I intentionally stopped talking about Rift for a week or so because I wanted to refocus my energies on LOTRO and not to burn out talking about/thinking about Rift as we count down the final month before launch. But that week is over, and I guess here we go again!
More than anything else, I’m really dying to know how Rift is going to play out as a game. Not whether it will succeed or fail financially, but whether people will accept it despite its similarities to other games, whether the dynamic content will have staying power, and whether it will end up being the game that Trion Worlds wants it to be.
Another question I’ve been mulling over is if players are going to feel a lack of identity in the game. For most MMOs, you ARE your class — “I’m a captain in LOTRO”, “I’m a blood DK in WoW”, “I’m a Dark/Dark Defender in CoH”. You identify yourself as that class and, by extent, the roll that class or build plays.
Enter Rift, where there are an extreme lack of “classes” (called “archetypes” here). You’re one of four archetypes, which means that no matter what you pick, 25% or so of the rest of the game is right there with you. Sure, you have eight souls and a mind-boggling amount of builds you can make with them, but how do you identify yourself in this setting? “I’m a 50/16/0 Reaver/Warlord/Beastmaster” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, nor is it that easy to decifer.
You could try to say what you DO in terms of a role — “I’m a healer/tank/DPS/pet-master/buffer” — but that’s not only generic-sounding, but pointless in a game where anyone, with a flick of a key, could be that too. Every archetype can perform multiple roles, often overlapping with other archetypes.
See what I’m getting at? The more flexibility they give the character system, the less chance you have of being a distinct anything. It’s a game where you — and everyone else — can change quickly, easily and often.
So what will people end up identifying themselves as? I’m guessing specific builds that will be given spiffy names by the players, but who knows?