Welcome back to another edition of Tripping the Rift, Telara fans! The MMO world is heating up! Whether its Elder Scrolls Online and the return of story-based high fantasy, or the impending launch of the lighthearted and Pixar-inspired Wildstar, it's a great time to be an MMO fan. For fans of RIFT, there's even more to look forward to with the yet unnamed upcoming expansion. But a lot has changed since Storm Legion hit the scene. Trion Worlds is going to need to step their game up, and if Blizzard has taught me anything, it's that stealing good ideas isn't a half bad plan. So let's pull on our black sweaters, shall we, and look at my top five ideas RIFT should steal for its next expansion.
Sea Travel and Naval Combat
You know, before I sat down to write this column, I toyed with the idea of writing a “Five Lessons RIFT Could Learn From ArcheAge” article. Instead, I settled on this, the biggest of big points. Can anyone tell me why ocean space always has to go to waste? It shouldn't. When I look at other large, open-world MMOs, the ability to hop in a boat and sail the high seas is always a major selling point. RIFT needs this.
What does sea travel offer, you might ask? A lot. How many stories have been written about the wonders of the sea? Kracken ahoy, matey! And while we're talking like pirates, why not give us the chance to play as one? This is a lesson RIFT could lift straight from ArcheAge. There is little so compelling as being able to build your own boat and make a life on the seas. Fishing could be expanded, exploration could be expounded upon, and all of those gaps between continents could finally be filled in. Even better, ship-to-ship warfare could provide a whole new way to play. I'm betting that there's entire worlds under those glassy waves. Why not put on a diving bell and find out?
Open World Building
We have the tools. We have the prowess. It's time to let us start shaping Telara. In a world where games like Landmark allow us to share our most creative selves right in the open world, Dimensions start to feel a little bit like walled gardens. Even the latest game in Trion's stable, ArcheAge, let's players make their mark, building homes, farms, and even castles. Or how about Trove? It might be a little behind but it's not to late to inject RIFT with the sandbox-y elements that it so desperately needs. Even if it's one zone where players shape the world like terraforming ants, I want to be able to see the handiwork of my fellow players somewhere in the open world.
Oh RIFT, how you've oscillated with this one. In the beginning, there were quests and they were good. Well, there were a lot of them and they granted experience, there's that. But in Storm Legion there was a distinct shift toward singular storylines and quest hubs which focused on single pieces until it was time to move on. It worked at the time but, sadly, now just feels a little bit old.
In 2.0, RIFT needs to reinvest in their storytelling. I'm not talking full voice acting but the day of the quest box is done. As much as I love to read deep pieces of story, the zeitgeist is now with active narration. We need cutscenes. We need events which happen in real time. We need meaningful choices. We need... more than just plain quests. Look at Wildstar for example. Their quests are short, to the point, and do a great job of masking that you're killing ten rats. Did I mention vignettes? Those too.
For the life of me, I can't understand why Trion hasn't already done this. There was some pre-launch talk about wanting players to embrace the game world. Right. But how about we get creative with it? RIFT has always had some steampunk elements to it. Why not airships? Airship battles? Floating houses? Cloud gardens? There is precedence to send us into the sky with the plane of air. Even if we can't fly like, say, World of Warcraft, there's no reason for us to stay rooted to the ground.
For RIFT 2.0 to blow us out of the water, we need to experience the game in a whole new way. Five hundred kilometers up seems like a pretty good start.
Sorry PVE fans, large-scale PVP is the new hotness. Guild Wars 2 came onto the scene and reminded us all that we love realm versus realm. Ever since, we've been pining for the best possible version of it. Heck, you have Elder Scrolls fans talking about how PVP is the best part of their Elder Scrolls game. If that doesn't clue you in than nothing will. The times have swung back around to large-scale, open-world PVP.
I know what you're thinking. Those games don't have open-world PVP! This is a PVE game! Yes and no. Yes, technically, Guild Wars and ESO feature instanced PVP. However, it also directly impacts the open-world and takes place in persistent regions that are, in fact, a part of the game world. And no, that RIFT is not a pure PVE game. That's what we call the echo chamber effect, here with other PVEers telling you PVP isn't important. The market says different. Trion needs to listen.
That's all from me, folks. How about you: if you could choose for RIFT to adopt any feature from another MMO, what would it be? Let us know in the comments below!
Christopher Coke / Chris has been an MMO player since the days of MUDs. It was all words back then, like “cast THIS” and “quaff THAT.” In the style of his forbears, FOLLOW him on Twitter at @GameByNight and READ his blog at gamebynight.com.