Wow...oh no..wait...I mean Rift! Woohoo! Almost messed up! OKies! So here we are in 2011, we've all forgotten about the poor showing of MMORPG's last year and there is a feeling that this could be the year! Yippee skippy! You know what? Let you in on a little secret. 2011 just might be a stellar year for MMORPG fans and the first quarter is about to be one of the best we've had in a long time in this genre.
Because of a game called Rift: Planes of Telara
I know...what you are thinking. Where is our Kristi and who is this imposter writing this?(I know so cliche’ - life is a cliche’) because our Kristi would not be so enthusiastic about a new MMORPG since she her real names are Negative Nancy, or Jade’d(see what I did there - cool huh) Gamer. No really though it is me! And I am excited! Finally after a long wait...we might actually see the launch of a really cool MMORPG! Yeah!
Now don’t get all hyped on me just yet though - Rift has some serious flaws “in my opinion”. Flaws that could very well keep me from playing. Read on.
Rift: PoT is a good game, better than average in my book, but it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Rift does have its share of serious short comings, but you know what so do all these games. With that said, if you have a decent gaming rig, and wish to play a game that brings a really cool twist to many aspects of existing MMORPG’s, that plays better than most games that have been out for awhile --- than maybe you might like to give it a shot.
Here is what I know of the game as it is right now. Things may change. Rift still has about a month before release. So take what I tell you with a grain of salt. Rift developers are good. They reworked a whole class between two beta events. So things can and will no doubt change before the game launches.
Think new game, add lot’s of WoW...now take a dash of Warhammer Online, and a dash of Dark Age of Camelot. Stir it vigorously and presto - we have Rift! Rift brings some new things to the table, but it also rehashes some old stuff and though Rift is a lot like WoW, Warhammer, and DAoC, in many ways...it is not these games - it is RIFT. Thank the Gods of Gaming for that.
Rift takes a twist on an old game standard. Take two factions. Guardians and the Defiant. Have them battle it out for control of the world. Nothing new. Think Alliance and Horde. OK that is out of the way.
Yes it has elves, dwarves, dragons and swords stuffed into another fantasy world, but this is not like other fantasy worlds in that it is so full of magic every where you look. From the very way the world looks graphically and the way it plays you know from the get go that this game is different - and it is. I personally like the graphics for the most part. I love the rich colors. The non-static trees and other flora. They actually sway as if there is a breeze moving them.
Water itself needs a little work. It burns me up that in this day and age we haven’t got to the point where water flows in streams, and laps the shore of lakes, seas, and oceans. ::sigh:: I think they need to work on this. It’s not enough to be as everyone else. Do it better.
Another thing I do not like is the lack of fauna and the fauna that is present just seems to be placed in as a second thought. Squirrels look fugly. No seriously...worse than WoW’s squirrels - and their animations are even worse. I know, I can hear it now..."can you knit-pick anything that has any less game play value than this?” So sue me. If a game company is going to produce a game and release it in this day and age - all aspects of the game matter! Not just some of it...all of it! That is why WoW was so successful. It is called paying attention to detail and then polishing it. Rift developers seem to be good at certain things, but in this area I am not impressed. Where are the birds in this game? I saw butterflies in Sanctum. Why nowhere else? So Trion - where are the birds? We can hear them...why can’t we see them?
They need to add more flora and fauna to the waters of the game as well. What I saw of it was very limited. Do not give us pools of water and then leave them barren. For me that is one thing that drives me away from a game. If you are going to put water quest in the game and ahve water we can swim in...populate it! Make it look like that part of the game was as important as the rest of the game. Sure in Rift there is “some" flora, and “some" fauna in the water...but I saw other places where they were just empty pools, empty lakes, and streams.
Night time also needs improved. Do not be WoW and make night look like Day. I do like that you “”attempt" to make night not like day, but you do not go far enough --- in my opinion. Make night time different, make it darker. Not a lot, just a wee bit more. It adds atmosphere to the game. Having night look hardly different than day is doing the same-old, same-old. That is not enough...do it better. Do it better by making night time different. Add MOB’s that come out only at night and behave differently. Have them roam. Have them actively hunt. Have them lurk in bushes and trees. If another MOB or player comes into attack range- have that MOB spring out and attack the player from the trees or bushes. Do something different! Do it better!
