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MMORPG in-depth reviews, design ideas and analysis from a gamer/writer with thirty years experience

Author: Skuldin

Rift Review

Posted by Skuldin Monday April 4 2011 at 6:56PM
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Rift MMO Review

MMO Examiner is taking a look at the newest MMO on the market Rift: Planes of Telara. We will review some key elements for this MMO including graphics, immersion, races and classes, game play, crafting, PvP, character customization, fun factor, and an overall average of the scores between one and ten (ten being the best).
Character Creation Options:
Rating: 6
Like most modern MMORPG games, you are given two faction choices from the outset: Defiant and Guardian. The storyline is that the world was destroyed in a cataclysm and the survivors were the technology driven Defiant and the gods worshiping Guardians. Each faction has three races, both sides have a "human" race given different names, and an elven race. The Defiants get a half-ogre/elemental looking race (Bahmi) where the Guardians get dwarves as the only true difference. The racial abilities are very bland having been stripped to meaningless out of combat fluff just out of beta. The racial choices really only come down to the skin (appearance). I was underwhelmed with only three races per side and then further disappointed with the race abilities being neutered into the ground. While it wasn't game-breaking for me, it certainly was a negative. The models can be customized with a fair amount of choices between eye color, markings, facial features and to my delight height. There is also in-game armor dye that can be made from the apothecary profession or a dye merchant. The character model customization and armor dye moved this rating from a 4 to a 6 given the poor number or racial choices, standard faction number and pointless racial abilities at launch.
Game Play:
Rating: 7
The game runs well on an average rig like mine, I consistently have a ping under 100 and with graphics on average settings I run about 35 FPS. Those owning a better gaming rig can certainly have far better performance than I could pull off and the game looks good for an MMO. The combat animations were a negative to me and quite bland, in player-vs-player combat I found it very difficult to discern exactly what was happening to my character at a given time. The buff/debuff UI was also poor and did not aid in this. I moved quite a few of my buff and debuff timers to the center of my screen and it still did not help figure out abilities by just watching the poor animations. On a positive note, the game was noticeably without many glaring bugs and the movement was decently smooth although not to World of Warcraft's level. Overall this area was a plus rating only marred by a lack of noticeable buffs/debuffs and animations for specific abilities. The graphics were a major improvement in my book over World of Warcraft and they managed to keep the movement from being too stiff. I will mention the smooth launch here as well and I hope this sets the bar for how a MMO should launch.

PVE and Immersion:
Rating: 5

Rift took no steps forward in the genre in questing, game immersion or depth of character development. If I had never heard of Rift you could have easily convinced me this game was put out in 2003. The quests are the collect foozle tails, kill ten foozles, delivery and escort quests typical for the genre. The other problem was the sheer number of pointless quests was overwhelming and each quest gave only a tiny fraction of a level. They felt more like tasks or a job and they were not engaging in the least. I'm not sure on three characters ranging from 24th to 46th level that I ever read a full quest. The pacing in the game was very mediocre as well. I never felt like I "needed" to do anything, everything was more like a suggestion in regards to quests and Rifts. It's like the developers at Trion were scared they might offend one of their players by putting a sense of urgency on something. An old saying that pertains well to MMOs is, "A friend to everyone is a true friend to no one." Trion was so scared of offending anyone that they ended up with an offense to everyone that doesn't enjoy mindless quest grinding. As an MMO veteran I can get through it, but it felt more like work than fun. The dungeons were fun, but again with the five person group and use of the trinity (tank/heal/3dps) did not break any new ground in this area either. It all felt contrived and the story did not flow well.

  • Rifts: Joining public Rifts in the starting zones is fun and get you excited when the horn blows to sound the call to battle. By the time my character was in his mid-thirties they had lost their luster and became more of a "grind" or sadly a way to break up the monotony of the quest/task grind than any truly engaging experience. The invasions were better, but again they still didn't offer any new mechanics. By the time you had done one rift you could pretty much do them all. The addition of a bonus stage took even more away from the immersion, it took some all important Rift and added a Mario Brothers feel to it. I know it's a game but this game is supposed to have a different feel than Mario Brothers, I highly disliked the "bonus stage" implementation.
  • Character Development: There isn't any. You pick up three souls (specs) by the time you leave the starting zone and you may gather five more by picking them up one at a time and completing rifts in the first "real-world" zone (Silverwood for Guardians). For 2500 Favor (earned in PvP) you may buy your 9th soul. The bonus to the souls was that you could mix and match and try to make hybrid builds. The negative is that you never had a true identity for your character. One minute he's a song-spinning healing bard and the next he's a dual-wielding tank or assassin. If you don't care about immersion great, but for those that do, prepare to never identify with your character at all. There are no "out of combat skills" in the game at all such as climbing, swimming or diplomacy. Standard for the typical cardboard MMO, but still leading one to only bash skulls and never have to think or develop the character much. Another game that has no RP in MMORPG missing housing, an ability to have "appearance gear" like LOTRO (where you can wear one set of gear for appearance and a second set for stats) or any type of character choices. You are on rails the whole way through.
  • Story: Bland and unimaginative, it's like watching the formulaic romantic comedy only applied to MMOs.
  • End-Game: If you are a veteran of World of Warcraft; you will know this game's end-game including "tier gear" and "expert dungeons". If you are not I'll give a quick synopsis. The same dungeons you ran from level one through fifty are now rehashed only more difficult and keyed for level fifty characters. You run these many times over for plaques and/or gear to be ready for raids. The first set of gear you acquire are called tier one sets and have epic stats and then you do raids and collect better loot for the next set of raids ad nauseum.
Crafting and Economy:
Rating: 7

