pvp sets, new zones, new bg, dungeon finder then cross realm dungeons, and a boat load of important fixes to the game. ( i really think I'm missing something...)

rift has had 6 months, Cata has had 9.

But even with all this being said sadly rift will always be bashed for being to wow-like, and not being enough like wow (with different starting zones etc.) and will not harm WoW much. Though I do seriously believe Rift will stay more stable during this new wave of AAA games then WoW...

But in all honesty even though I have a man crush on trion, I'd LOVE to see a return of good updates and gameplay to WoW, lets face it i still log on for the NOSTOLGIA! bizz you addicting bastards D:

Wed Aug 31 2011 5:30PM Report
teakbois writes:

'WoW has lost over 1 mill subs, this yr alone. WoW is pulling all the stops too, "free to play to lvl 20" Free TBC expansion with purchase of original, "puggable raids" All in their online adds. Also they let returning players come back for a week with the firelands patch, and they did it BEFORE rift! Are they feeling it yes. WoW lost 1 mill, rift may have only lost around 300k since launch, and is gaining more while WoW is loosing.'

 

1.  WoW has not lost over a million subs.  Well its possible they have, but dont forget Q2 ended before firelands patch hit which likely brought back some of the 900k.

2. WoW is 7 years old.  They are at the point where its near impossible to acquire new members.  That is when you pull out all the stops.  It is indeed a reaction to lost subs.  It just took them over 6 years to lose people as opposed to 30 days.

3.  Rift is *not* gaining overall customers.  It is in a gradual decline.  Or the servers are staying full/medium for a lower period of time, because that is all that is really tracked.  Could be more people are playing, but they are playing less.  No server is high pop during non-primetime hours.  In fact, right now, at 8pm eastern there are only TWO servers at high.  Just two.  And the threshold for being high pop for rift is lower than WoWs, for what thats worth.

 

Trion is trying, thats for sure, and thats not necessarily a bad thing, but when you put out abominations like Hammerknell that are in no state to be released more content is not always better.

For all the things they are doing right, the results speak volumes about the game itself.  That first 30 days, servers were conisistnently high or queued.  Now they never queue (only 3 servers have been full over the last month) and the popular servers spend more than 2/3rds of their time at medium population.  This doesnt happen to great games at release.

 

Could they turn it around and become a great game?  Its an uphill battle but its possible.  Hopefully they do.  But the odds are not in their favor.

 

Wed Aug 31 2011 7:16PM Report
Dengar writes:

I'm with you Goll. Rift won't kill the beast, but percentage wise, I think it'll be fine, especially as it pushes itself to distance itself from WoW (honestly, now would be the time for the "This isn't Azeroth" stuff, not Rift's launch).

And teak: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36351/World_of_Warcraft_Subscriptions_Continue_To_Decline_Though_More_Slowly.php

Wed Aug 31 2011 7:48PM Report
Goll25 writes:

Great discussion =p, Yeah WoW has lost real close to 1mill subs... And like I said i see the rift pop SLOWLY coming back, sure the servers arent packed yet for good reasons.

Same with the que for  WOW when wrath came out I waited in an hr line to get on my server, in a week there was no wait, same with Cata. It is the way it works.

The Point that WoW is 7 years old is the point I want to bring up next, Rift has a long ways to go, but the rate they churn out big updates, with tons of things to do is outstanding. I myself have not done hammerknell, but the people I have heard from that do it, say it's fine...Just really hard :o, my understanding is not many have downed the last boss...Which says a lot about end game for the hardcore group of players.

OOOOO i left out 1 and 2 player dungeons will be coming out next update too ^_^. LOL so thats something for the casuals.

I agree calling wow out on launch was a bad idea, the game launched as a smaller game with not to much to do but I'll be damned if it didn't feel like a veteran release, nearly no bugs and so darn smooth.

I think if they would have done another attention grabbing add campaign in the beginning then switched too calling out WoW they would get ALOT bigger a player base... Who knows maybe we will see it!

My only complaint with the game (and to why I think it doesn't get much of a fair chance) is it's level paths. They should really have had more zone choices to level, or at least 2 starting point per faction. This is why Rift gets bashed 7/10 times, and then people say its endgame is bad when they have not even reached it yet, but are so bored with the leveling aspect.

But My #1 point is rift will sustain it's playerbase for the most part through this wave of upcoming games soley on content to be added and a dev team that listens, while WoW will most likely loose another mill + subs, but still function like buisness as usual since they make such a filthy amount of money!

I think I know what WoW will do when at least GW2 comes out, and that is announce the next xpac, probably for q2 2012. That pack better bring something new though and so better the patch leading up to it because I think this is a good threat. I mean GW is a popularly loved franchise. And if at one time Rift challenged WoW, the game that pretty much came in over night, Imagine a game that has been worked on for over 5 years :o.

