As we close in on our official review of Rift, I think we’ll drive home the point of our review much better if I take some time to punctuate the thing by spending the next two lists on my own personal takes on what Trion’s freshman release has done right, and what it’s done wrong. Keep in mind, as always, that these lists are just my opinion. You’re completely free to disagree, and I encourage you all to discuss the merit of this content below. That said next week I promise tackle five things that Rift doesn’t do quite so well in order to assure you I’m not just some gloating “fanboy.” These are in no particular order either. Now then, all the explanatory stuff and disclaimers out of the way… let’s dive in shall we?
Some will disagree that it’s a great addition, and others will point out that it’s not an innovation (Warhammer had it after all). But both of those conceits are neither here nor there, I think because for Rift the feature becomes relied upon so heavily for open world Invasions, and eventually serves as an excellent way for players on the same quest to quickly group together and share objectives without having to spend a lot of time hunting for players. The downside is that it promotes quick joining and quick leaving of groups with no real social interaction. Or even worse, you join a player, start talking to them and helping them on the quest you both share when without a word you’re kicked from the group. Listen buddy, if you wanted to be a loner, that’s fine… just turn off the public group feature so I don’t mistakenly think you’re actually polite and social.
The Ascended Soul System
Again, the issue of balance could easily be brought up for why this part of the game is less than perfect. And hey, I know that nothing’s really perfect anyway, so does it really need to be said? My point is that the Ascended Soul system is a great way to add tons of replayability to a game that has only two real paths through the leveling content. Mixing and matching souls and skills until I make the Cleric of my dreams for each situation I could be put in is a dream. I have one for solo-ing, one for group PvE, and another for PvP. I can swap them out at any time (so long as I’m out of combat), and the ability to re-spec each individually means I can tinker until my heart’s content.
Invasions as Content
I sincerely did not expect these ad-hoc open world raids to be as fun as they turned out to be. There are downsides, namely that in an empty zone they become something you avoid rather than something you rush toward. But as the game’s population is still pretty hefty, that’s rarely a problem in my experience. Tie in the rewards that can be somewhat easily obtained in through partaking in each different type of invasion and you have a winning formula for fun. There’s rarely been a time that an invasion which happened when I was logged in wasn’t an immediate call to arms for all able-bodied Defiants to band together and bust some NPC skulls. What’s more fun though is when PvP comes into the mix. Invasions, once something I saw as a slightly improved Public Quest, are now one of the chief reasons I like Rift.
Leveling Through PvP
Rift’s team-based PvP isn’t my ideal form of MMO competition. As I’ve stated elsewhere I prefer the open world, several sided combat that unites factions and gives rewards at the same time. That said I am not opposed to Match-Made contests from time to time, and being that Rift sports a hefty amount of Warfronts (Battlegrounds, Scenarios, etc.) I’ve spent my fair share of time in them. It’s not exactly a novel feature, but I am very happy that the time I spend in these Warfronts not only awards me currency to buy rewards, but helps to level my character as well. I get experience for killing players, and experience for participating in the Warfronts. It’s never “wasted time” when it comes to progression and I appreciate that greatly.
Mounts at Level One
Maybe there are other games that did this at launch and I’m just forgetting them, but it’s extremely gratifying that Rift made it possible for every player to own and use a basic mount at level one. Sure you have to have the cash (or the Collector’s Edition which comes with an ugly as can be turtle mount), but if you do you can start off the game with a mount making travel across the game’s landscape much less time consuming in your early days. Got alts? Send them the paltry amount of platinum needed to buy one and take them to the capitol right from the start. I haven’t tried it, but who knows maybe you can mail a mount to your alt too. In any case, this is one of many little touches that Trion put in to make the gaming experience in their flagship title that much more enjoyable for me.