Posted in RIFT

RIFT: T-Minus 28 Hours And Counting…

For someone who’s a little over a day away from a game he’s been anticipating for months now, I’d have to say that I’m a paragon of “cool as a cucumber.”  It helps that I’m terrifically busy this week, and trying to get everything done so that I’ll have an afternoon or two to play without interruptions means that I’m working like a dog right now.

As I type this, I’m reinstalling RIFT (if you have a beta or alpha version, you need to uninstall that and then hit up the site to get the new version) in preparation for tomorrow’s head start at 1pm EST.  No doubt the servers will get slammed, there might be problems, and I should just steel myself for potential frustration, but these things too shall pass.

I’ve finally settled on a starter character: I’m going to play a Dwarf Guardian Rogue on Faeblight.  Why a Rogue?  I went back and forth on this a lot, but ultimately decided that it’d be good for me to get out of my typical groove and go for a more action-oriented class.  The fact that Rogues can use rifles, spec for healing/support, and even tank if needed appeals to me, plus I love the bomb-chucking saboteur soul.  It’s not like I — or anyone else — isn’t going to roll three other characters anyway.

Generally, I think most people who were interested in RIFT are pretty jazzed at this point, particularly because there are no major red flags that we can see.  Sure, some folks just don’t like what’s offered or think it’s more of the same, but that’s more personal preference than genuine criticism.  It’s not perfect, of course, and there are people poking hard at it to see if they can find that soft spot of disillusionment they need.

For example, Game Genus is down on RIFT for the number of at-launch zones compared to (sigh) World of Warcraft’s list of 2004 zones.  Okay, putting aside how tiring and frustrating it is for people to constantly be comparing everything to WoW (and whether having “less” than WoW makes something “not good”), let’s look at this and see if it has merit.  Is RIFT anemic in zones and size, and will that bite the game on the butt in the long run?

I think the most legitimate complaint are the number of starting zones (two), although most players will probably only go through these four times, so it’s not as major of a problem as other games.  It’s just a little thin.

As for the rest of the world, sure, it’s smaller than some game worlds.  I think it has to be, and I think it’s ultimately best for the type of game world that Trion is making.  What Game Genus doesn’t get is that the bread-and-butter of RIFT is the dynamic content, not the size of the world, and if everyone gets too spread out, then the fun of that dynamic content is reduced dramatically.  Case in point, WAR.  WAR had a great idea with public quests, and they were fun in the first tier or so — when everyone was in the same areas and level range.  But after a while the population got spread out, the zones got far bigger, and the popularity of PQs took a severe nosedive.  You simply need a critical mass of players for these events to be fun.

And — pardon the cliche — but it’s not the size so much as what you do with it.  We all know RPG and MMORPG worlds that can boast absolutely vast square footage but have little content to fill it all.  Size for size sake — or many more zones just for numbers’ sake — can be a detriment rather than an asset.  I’m always of the opinion that whatever space is in the game should be used and used well, and from what I’ve seen so far in RIFT, that’s the case.

Plus, there’s nothing stopping Trion from expanding the world as I’m sure they will be.  If 14 zones are a dealbreaker for you, then, yes, RIFT’s probably not for you.  Personally, it’s a bit of a non-issue.

25 thoughts on “RIFT: T-Minus 28 Hours And Counting…

  1. The only red flag at this point is, as you said, the impending crush of logins.

    The only saving grace, I hope, is that the servers open during the day, and not EVERYONE can take the day off from work/school. Those of us who have, however…

  2. Definitely agree with your zone size argument. That sort of stuff also just affects PvP in general. The bigger the place is the less you’re going to see other people. Size does not necessarily equal quality.

  3. I’ll be on Faeblight too, and rolling a Rogue as well. I’m so stoked to play the game right now.

    But, I’m pretty certain, I’d be sitting on queue once I get home tomorrow night. So, I got myself a graphic novel. Something to read while waiting.

  4. On Faeblight too, but the opposite side, Defiant. May my shield not smash your face too hard. 😛

  5. There seemed to be fewer but larger zones; the rifts add a decent amount of extra stuff to do while you’re running around levelling.

  6. Yeah, I think Nina has it right. The first zones are level 1-20. In WoW, if we’re going to compare, that’s two zones worth of leveling, right?

  7. I agree with you here, Syp; while I wasn’t enthralled with RIFT in my limited beta experience, the idea of having a bigger game world is counterproductive to the dynamic content they’re hyping as one of the two big features (souls being the other). This is a knock that doesn’t make much sense.

  8. I generally prefer more zones so that I don’t have to repeat the exact same content each time, but considering that there are multiple ways to level (questing/rifting/PvP), I don’t think it’ll be a huge issue.