PS: It wouldn’t hurt to also have a couple of daytime MOB’s that actually use bushes for cover and to attack from. That would be doing it better!
Character customization is about what you get from WoW. Not a whole lot, but just enough to sorta make a unique character. Rift does give you more color options and face changes. Just not enough. Same with hair. They need more hair options for characters. Just not enough. You have to do this better than WoW, Warhammer, etc, etc, etc...
Note: Rift does have dyes! You will be able to dye your armor. That is something people have been begging Blizzard for - well since forever! This is a good thing in Rift! Thank you Trion.
See, that is what plagues so many new games, it is not enough that you do great in one area and neglect the rest. In this day an age you have to do it “better"! We gamers are a fickle bunch. If you think I am the only gamer that notices this stuff, the developers will be sadly mistaken.
OK try as I might I saw no weather in the areas I explored. People have said there is dynamic weather in the game. If so - where? I know there are areas where it snows and rains...but that is not dynamic. That is static. It will always rain and or be snowing in those areas. That is not doing it right...that is doing it wrong. It is not enough to just take what others have done in previous games and tack it into your game and call it good. Circa 2004 is calling. They want their static weather back. This is 2011. If you cannot do it better than say Asheron’s Call did in 1999 or WoW did in 2004 even - you fail.
Know what, Rift has mounts. Know what else. You have to wait until level 20 to get it. Hello Trion. This is Kristi. I think that part of your game blows. Let me explain why. Your game world is not small. In fact Silverwood is immense. It takes “time” to run from one end to the other. I am a gamer that has little time for “running” around “wasting” time trying to get from point A to point B. In your game MOB’s are quite thick. That means there is no taking shortcuts. If I do leave the beaten path trying to save a little time I’ll aggro mass amounts and receive a very quick beat down and be soul walking back to my corpse. I am cool with the MOB’s the way they are. No problem. What I am not cool with is the fact that we’re forced to stay on roads and that just lengthen the times to get from point A to point B. So why can we not get a horse at say level 10?
Wait! Before I get berated by other gamers...hear me out.
Having a horse in your game will not cause me to skip content! I know this is what people will say. Or they will say...”God damn - you want everything handed to you. You do not wish to have to struggle to get it.”
I want one person to explain how having a horse at level 10 will cause me to skip content? Just one. Explain it to me. Will the horse suddenly make my character gain levels? Will it mean I can suddenly do quest without fear of dying? Will it improve my stats? Just exactly how will being able to obtain a mount at level 10 - hell at level 1 effect me playing the game? You know...many games allow for players to get mounts. You know what game of all the games I have ever played got it right? Vanguard. Yes I know it is a failed game. It wasn’t because we could get mounts at level 1 though. In fact that was one of the cool things about Vanguard that other games failed at. Mounts could be gotten at lower level and as you leveled you could improve your mount. Better saddles, better barding, horse shoes, this allowed you to carry items on your mount with saddle bags. Better saddles meant it was harder to get knocked off your horse. Better horseshoes allowed for faster travel...your mount was an integral part of your character. It didn’t hurt your game play - it actually added to it and enhanced it. Vanguard got it right. Rift gets it wrong. Am I knit-picking. Nope. I call it as I see it. And that is how I see it. Mount’s lessen the burden of getting around. A ground mount in Rift will not hurt the game if a player has access to them sooner. It will not cause me to skip content. It will not make me spend less time in your game - in fact just the opposite. It will not make my character suddenly uber. It will however make your game less tedious. It will increase my ability to get around and enjoy doing it. It will make you game more “fun”.
Oh and fix the mounts run animations for the lower level mounts. They look like they are running in slow motion. Every gamer I have spoken with this on agrees...the mounts in the game need their animations sped up.
It is not enough to cut and paste elements from other games into your game - you have to do it as good, and or better, than everyone else. Half-assing it will not cut it. This is 2011. Gamers are not like the gamers of 2001. The vast majority will notice all the things I notice. These things will and do have a bearing on whether a game makes it or not. First impressions are "everything". Time and time again a game is released with mediocre attempts to be a good game. Mediocre will not cut it. It won’t. Look at Aion. They added a cool twist on travel. Characters could get wings. Cool! Then the players find out that those wings aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and their coolness quickly faded, and players asked one simple question. “How come?” How come we cannot fly here, or fly there, or why can’t my character fly a little longer? It was a cool mechanic that the game developers failed to capitalize on and in the end - many players, “me included” saw it for what it was...a gimmicky game mechanic that in the end was just that - gimmicky. Don’t get me wrong. I love that you have mounts in the game. But in my opinion...you’re doing it wrong. You can do better. Other games have. Don’t be those other games. Do it your way and do it better! Having players wait until X level to get a mount is circa 2004. Having mounts not be an integral part of a characters items is also circa 2004. It is time to improve the system. Do not add more to the stagnated game mechanics pool...there is all ready enough flotsam and jetsam littering other games.
