Speaking of returning to older MMOs, yesterday I reinstalled RIFT and rolled a brand-new female dwarf cleric named Herbie. The pull to check RIFT out again came from the awesome video Trion posted yesterday as well as Stargrace’s nattering on about the new festival. And I am a complete sucker for in-game festivals, carnivals, and fairs.
It’s always strange coming back to a game after an absence, because there’s a lot of catching up to do. And when it comes to RIFT and Trion’s insanely packed update schedule, there’s more changes than you’d expect after six months. Lots of little things, really, like preset “classes” during the character creation that give you a build of three souls, changes to the map to make things clearer, instant adventures, and so on. What definitely pleased me is how quick I was able to go from not having the game on my hard drive at all to playing it — about 15-20 minutes, really. Considering how large the game is, I’m guessing this is due to a new streaming client downloader or something, or else Trion’s just gotten really good about packing that code in nice and tight.
In some ways, it was like I never left. Everything about RIFT is so familiar that I just slipped right back into it. Like SWTOR, the combat is quick (which I can never say about LOTRO) and the animations are engaging. And while SWTOR may have a huge edge in story, I still feel that RIFT’s character building system is way more interesting than the paltry few talent tree choices that BioWare’s MMO offers.
What was really cool about returning was the bounty awaiting me in my mailbox. Seriously, I think my new character had about fifteen pieces of mail, all with goodie attachments. Some were from the CE, one from the six-month anniversary, many from veteran unlocks, one from the account security snafu, and so on. I love the feeling of loading up a newbie character with all of these material possessions that can be used right away, and I quaffed an XP boosting potion so that I could speed level to 10 and enjoy the festival.
Speaking of which, the carnival is just a hoot. It’s pretty compact with three (I think) games, some booths and vendors and a hilarious fortune-telling witch (“you will slay many monsters and find a lot of gold!”), but it is just sheer fun. I noticed that everyone was ignoring two of the games to play the balloon-popping one, due to the fact that if you join a raid for it, you can complete the quest (and get the prize ticket) in mere seconds. Rinse and repeat. I think this may be a tad bit of an exploit, but considering how expensive the prizes are, I don’t care.
Another cool returning moment was checking out the RIFT Mobile app on my iphone. Not only does it have pretty nifty guild functionality (chat and a message wall, for starters), but the “lootables” section is something I’ve never seen before in MMOs. Basically, it’s like lottery scratchers that can give your in-game character certain rewards if you win. You get one credit (attempt) every hour, and up to six credits can be stored at a time. I’ve already won several beads for the festival rewards, so I’m not complaining here! It’s not a huge feature, but I gotta admit, it’s one of those things that makes me love Trion all the more.
So will I subscribe to RIFT or just stay a perpetual level 20? That’s hard to say. I’m definitely committed to my SWTOR subscription for a while to come, and I don’t like the idea of having two subs if I’m playing several games at a time. Then again, it’s not bank-breaking either. Then again again, there’s a lot coming up in the near future, so I may not even have time for RIFT. But for now? It’s really neat to return and see what Trion’s done with the place.
P.S. — Every MMO needs to have a post like this on the official forums to bring returning players up to speed with all of the changes. Seriously, this is a no-brainer.