    I’d rather see a lot of people out and about in the zones anyway. It feels more alive that way.

  9. “some folks just don’t like what’s offered or think it’s more of the same, but that’s more personal preference than genuine criticism.”

    As someone who holds this opinion, I think this is a rather dismissive attitude to take, and smacks of launch-day hype.

    The single biggest problem with MMOs is repetitiveness, bar none. Rift’s BTDT design means that every player is starting out having essentially repeated it thousands of times already. Sure, there’s some new shinies, but those wear off quickly – take a look at WoW’s expansions. Rift is this year’s Aion – it’ll be big and shiny (look, we can fly!!) for about two months, and then it’ll drop off the radar because in the end it offers nothing new.

    And that’s the reason your dismissal is so annoying. In an industry that can’t seem to stop making the same game over and over and over and over and over again, “more of the same” is not just personal preference, it’s a deep flaw in the entire genre.

    And if you doubt that, ask yourself which you’d be playing if Guild Wars 2 were launching tomorrow, too.

  10. IMHO a lot of people will be annoyed because Rift will not be a disaster they think will be…

  11. I’ve pre-ordered and got sucked into the value that the Founder’s sub offers. But I gotta say I agree with Buhallin.

    The game is certainly fun starting out, the Rift events are exciting and cool. But you know, you’ll be doing the same exact thing at 30 as you did at 10 and as you’ll do at 40 and 50.
    1. Run from quest hub to quest hub.
    2. Run instance A,B,C,D,E…
    3. Go zerg close that rift over there.
    4. PvP (BG’s on PvE servers or hope to find enemies on PvP servers)
    5. Sidestep the elite invasion thats coming at you and let it pass.

    And with how quick the leveling curve is, it will be at most 2 months when even the most casual of casual players will be at endgame. I certainly hope they have a lot of planned content to release quickly, fluff content, better crafting, etc. Cuz if its just gonna remain combat, combat and more combat….we’ll see.

    Its like I read on another forum…people are excited about Rift because they are just tired of their current mmo’s. While not true for everyone, its definitely true for me. And while a lot of people won’t admit it aloud, they should really think about it and see if it could be true for them too.

  12. I’m looking forward to RIFT a lot too although it’s a little annoying how you have to download the full client again, especially with only 24hours (or so) to do it. But I will survive 🙂

    Excited about tomorrow!

  13. I find myself in agreement with Buhallin which is worrying since I bought rift. If I get a good 30 day experience however then its worth the money and takes me a bit closer to SWTOR.

  14. @Gordon — I downloaded the whole thing this morning in less than an hour. Trion not throttling bandwidth ftw!

    I haven’t taken tomorrow off, but I will be getting off a little early in the afternoon. . . . Very much looking forward to the headstart. I’ll be a Defiant on Faeblight for my 1st toon, and will eventually have the 4 archetypes, plus probably 2 alts on the Guardian side too 😉

    Just wish Hartsman had brought the whole “player faction doesn’t matter on a pve server” concept over from EQ2 with him. Ah well.

  15. If you think that RIFT is more of the same, then that IS your opinion, one that I do not share after playing the game for a while. It’s a subjective criticism rather than an objective one, which is why I took more of a “dismissive” attitude toward it. It doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant for you to hold that opinion, just that when I look for serious day one red flags, I’m looking for criticism that is based more on fact than on preference.

  16. Syp, proof Rift is more of the same – just like all other MMOs I press W to move forward, S to back up, A to turn left and D to turn right! When will games happen where my toon moves where i think it should move to, now that would be innovative.

    Anyways, myself and all my guildies cant have tomorrow come any sooner.

  17. I’m just as tired as everyone else over the “RIFT is more of the same, why bother?” attitude, but I figure if those people aren’t willing to give it a chance, it’s their loss. Whether RIFT has staying power has yet to be seen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the attention and praise it’s getting.

    Jaded gamers can stick to their current games and leave RIFT to those of us who care enough to give it a shot. Refining some of the best the genre has to offer is not a valid, or objective, reason to dismiss the game. I’d rather they stay away than taint the experience with their negativity anyway.

    See you on Faeblight!

  18. 1. Rift is more of the same. I know what I like. I want more of the same.

    2. If GW2 and Rift were both launching tomorrow, which would I play? Well BOTH of course, duh! GW2’s pricing policy means I will automatically play it alongside whatever other MMOs I might be playing at the same time. That’s kind of the point.

  19. Syp, I’m with you in that “more of the same is a problem” argument – you’re right, that’s subjective. But if you’re going to argue that RIFT isn’t “more of the same (game)”, that’s objective – the vast majority of the mechanics and concepts certainly have been done before.

    Then again, the last game that tried to break the mold was FFXIV, and I don’t have to tell you how that ended – much to my disappointment.

