The story of the tortoise and the RIFT

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.

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15 thoughts on “The story of the tortoise and the RIFT

  1. The news of Storm Legion has also reignited my feelings for Rift. I stopped playing Rift around November/December last year primarily as my close friends had quit the month before to return to Warcraft of while waiting on SWTOR.

    Trion have impressed me from day one with Rift, they have always been prompt with releasing decent quality content while trying to push the boundaries of what they can do within their MMO. Their biggest achievement to date though has to be just how much they actually listen to what their subscriber base wants from their game and how well they interact through their various channels.

    I’ve reactivated my sub while I wait for GW2 and MoP… who knows, maybe I’ll end up jumping on the Storm Legion bandwagon too. At the moment I’m still trying to find my feet again – I’m playing my level 50 Rogue as I didn’t want to level up solo – fingers crossed I can find a EU guild of a similar ilk to the one you’ve joined.

  2. Yeah I think honestly the news of the expansion, and it being so great sounding, grabbed us all by the head and forced us to evaluate it. As I went through on my own blog, they have really kicked some ass in the last year and implemented a lot of good changes. I spent the weekend playing it, created a new character and got it to 18, and I have to say the overall experience of playing the game is much improved. Essentially anything Trion does, they really spend a ton of time on the little details, so as a result it ends up polished to a mirror shine.

    I essentially subbed to the game for roughly a year, despite only really playing for it for four months. it is almost like I felt I was donating towards a good cause. While I myself had gotten bored, I had a great deal of faith in the Trion team. It feels like that faith has been repaid in full and then some. Basically Rift is still a theme park “wow-like” game, but I think it is hands down the best of breed. Hopefully the expansion talk will reignite the fires for others as well. Like I said in my blog post, Rift is like a comfy chair.

  3. I think of Rift as “the little game that could” – they haven’t got the resources of EA or NCSoft behind them, they don’t have the celebrity that 38 Studios had (unless you count Hartsmann as a celebrity) – but they keep pumping out content and improvements. Obviously, as someone who’s playing the game, I would say that, but still.. It’s remarkable what Trion have been able to do with the game in terms of development and iteration.

    It’s also remarkable to consider them alongside 38 Studios: both comapnies had aroud $100 million to develop their game; Trion reputedly spent half of that to launch Rift, 38 Studios didn’t even give us an alpha for more or less the same money. Trion have successfully expanded into MMO markets that Western publishers have traditionally found difficult to get footholds in: South Korea, China, South-East Asia. I remember Turbine promising to do this with LOTRO years ago, and to date nothing has happened. Trion are a classic case of the difference that good management makes.

    It *is* just-another-fantasy-game; it *isn’t* the Second Coming that so many gamers seem to hunger for (and note to all such: your Second Coming *isn’t*); it is, however, a successful, profitable, subscription-based MMO gameworld. For those of us who play specific MMO games sufficiently intensely for subscriptions to be attractive, what’s not to like?

  4. I’m playing as well since they were kind enough to give me a free retail code. It really is a fine game, completely familiar but with a nice fresh coat of paint on it. I doubt very seriously that I’ll stay past the 30 days; there’s too much other stuff to play this summer.

  5. I am waiting for Bioware to make Scott Hartsmann an offer he can’t refuse. And I have to admit, I did update my install and played a new character to level 5, but other responsibilities kept me from going further. I also have to decide where to put my subscription budget: Sony, Rift, TSW and resub WOW for MoP. Pick two.

  6. Question for those playing regularly or just this past weekend, is the intro area branching out. ot the same tutorial, lowbie area as they launched with? That is, if I start a new character, will I get a different leveling/story experience than I got a year ago?

  7. It’s a great game, though it has been rather overshadowed by others since such as SWTOR. Good timing on the expansion and very ambitious changes planned. I liked how polished Rift was, the AoE looting, the very nice quest tracking system. The public quests were good but the class system was perhaps the real star of the game for me, this makes me very interested to read what the new souls might be…

  8. I feel bad in a way because i really like the game and Trion itself but i stopped playing in anticipation for GW2. If it were not for GW2, then I’d still be all over Rift.

  9. Yeah, I resubbed to Rift just yesterday. Seemed like the right time to try it again. Already enjoy the fishing!

  10. I just popped in here after a three hour session on RiftLite. I logged in my 16th necro and dinged her 17, decided Millrush was too quiet, made a new Bhami on a much busy server and took her through the tutorial and into Meridian. Then I thought I’d just check on my level 18 Cleric on Millrush, logged in to a zone invasion of Silverwood and had a really great hour doing the big fire event there. Dinged 19 and called it quits for the night.

    This is the strength and the weakness of Rift. Everything that’s great about the game is in the first 20 levels. That’s not to say the rest of the zones aren’t very well designed – they are. I have two level 50s and I can vouch for the entertainment value right to the top. But it doesn’t get better. It’s a s good at level 15 as it is at level 50. Maybe not if you’re a raider or a heroic dungeon grinder, but the USP of Rift is rifting and rifting is the same at 50 as it is at 15.

    I’ll play Rift as long as there’s a Rift to play or a me to play it but I don’t need an expansion to do that. Rift Lite will do me fine. I might still buy the expansion all the same, though. Probably some time down the line when there’s a lull in other things going on.

    As for why Rift has prospered while so many other MMOs have stumbled – project management. MMO development seems long on visionaries and short on project managers and Scott Hartsman seems to be the go-to guy for getting stuff done right at cost.

  11. “Resting on your laurels” is a phrase that dates back to the earliest days of the Roman Empire and refers to awards given to acknowledge victory in battles and leadership in general.
    The laurel is a type of evergreen tree, and it’s foliage was made into wreaths which were worn in the manner of a crown on the head… there are numerous depictions of romans wearing these wreaths in triumphant poses. (On a related note; a “triumph” was a parade held to honor a great accomplishment of a leader, or military victory.)
    The phrase is derisive, and accuses the person it is directed at of dwelling on past accomplishments excessively instead of forging ahead towards new ones. ;-)

  12. “And while SWTOR sprinted out of the gate to get all the attention, it’s slowed down in releasing content updates ”
    seems like a sad state of affairs when a ~6 month old game gets chided for not releasing content updates. just sayin’.

    i hadn’t played in nearly a year, but after watching mr. ardwulf’s video on Rift, i decided to step in for a look-see. still as smooth as ever, but just too similar to games i’m tired of. i’m hoping the expansion will include an engineer-type class (ala GW2) and more of a steampunk vibe. there are constructs in the game already, wouldn’t be much of a leap. personally i feel the game needs something along those lines to set it apart from the crowd. then again, i’d still rather play GW2.

  13. RIFT is managed by a great team that actually updates their game and adds new features to it. If you look at the patch history of RIFT and compare it to other games that have been out for similar lengths of time, RIFT blows them away. News Flash: actually delivering a quality game and keeping it fun matters somehow when it comes to gamers. Weird!

  14. I think the Defiants are more Clockpunk—or “Magi-punk”—than Steampunk. An MMO (besides WoW) with Steampunk elelements would be a welcome addition to the genre though. :)

  15. Pingback: Gaming Lightly « The Frugal Gamer

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