What I have learned from beta is that despite that Rift takes many game play mechanics from various games, it is its own game in some areas. It is its own game because it brings some things to the table that those other games do not and in these instances this is where Rift shines.
Sure Warhammer had public quest, but those PQ’s as they are known, were limited in scope. Rift’s PQ’s on the other hand are much more dynamic in that when Rift’s open ip across a zone it effects everyone. Left unchecked and the Rift’s spawn MOB’s that can and will take over whole areas of the zone, including quest hubs and towns. They also infect the other MOB’s in the areas in which they spawn. Then if that is not bad enough. You also have the fact that the other faction is constantly trying to gain a foothold in your territory. They will set up little camps from which to launch assaults. Sending out groups of NPC MOB’s to take over quest hubs, towns and what not. In all my years of gaming I have never encountered a game that actually did this. I use to beg developers to add such type of game play into their games and none ever did - until now. It helps break up the monotony questing treadmill and gives players something else to do that has an impact on the game world around them. Doing Rift’s also rewards the player for their effort in a nice way. You gain, exp and special rewards for helping to close them. This is cool and a nice incentive to participate in closing them. Helps with the social aspect that many games are lacking as well. It brings random players together in a very unique way.
Questing in Rift is not all the different from your standard MMORPG. One thing I cannot stand in may games is that they are loaded with go kill X # MOB’s or get X # of items. The difference is that in Rift it is not some unGodly # un-like WoW for instance. In WoW I have had quest that had you go kill 30+ MOB’s! Another bad thing in many games is that if you are sent on a go get X# of items quest you often do not get that item to drop with every MOB you kill. So if you are sent to go get 5 shiny’s from MOB X, you tend to have to kill 20+ MOB’s to get that number of shiny’s needed to complete the quest. In Rift. Every kill rewards the item you need. I dunno about anyone else that plays these games but it always drove me crazy when doing a go fetch quest because of that very thing. Some of the drop rates in games like WoW are atrocious and you can spend hours trying to get such a quest done due to the fact that not every MOB drops said item. Thank you Trion developers for game less aggravating. and tedious.
With that said. Rift does have one serious problem in this area. These are really the only types of quest a player will encounter as they play. Once you hit level 25 you really start to see a pattern. It feels like deja vu. Why? Well, because simple put, you just did these same quest in the last zone. The only difference is the appearance of the MOB's you have to kill and their name. I found myself finally getting bored to tears running them. I love MMORPG's. They are one of my hobbies. I use to play table top roleplaying games back in the day with my brothers and that was my road to online gaming later. The one thing I have noticed over the years of playing these online games is that they moved away from story telling quest toward what we now call fed X quest, go fetch X quest, and kill X quest. These games are littered with them. Rift is not different and that is really sad.
OK we’re to one aspect of the game I think Rift also got right and that is what in WoW we call archeology. Rift has something similar only you do not have to train it or level it up and it is called Collections. All players can do it. You also do not have to fly to specific dig sites and then use some kind of weird device to locate an artifact. Nope, in fact the artifacts are just scattered about the zones and you find them just by happen stance - the glow brightly and sparkle - very beautifully if I might add. Pick it up and it goes in your pouch. Go to the pouch and click on it and it auto populates the relic slot it goes into. Once you have one completed, turn it in and you receive a “usable item” - not trash(like in WoW). I really enjoyed Rift’s version of this.
Moving on to combat. Combat is IMHO very fluid and smooth. I know some on these and other forums say it is slow and clunky. I have to wonder if we are actually playing the same game, because I think Rift’s combat is as good as WoW’s if not moreso. No combat animations an movement is not the issues I had. What I do have an issue with is the lack of any real AI to the MOB’s and the combat sounds were very un-inspiring.
