| Ascended Soul system
Beautiful sounds & visuals
Massive rift invasions
| Bland crafting
Only two leveling paths
Same old questing
Tedious solo play
Break Stuff, Make Stuff, Repeat (Crafting)
Crafting in Rift is the same old song and dance, but it works. I really think I could leave this part of the review at that and be fine. But we’ll go a wee bit deeper. You pick up some harvesting professions, and probably one actual crafting skill. Skinning, foraging, mining… they’re all here. You can make armor, weapons, potions, runes to equip on your items. I’m not saying that Rift’s crafting doesn’t work. In fact, at the top level of the game it can even be useful. But I rarely find the drive to create hundreds of pointless items just to level a skill high enough to make something worthwhile, especially when I can get comparable rewards via questing or whatnot. Like I said, crafting’s there. It works. It just could be more interesting for my tastes, maybe more interactive and readily useful. I’m no designer. I just know it was too boring for me to keep up with. The leveling of one’s Runebreaking skill is a chore I’ll leave to others.
It’s a Mad, Match-Made World (PvP)
Player versus Player in Rift is not balanced. It probably never will be thanks to the freedom offered by the soul system. Unless they homogenize all the classes, it just won’t happen and I sincerely doubt Trion has any plans to take away some of the beauty of their game just so people can’t cry foul. Luckily, despite the builds that will wind up dominating matches, PvP in Rift is both fun and purposeful in terms of character advancement. It’s not perfect, and I’d love to see more open-world PvP content, but the instanced PvP you’ll find in Rift is a great side activity when you feel that bloodlust kicking in.
There are three Warfronts at launch: Black Garden (keep away), The Codex (capture and defend), and Whitefall Steppes (capture the flag). I only got to play the first two before my review was due. I found both to be very fun for the most part with the geometry of the maps being fairly balanced. Even when I lost I felt like I was making progress for my character thanks to XP, but the currency for PvP gear is best earned by winning and it can be frustrating to be on the team that just never seems to win. Pre-made groups will likely roll an unorganized team every time, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The matches pop fast thanks to the use cross-realm queues, and a good healer is always a welcome addition (much to my enjoyment).
The only qualms I have with Rift’s PvP is the focus on instanced Warfronts. Even on PvP servers, there seems less urgency to bother with open world PvP when all the goodies are earned from Warfronts. The level 50s out there can shed more light, but I feel like Rift Invasions are a missed opportunity for some really hectic world PvP.
The Future is Bright (Conclusion)
In the end, Rift may not be everything for everyone. I feel silly writing that as that should be obvious of any game by now. But Trion’s game is a rare jewel in this industry. Not only does it try to do so much right from the word go, but it does so with a very seldom seen level of polish. It’s also hard not to get excited about what their server architecture can do for the future of Rift and any other games to come from the developer. Seven-hundred plus people in an area participating in an event like Rifts’ invasions is no small feat, as anyone whose games that have tried something similar can tell you. It’s also really hard not to applaud Trion for making a game that’s packed to the brim with every little feature you could want from an MMO, minus perhaps Housing.
Think back to the launch of other recent games. Did any of them have this much in place and working so smoothly? But there are also areas that could have used a little more creativity: namely crafting, combat, and questing. These are some core systems, and while they work perfectly well, they’re just a little too “old-hat” for my tastes. As I said at the outset of this review: Rift is a truly great game that will be perfect for anyone looking for a new but familiar home. It’s a fantastic refinement of the traditional MMORPG experience. Should the title keep receiving as much care as it has obviously seen during pre-release, Rift’s successes will only grow with age. But I’d just as easily advise caution to anyone in search of a revolution. They won’t find it here.
This second opinion is offered by another MMORPG.com staffer, Suzie Ford who has at least one character at endgame. Her report was written without having seen Bill’s review.
Last time I looked up from Rift, it was still winter and ‘suddenly’ the 90s here in the desert are just around the corner. The point is that that’s the last time I realized another game existed besides Rift.
Having played Rift from Beta 1 onward, I am still amazed at the amount of polish Trion managed to get in place before the head start program began at the end of February. So much of Rift’s shininess comes from its familiar, yet flawlessly executed, features. Whether it’s the user interface, the ‘point and kill’ combat system, the quest hubs, the crafting system, or sparkly loot, it’s all something that players have seen before and that gives them the ability to instantly jump into a new yet familiar home.
With a level 50 Guardian and a level 25 Defiant, I’ve seen the game nearly from start to finish. I’ll admit that I’ve not played in the instanced dungeons as my obsession has been to get to the end game. I’m there now and still having a blast. I actually still like “rifting”, arguably the game’s best feature IMO, and am always on a quest to find new and better stuff. One of my guild mates has also introduced me to the joys of hunting for artifacts and completing collections. With the River of Souls event now underway, there’s still a LOT to do and to like.
Yet Rift is not without issues that worry me about the long term attractiveness to players. I honestly am not sure that I want to go back and start a new Guardian character of a different class. I don’t really want to do all the same quests again. Truthfully, however, this isn’t Rift’s fault. I often have this problem in the MMOs that I play so Rift is not unique. Still, it’s possible that it’s because I played the low levels so often in the beta phase but starting over just makes my head hurt. It’s largely why I started a Defiant. I wanted to see something new, to try things from “the other side”. I’ve had a good time but am not really sold on the Defiant Warrior I’ve created. Yet I continue to forge on because I simply don’t want to go back to start a different class.
There is no question that there have been bugs and issues since Rift’s release. But, at least from the perspective of those I know who have been playing the game there have been far fewer than most games released in the last several years. What is rather sad about saying that is how complacent we’ve become in the fact that most games lack polish on release and that several patches are necessary to bring most games up to a playable state. Trion was obviously unwilling to follow the bleak path blazed by recent games and their responsiveness to players’ concerns and suggestions is nothing short of miraculous. Since beta testing began, Trion has issued hot fixes and patches to address those things that players request. They actually listen to the people. It’s almost as if *gasp* Trion realizes that players’ happiness in Rift matters in the financial long haul.
The hacking issue of the past several weeks is a good case in point. Any new game is going to be subject to those who just take pleasure out of ruining other people’s fun and Rift has been no exception. Accounts were being hacked at an alarming rate and players were rightly ticked off about it. Trion not only kept the lines of communication open with the player base but they created a quick and effective work around in the Coin Lock system. Being a victim of the hackers, I was pleased to see how efficient Trion was at getting the issue under control. And they’re not finished yet. Just the other day, mobile authenticators were released.
The bottom line is that Rift is fantastic IF you are looking for something you can jump into and that has all of the best features from the most successful MMOs of the past decade made better.