Posted in RIFT

RIFT: Against my better judgment

What a weird feeling it is to consider an old favorite MMORPG that still exists but could be shut down at any moment. There’s that internal tug-o-war between not wanting to risk any more time and interest in a game that could go belly-up soon and wanting to take advantage of the time that’s still left, knowing that you might regret not later on. So it is with RIFT. Ever since Gamigo bought it and pretty much abandoned it, I’ve tried my hardest to ignore that it exists. Call it a survival mechanism. Close off that path to caring, and it won’t hurt as much when this downhill slide goes off a cliff and crashes onto the rocks of cancellation.

But against my better judgment, I’m back — at least for a short spell. The advantage of being a blogger is that even hopeless game journeys are still worth it for the post material alone. It’s not in vain! And, honestly, I was curious what kind of community still existed here.

It was very eerie to see my previous characters on the select list — most without names, since they’ve been reclaimed — but I went ahead and made a new Cleric for the classic leveling experience. Along for the ride is her faerie, Widdershins.

What was absolutely wild was the familiarity of RIFT that came crashing down on my head when I logged in. This game, perhaps more than other MMOs, is such a gourmet feast of sight and sound triggers. It’s so slick and easy-to-use that I wish it would be the standard for most MMOs. I spent the first half-hour sorting out the deluge of initial mail and finding a friendly guild (through the ever-so-helpful guild finder). Hey, there are still people playing! That’s something, at least.

As I went through the tutorial, two thoughts competed for my attention. The first was the reminder that despite its fall from grace, RIFT remains a very well-made and fun-to-play MMO. It’s really got the full package, and the ability to create your own build from three talent trees is a ton of fun right from the start.

The second thought was that RIFT truly deserves a second chance under better management. I’m at a loss as to how this might happen, as Gamigo is likely to bleed it dry and then discard it without any further development. But if a different studio could get ahold of it, if some sort of active support could happen, and if a fresh start server could be rolled out (preferably without IAs and some of the more questionable F2P practices), it could see a renaissance. It’s not out of the realm of possibility; plenty of MMOs have had second starts under new management.

Or perhaps Gamigo simply gives up and hands the source code over to the community. A volunteer dev team can’t possibly do less than what Gamigo is doing for RIFT right now.

In any case, by the end of the Guardian tutorial, I was fully tooted and revved up for a full questing journey through this old favorite. I started working on a build that will utilize a faerie pet and lots of instant spells and DOTs for agile casting.

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