Wed Aug 31 2011 10:33PM Report
teakbois writes:

 

'I'm with you Goll. Rift won't kill the beast, but percentage wise, I think it'll be fine, especially as it pushes itself to distance itself from WoW (honestly, now would be the time for the "This isn't Azeroth" stuff, not Rift's launch).

And teak: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36351/World_of_W'

 

The first real step away from WoW is the announcement of an AA system.  Thats a big part fo what gave EQ its longevity, you always had something to play for as you are always improving your character.  Not sure how Rift will handle it, hopefully more like EQ1 as opposed to Hartsman's EQ2.

 

If they really wnat to go away from WoW they have to knock it off with all the currencies and come up with a better gear acquisition model.  And go away with the recycled content model of 'heroic' dungeons, but they are clearly NOT doing that.

 

And yes, I know about that link.  300k customers lost in q2 is less than 3%.  Overall q1+q2 is still less than 8%.   This is a period following a bad expansion (it happens) and the first big content update came after q2.

 

How much has rift lost in that time?  Well its dropped from 99 servers to 62 and they almost never go full and rarely go high pop for more than hour.  Less servers + less people playing per server.  Not good signs.

 

Rift has a tough road ahead of it.

 

'But My #1 point is rift will sustain it's playerbase for the most part through this wave of upcoming games soley on content to be added and a dev team that listens, while WoW will most likely loose another mill + subs, but still function like buisness as usual since they make such a filthy amount of money!'

 

Oh i think WoW may lose more than a million after SWTOR and GW2.  Its 7 years old after all.  But will it lose 6 million?  No, I highly doubt it.

 

You think rift will sustain its playerbase, but its struggled to sustain it through periods of strong acquisition and lack of other competition.  Whats going to happen when there is major competition?  And when a lot of Rift's players are just wiating it out til the other games.  I know one of the largest guilds on Faeblight, if not the largest, is specifically moving to GW2 when it launches.  Obviously not all will go, but a lot will.

 

And the content Trion has been releasing...It isnt exactly getting high praise.  Hammerknell is a colossal misstep  There has been good and bad, but they may be crumbling a little under their own workload.  they are going to have to slow down for quality's sake.

 

 think I know what WoW will do when at least GW2 comes out, and that is announce the next xpac, probably for q2 2012. That pack better bring something new though and so better the patch leading up to it because I think this is a good threat. I mean GW is a popularly loved franchise. And if at one time Rift challenged WoW, the game that pretty much came in over night, Imagine a game that has been worked on for over 5 years :o.

 

WoW has had a q2 2012 expansion planned for a long time now.  Blizzcon will be loaded with info on it, as well as D3 (which may hurt WoW more than the other competition ironically).  Rift didnt challenge at all.  Rift came at an oppurtune time after a lousy expansion and WoW's first big misstep, but the popualtion loss wasnt because of Rift, it was because of WoW.

 

The 'average' WoW player doesnt really care about GW1, but GW2 will undoubtedly draw bigger attention.  My personal epxectation for GW2 is a strong but not overwhelming release and it will become the next 'grower', like EQ, EvE and WoW that all shwoed a steady climb in population over several years as word got out.  GW2's presence will be 2013 more than 2012 for WoW.

 

 

SWTOR is the big one for WoW.  Nobody knows what will happen with that though.

 

 

Thu Sep 01 2011 2:10AM Report
Draemos writes: Sorry, but the majority of the Rift community are WoW orphans who are looking for a better home. Rift managed to snag them for a time because of a massive drought in MMO releases. They will be bailing out in droves (along with WoW players) once SWtOR and GW2 are released. But Trion is the one that's really going to feel the pinch, They don't have as much to fall back on as Blizzars Thu Sep 01 2011 1:32PM Report
snoocky writes:

SWTOR is the big one for WoW. Nobody knows what will happen with that though.

<----------------------Disagree...GW2 is.....

Thu Sep 01 2011 1:54PM Report
Goll25 writes:

A lot of valid reasons, but the thing with GW2 is that it is going to be free of monthly fees, period. This means that people will possibly still keep subs on other games. Also with that being said, how often can a game free of monthly fees keep producing content updates? (Unless they have a real successful item mall) I mean look at GW1 that never got big updates just expansions (not a bad thing at all though). I'll assume that expantions will keep gw2 alive though more then a mall.

SW:TOR is a a question to me, it's made by bio-ware, and is based on star wars so it should see good first month sales (aion). But I actually do not see it being a big hit, just another game with a strong base of hardcore players really...could be wrong though :o

Thu Sep 01 2011 5:19PM Report
Rogosh writes:

Not really sure why you think the majority of rifts community is wow orphans. There are alot of eq and eq2 folks playing rift as well as many other games. I have played them all and have been looking for something to recapture eq's feel and atmosphere. So far rift is closest to that. But its world pvp is on a whole nother level than what eq offered.

Guess I will just have to wait and see if Everquest Next can recapture EQ. But in the mean time ill keep subscribing to rift and keep enjoying my monthly content updates.

 

 

Sun Sep 04 2011 2:34PM Report

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