This is where I feel Trion is missing a huge opportunity. It is one thing to make combat fluid and smooth as they have done. It is another to add AI to your MOB’s so that they behaving unpredictably or at least seem to react with some form of intelligence. Something even WoW and every other MMORPG is plagued with - stupid MOB’s. If Trion really wishes to make their combat stand out they need to give MOB’s some AI. As it is now they basically either stand statically and do not move while in combat or just sit still at range and plink away until you close on them and then they once again just become a static melee mob.
What Trion needs to do is have MOB’s try to flank players, kite players, and even retreat or perhaps call for help from nearby allies. This in itself would truly add a new level of game play that few MMORPG’s have. Have MOB’s actually use the same tactics as players from time to time, like circle strafing. Or snare a player and get some distance so they can use their ranged attacks. I fought plenty of ranged MOB’s in Rift’s and once you close on them they stand and use their melee attacks instead of trying to get to range. There were a few bosses that used push-back attacks, but there is only a couple I encountered that did this.
Another thing that combat in general seemed to be missing is “quality” sound effects. Melee combat had lack-luster at best sound effects and what is with this no sound from our characters when they are in combat. Sheeesh...I really was disappointed with that fact. Talk about poorly done. Other games get this right. Rift..you got it wrong. When our characters get critted or are exerting themselves in battle...they should grunt, groan, yell out in pain...something - anything! This needs improved. Same goes for combat sounds in general. I found them, for lack of a better word, un-inspiring. ::sigh:: Where is the sound of steal hitting steal. Or a mace hitting a shield. OMG...Trion developers, do yourself a favor and play Mount and Blade. One thing they got right, other than their truly awesome combat system, is the sound in that game. Riding a horse sounds like you are riding a horse. Melee combat sounds like you’re really in combat. Clashing of weapons, shields splintering, arrows htting armor, shields, flesh...all the sounds you would expect to hear are there...Rift - it needs some serious improvement. Most other games get this part right...Rift - fail.
I cannot speak volumes on PvP. That I did experience was fun. The warfront maps are standard fare. I do think due to the nature of this games combat - you’ll never experience a Mount and Blade siege in Rift - sadly. That doesn’t matter. For the type of game Rift is the PvP combat, open world combat and warfront maps should be enough to keep any player interested in PvP occupied for a very long time or until they get bored to tears doing them repeatedly. Don’t know if Rift has a map like WoW’s Wintergrasp...if they don’t they should add one. Wintergrtasp is actually one of the only BG’s that was really any fun.
Speaking of PvP and PvE. Big debate on this and here is where I stand on it. DAoC offered co-op servers and straight up PvE servers - Mythic got it right. Trion is doing it wrong. Despite the arguments for Trion's PvP/PvE mechanics as they are now...if they wish to really tap into the market...they'll have to cater to both PvP players and PvE players - if they do not - they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Cannot speak of end-game. Haven’t done it, so I am clueless as to what we will find there. They are suppose to be dungeons and raid instances. ::shrugs:: So this we’ll all have to see.
One other thing I would like to touch on and that is Rift’s class system. Unlike most games, Rift offer a very unique take on how a player builds their characters play style. We’ve all seen how the other games have done it. Most are standard fare skill trees. WoW’s was actually a lot like Rift’s in that you once were able to take some things from other sub-trees to build a hybrid character. Then they streamline it and moved away from the system that Rift employs. In my opinion, Rift got this right. They not only want players to diversify, their games combat system is built around it. The skill trees, or souls as they are called in Rift are varied enough that a player can build a very unique character that may not play like anyone elses. I forgot how many variations one can come up with per class(of which there are four: Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, Mage), but it is a lot and I mean a lot. I think it will be a long time before we see cookie cutter classes in Rift as we see in many of these other games. Rift got this right from what I can tell --- except it fails in one soul in the Rogue class. Let me expand on this.
There is one soul I must make a statement on. As someone that has played other MMORPG’s and love to play an archer based class. I think Rift is missing the boat in this area when it comes to Ranger’s pets. I guess WoW spoiled me. Doesn’t matter. This is my opinion. WoW’s system of pet’s is better than Rift’s version. In Rift all pets are pre-determined. We cannot tame our own choice of pets and then spec them out as we do our characters to help give us a unique style of play - this we can do in WoW. WoW got it right. Rift got it wrong. This will disappoint many a player that was expecting something as cool as what we have in WoW, and in other games. In Rift...they really dropped the ball here. Instead we’ll see Ranger’s all running around with the same looking pets as every other ranger. They could have at least tried to do this better than WoW. Sadly they didn’t. In this, I know players of WoW that love to play archer class, they love playing their Hunter. They have all ready told me they will not leave WoW to play Rift for this very reason. Stupid. Maybe...but I have to agree with them. Rift’s pet system for Ranger’s just plain sucks.