  • Crafting: World of Warcraft set the standard for this game's crafting, and like many parts of this Frankenstein monster of a game, Rift did nothing to advance upon it. Three collection professions and six creation professions are your options. Of course most of the professions that "create" something are major money/time sinks in the game meant to eat up hours collecting flowers, nodes or butchering animals to create into items. Apothecary can make dyes and they split up the weapon and armor smiths, but it is fairly standard fare for the genre. I found the "gray" daily quests to be an annoyance and the rare drop distillates in apothecary to be particularly burdensome. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't nearly as engaging as say Vanguard or as smooth as World of Warcraft. I've seen worse and I've seen better.
  • Economy: It's early into the game but so far the economy was decent, but I found the amount of deposit you had to put down for trade goods and "green" items to be a bit high. Artifacts (items you collect in the game to make sets) on the other hand, only cost a single silver to put on the auction house and they would sell from 10g to as much as 3 plat for a blue that I sold. A collectible item found throughout the world was by far my most steady source of income.
  • While I'm here, the auction house was average, a step below World of Warcraft. Simple auction house features such as setting an amount of items per stack and then how many stacks was not available. If for instance you had twenty of one particular item that you wanted to sell into stacks of five, you had to have room in your inventory and shift-click creating a stack of five. Instead of it then asking if you wanted to sell four stacks of five it would only allow you to sell one stack at a time thus you had to shift-click and use a slider bar four separate times to create your four stacks of five. It turned what in World of Warcraft was a five minute auction house visit into a twenty minute ordeal. I had to literally plan part of my night into whether or not I was going to put items on the auction house or not.
Rating: 6

  • Warfronts: Staged and instanced fights exactly like World of Warcraft's battlegrounds. They are fun until you see how much you have to grind them for the PvP gear and prestige ranks. They offer nothing new inventive or dynamic. They do not further the story or game in anyway and typically involve kids yelling at each other while people "fight in the middle".
  • Open World PvP: If you play on a PVP server and are in contested zones you may engage in fairly pointless PvP combat much like World of Warcraft (I'm seeing a theme here). People have begged for some zones to fight over with a greater point but up through 1.1 there are no signs of this changing. I am a PvP player at heart, but mindlessly running around "ganking" people loses its luster without a greater point to the fighting. Also for those old Dark Age of Camelot and to a lesser extent Warhammer fans, sorry no keeps to battle over and no relics.
  • Combat: Early on warriors were doing too much damage, mages too little and saboteurs (rogue soul) too much burst with two buttons. Most of this has been corrected and the PvP in the game has great potential to be fun, if they can give it to a point beyond the mindless Favor grind. The ability to change specs on the fly while non-immersive, was a nice way to balance the paper-rock-scissors that other games suffer from.
  • Valor Stat: Those familiar with World of Warcraft will recognize this stat as resilience and it was a game-breaker for me. The inability to collect gear in a dungeon and PvP to be used in PvP was a serious negative from my standpoint. The complete separation from PvP and PvE players was a major drawback in my opinion in World of Warcraft and now Rift because there are a large number of people that like to do both. The trouble starts when I have to choose one or the other because the gear that can be used to slay a demon lord is inexplicably useless against a player in PvP. A huge negative right there.
Overall Average: 6.2
A six feels like a harsh score given how smooth the launch was. The customization of the souls and overall feel of the game was also nice, but the game felt (no pun intended) soulless. It was seriously missing a stickiness that kept me wanting more. Rift took a gamble making a WoW clone when many people already have WoW-fatigue and for me that along with the Valor stat was the game-breaker. The end-game was another 'grind expert dungeons to do raids' set-up that has really plagued the genre for years. There are better ways to handle this but Rift took no chances with their investors and stayed tried and true much like they did the rest of the game. If you were a World of Warcraft veteran and loved it, but want new skins, a different way to handle class trees, and the occasional Rift to battle this is the perfect game. If you are looking for a game with more "point" to its PvE/PvP experience, immersion or "next-generation" technology Rift is not the game for you.




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