It’s all over blogger town, the new MMO on the block: RIFT by Trion. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, it’s probably had the best timing than any of its brethren over the past 5 years, being released few months into Blizzard’s quickly aging Cataclysm. The MMO market isn’t endless: it’s rather a pie where every contender is greedily trying to lure customers over to his small piece – or at least that’s how it usually is, unless your name is Blizzard and you have such a long history and reputation that you can recruit whole masses of genre-noobs for yourself. This has no doubt always been one of WoW’s greatest achievements. Time to steal some of those people.
Within the first pre-launch week, RIFT has registered over 1 million player accounts and we’re not even talking official launch yet. You can call that a success or not, it catapults RIFT up there among the other top MMOs which are WoW, Aion and Eve Online. It’s certainly a very promising start and one can only hope that with growing subscriptions the game will continue to get better, which is the endless story and dilemma of online games.
For those of you that expect their next MMO after WoW to be groundbreakingly different, you’re probably looking for the wrong game though: RIFT is classic. It stays true to the concept and looks that make MMORPGs. Personally, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing considered what Trion is up against and what people want and are used to.
After playing the open beta and registering for the early launch week, I am still duly impressed: this game is coming with a polish. It looks beautiful and I have yet to see a bug, disconnect or lagspike despite all my settings being maxed (a thing I was never able to do in WoW). This has gotta be the smoothest MMO launch I have ever witnessed from install to ingame, a few crowded servers aside. Gameplay is intuitive and engaging, the class system offers flexibility and variety. The rift events make the world around you feel alive – there’s something happening out there for a change.
Most of all however, RIFT is that: something new. Not so different maybe, but new and so needed and overdue for the tired and fed up in WoW’s playerbase. A new world to explore, new races, factions, skills, quests. A new take on an old concept. A new surprise around the corner, sometimes familar, sometimes strange. And enough eye candy to go with it, even if I miss proper soundtrack (again) on the side.
I don’t care if it isn’t mind-blowing, I don’t care it comes in a classic wrap. New is all I want right now.
Breaking with old habits
Breaking up and reaching for pastures new has been all over WoW guilds and the blogosphere these past few weeks. It certainly has been all around me and I’ve added my share by kissing my raiding career in WoW goodbye since. The right choice has never been more apparent to me. I need to get away, I need new – so much in fact that my RIFT character turns out to be as diametrically opposed to my old self, as possible: for over 6 years I have played and alliance healer in World of Warcraft. A pale human priestess with dark hair, a healing coordinator, a diplomat, a founder and leader.
No more. Defiant all the way. I love the drowess I created, tall and dark-skinned with the obligatory white hair and red eyes, the way R. A. Salvatore imagined them and made the race what it is for today’s fantasy genre. I play a potent Pyromancer with some Elementalist and Dominator thrown in the mix. A pure DPS, an offensive mage spec. She looks every bit the way a mage should look: dark, evil and unsettling (and if you prefer your chars to be ugly, you’ve plenty of chances to do that too). The only qualm I have is that I’m still a cloth-wearer or the transformation would be complete.
I’m enjoying running solo, exploring new maps and joining random groups for rift campaigns. No guild chat, no agenda, no progress list. I haven’t seen much yet by any stretch of the imagination and I’m very curious about the whole PVP side of the game which seems a lot more than just an afterthought. What I have seen so far has pleased me well and I am not in a rush.
More importantly: there’s not a thing that has managed to annoy or frustrate me yet in RIFT and that counts for something. I don’t care what happens in one month, for now I’m entertained and turn my foes into squirrels (yes you heard that right, squirrels!). I also die quite a lot and am loving every minute of it – well met death, what’s been taking you?
Pushing all the right buttons
There are rare artefacts hidden all over the world of Telara which you can pick up and store in your private collection. It’s a tiny thing, a silly trifle and I love it. It screams classic RPG too, the ones I used to play when I was younger – a sparkling bauble randomly found under a rock or stone, a treasure chest buried deep under the sea, a dusty old map lying in a dark corner. No silly tools to go with though, no map markers, no skill-up grind. Just a thing to chance upon.
And then I ambled into Meridian last night, the main city of the Defiant – turns out there’s an Artefact Master there who will award special currency for your completed artefact sets. The thing you can buy in return: companion pets.
Damn you, Trion! I dare say I shall play this a little longer. Some habits are hard to break.