Fix it. Allow Ranger’s to tame pets. Allow Rangers to name pets. Allow Rangers to skill pets. Just like WoW. Make it better by allowing us to add gear to our pets. Add “war” barding - anything...just do it better.
My biggest rant about this game and I will not bite my tongue and yes there will be colorful metaphors and cursing. Deservedly so!
Another thing that really irks me and Rift seems to follow suit with all these games in this aspect and that is we need to have two sets of armor. One for PvE and for PvP. God. You MMORPG developers just do not get it do you. If there is one thing about these games that really pisses me and other MMORPG gamers off is the need for different sets of armor! Why...oh why can’t one set be good for both play types of game play. Why do we need two different sets? Someone - somewhere please explain this to me. I am dumb founded on why this seems to have become the norm in all these games. Of all the things in these games that really turns me off is that the game designers are just putting in more bullshit we players must contend with. Rift and all the other games that do this - you’re fucking doing it wrong!!! No really...it is one aspect of these games that I cannot stand. Hated it in every game I come across that insist on doing it this way. Rift is no different. It maybe the one thing that actually keeps me from playing. The only way I’ll even consider playing their game is if the PvP isn’t “a grind” to get. If it is the least bit grindy to get PvP armor - forget it(I’ve heard it is grindy). I’ve been there, and done that so many fucking times I refuse to do it again in these games. Seriously. I’ll play Mount and Blade and be content that at least this single player game gets it fucking right! Armor is armor...if anything you need to give us more graphical choices in armor - not PvE and PvP choices...but graphical choices! Something few games actually offer. Nope. Instead we get the same-old, same-old grind for PvP gear. A tiring, tedious game mechanic ad nauseam. Rift ---- YOU GET THIS FUCKING WRONG!~
There is more to Rift. I just cannot comment on it. I never got that far. So I dunno how the rest of the game is. I do not know about the Guild tools in game. Never experienced it. I did dabble in the auction house and crafting and both seem to be on par with crafting we find in WoW(as I said earlier we actually have access to dyes).
With all that I have said, for Rift - it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just take aspects of other games and then copy and paste them into the game of Rift. If the developers do not make those aspects of other games that they copy and pasted into their game “as good or better”, than what Rift’s predecessors have done, than their game will follow the many others into the “Abyss of Bad” games. Not because they didn’t offer game play equal to other games - they did - but what they didn’t do, was do it better. You cannot make a cake and not add the frosting - without it, it’s just not the same.
Yes. Rift is your standard fantasy genre based game.
Yes. Rift uses many game play elements and mechanics from many other games. UI is almost identical to WoW's. I understand why they did this. No biggy.
Yes. Rift is a game we’ve all played before in one form another.
Yes. Rift is somewhat linear at the lower levels and beyond - but it does open up post level 10.
Yes. Rift is nothing super special - just different - enough of a difference that some players might find enjoyable.
It does bring what seems to be a finished and polished game right out of the box. Beta 5 played as well if not better than some games that have been out for years.
However, if the developers don’t realize that it is not enough to just deliver beyond the same-old, same-old, it’ll come back to bite them. They really have to do it as good, if not better, than those that came before them.
They, the developers of Rift, are on the right track - they just need to stay on it and keep making the game bigger and better. I’ll say this again, and keep on saying...it is not enough to deliver mediocre or same-old, same-old - they’ve got some things that really make their game stand out, but they have some things that need improved or completely reworked. Fix the things that need improve, rework the areas that need reworked(Ranger’s pets and drop the stinking need for different armor sets! Other games do this - do not be the other game!) and in my opinion Rift will be the best MMORPG currently on the market “for what it is.”. As it is now --- it’s not enough.
You might snag some WoW players as Aion did and a few players from other games that are just burned out, and looking at anything other than what they are currently playing. Some will play for a month, see the games short comings(the end game grind for gear, the PvP warfronts, grinding the same raids and dungeons - we've been there and done that Trion!) and than go right back to what they were playing. You can do better Trion. Now it is up to you.