    I think I’d enjoy RIFT for a month or two, but ultimately tire of the treadmill, and that’s my opinion. I’m sure there are others who will embrace it as their new main game of choice, and I hope they love it!

  20. So if “it’s not original” is only a personal preference, just how much of a clone does it have to be to be objectively a clone? And if a personal preference is widely held, is it still only a personal preference? The vast majority of coverage of this game has been in the “Well, it’s nothing new, but I’m enjoying it anyway” vein. It was my own experience in beta as well, and that of 3/4 of our play group. My family had never experienced Everquest, so we packed back in for the new progression server, and that’s providing much more of an original play experience than Rift did.

    I’m not necessarily going to be disappointed if Rift succeeds, except to the extent that it will tell me how incredibly dim the hopes are for the MMO genre ever growing beyond its current stagnant state.

  21. Heh. I think Buhallin and the like are missing something important. Rift may be to a degree ‘more of the same’–but even then, it’s more of the same being done *right*, which is something that can’t be said for the plethora of WoW-clones floating around.

    As far as the Zone size…seems about right to me–large enough to feel huge, but dense enough that you’re not running through a desolate wasteland to get from point to point (except where that’s *intentional*). It does, admittedly, feel a bit crowded when the larger Invasions roll through…

  22. @Buhallin

    Look, there’s no doubt that Rift follows WoW’s vision of the EQ/DikuMUD formula. There’s no doubt that it borrowed a lot from other MMOs. There are two things, though, that make the “more of the same” criticism subjective:

    1). the extent to which you see familiarity as a bad thing;

    2). and the extent to which you acknowledge those things that really make Rift unique, and they’re definitely there.

    Rift evolves the genre with its take on what systems should be in a MMO and how to best execute them. It both repackages and innovates here and there, while being familiar to anyone who has played a game like WoW.

    Even disregarding that, I find it completely irrational that its success would dim your hopes for the future of MMOs.

  23. Wow, I emerge from dormancy to make my first blog post in over a year and it serves as fodder for Syp! *boggle*

    I haven’t played any MMO in over a year, and the only thing I was looking forward to was GW2. Other than noting that Rift was getting a fair amount of mindshare amongst MMO bloggers I hadn’t been following it or planning to play it, but after trying the open beta I’ve preordered Rift and am eager for tomorrow’s headstart.

    The purpose of my post was to point out the difference in zone count at launch and get reaction. Once I compiled the two lists I was struck at the magnitude of the difference, and thought it would be a good discussion starter.

    Of course zone count is just one metric. I go for exploration myself, and for people who like to explore game worlds, size _does_ matter (see Minecraft). As does variety, which zone count also measures.

    But as you say, quality matters too, and I was happy to see in the open beta that there are collection items scattered around Rift’s landscape to find, and that the mountain ridges separating zones were not off limits. In fact, there’s an achievement for getting to the highest spot in Silverwood, which I thought was awesome (I promptly went and did it).

    I’m disappointed that the lack of a separate starting area for each race means less variety when levelling alts.

    In an interview with Develop last September, Trion Worlds CEO Lars Buttler said, “Rift will have new stuff added to it all the time, whereas World Of Warcraft and The Old Republic are traditional, static-content MMORPGs.”

    If true, this will be a good thing.

  24. @Nerokis: MMOs have been essentially unchanged at the very least since WoW, and the combat systems – the actual GAME – have been essentially unchanged since MUDs. Certainly, some things have changed in the tinkering around the edges, but the actual gameplay is, essentially, exactly the same. The Holy Trinity stands unchallenged, mobs are still so stupid it defies any sense of immersion, and you’re stuck in a world where everything you do is completely pointless, because an hour from now it’ll be right back the way it was, if it changes at all.

    We’re already deeply locked into this. Even massive efforts like TOR are changing it only slightly – they’re trying to pretty up the box and make it matter to you why you go do what you do, but once you get there it’s still the exact same game. GW2 promises bigger changes to the actual gameplay. Having played both at PAX, the latter is the only game I’ve seen in a long time to break the mold.

    It’s not delusional to think that Rift’s success will be bad for MMOs as a genre. In an arena which is already utterly dominated by copycat games and an utter lack of risk-taking in game design, Rift is the biggest copycat and risk-avoidance out there. If you’re happy doing more of the same with Rift, that’s awesome, but you’d better get used to it. Because the odds of us every getting anything different will go down dramatically if it does well.

  25. It is a good discussion starter — I was also thinking about the number of zones that LotRO launched with, which I believe were about 11. Mayhaps I’m a bit sensitive to the overuse of WoW comparisons as of late (not just with RIFT but with… everything). But good perspective, and welcome back to blogging!

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