We all know the belabored metaphor of the tortoise and the hare: The hare being the very projection of overconfidence and hubris racing against a tortoise, representing stubborn determination and played by Sean Astin in the major motion picture. The tortoise wins in the end, not due to a feat of speed or superior skill, but because he kept on plugging along as the underdog while the hare, basking in all the attention and knowledge of assured victory, took a nap.
Is the tortoise RIFT?
Last year, RIFT was all the hotness and it would’ve been quite laughable to paint it as an under-anything. It launched smoothly to surprising acclaim and grabbed more players than most anticipated. Yet it suffered under the tide-me-over syndrome for some players. Players like myself admitted they liked it, but since there were bigger titles on the horizon, it was the fresh new MMO to die us over until SWTOR and GW2 launched. I kind of assumed RIFT would fade hard after SWTOR, but it seems to be doing just fine. And while SWTOR sprinted out of the gate to get all the attention, it’s slowed down in releasing content updates while RIFT’s been plugging away at sizable patches every month, month and a half for the past year.
Now there’s word of an expansion and it’s like, “Oh, hey! RIFT is still alive! And… it’s kind of kicking everyone’s butt!” Or maybe it just feels that way because my attention’s swiveled that way, but it definitely feels good to have an MMO “win” in these past few weeks. RIFT’s proven that the sub-only model can do well, particularly when backed up by an insanely hard-working team that isn’t resting on its laurels. I assume “laurels” means “tuckus,” but I’ve never looked it up.
Anyway, I’m all sorts of buzzed about RIFT and that is certainly not what I expected for June of 2012. I mean, with GW2 and TSW on the horizon, why would I be looking back? But this past weekend I played several marathon sessions to get reacquainted with the game and found myself really excited to log in once more.
Sometimes that’s how it is. Sometimes you just need to take a break, let a game mature, let the ground go fallow, then dive back in. Sometimes MMOs deserve a second chance after that first impression.
Lots of it is still incredibly familiar — after all, it wasn’t THAT long ago that I was in the game. I sped through Silverwood at a breakneck pace, knowing all of the quests like I did them yesterday. I’ve been doing a nice combination of questing/dungeoneering/rifting, depending on what’s available, and I’ve shot from level 1 to 24 in the space of three days. Better yet, I found an incredible guild that’s right up my alley: welcoming, chatty, and constantly doing stuff together. Pretty much every day they post two or three events that they’ll be doing, from weddings to raids, and if you’re interested you just show up. By day two, I was already pulled along to do crafting rifts, even though I couldn’t really contribute. It’s nice to be wanted.
From what I can tell, everyone in the game is pretty happy about the expansion (although the game is starting to annoy us with hourly server-wide messages informing us of said expansion) as well as the incoming 1.9 patch. As for me, I’m just pushing hard to level so that I can do more stuff, but also to have enough time to go through all of the zones before the expansion comes out (and before other games rob my time and attention). I think RIFT will turn out to be a perfect second game for June, as my schedule’s shifting around to summer mode and I have more free evenings ahead.
I have no doubt that BioWare’s going to be working hard to bring SWTOR up to par in the features department, but it’s probably learning along with the rest of the industry where the bar is set for content updates. That would be on the tortoise’s back, if you’re curious.