Monday, June 27, 2011

Rift in Review, Part 1

Linz and Debbie would like to introduce their first guest blogger: Megan. She and Linz went to high school together. Megan is an avid PC gamer, and was kind enough to give us a thorough rundown on Rift, especially on its points versus WoW. Here is part one of her review. Come back tomorrow for part two.
It seems every new MMO brags that it will be the fabled “WoW Killer.” A slew of games have gone past with the label, including (but not limited to) Warhammer, Aion, Rift, Lord of the Rings Online. The only one of the many that seems to actually have a bit of steam to it to date, that can perhaps claim to have bitten a not insignificant portion of WoW’s 12 million strong player base off, is Trion’s Rift. No others seemed to take quite the direct aim for Warcraft like Trion did, with its “We’re not in Azeroth anymore!” campaign. My interest in WoW recently slid quite a bit, and I dabbled in Telara for a few months.

The game was quick and easy to pick up. Many WoW fanboys rant and rave about Rift being nothing but a WoW clone, and this complaint is not without a certain degree of merit. The default UI is strikingly similar to WoW, from the action bars to the party and raid frames. But, what people don’t remember (or refuse to acknowledge) is that WoW is now the Gold Standard in the MMO department. It redefined the genre, and it is what so many people expect in the new games. Way back when, before WoW became the monster that it is now, people also complained about WoW being nothing but an Everquest clone, which was the Gold Standard in its heyday. Part of what made WoW what it is today was its accessibility and its ease of pickup, and Trion uses this to its advantage. People familiar with WoW will be able to plunge right in and feel at home, while newcomers to the genre will be able to jump in with a very low learning curve. Being able to actually play the game itself very quickly is part of what will help it become successful, as nothing will turn you off a game quicker than having to slog through for hours just trying to figure out the basics.

An customizable raid and party frames, with indicators to show who has what buffs, debuffs, or heal-over-time spells active and a threat meter, showing exactly how far you have to go until the mob comes to gnaw on you.
 So what then makes Rift stand apart from WoW? The obvious - The Rifts! The namesake of the game is what the storyline revolves around. A quick story rundown: at your character’s creation, you are heralded as your world’s salvation. The world you are brought into has already been taken over by elemental Rifts and Lord Regulos. The remainders of your faction’s forces are now focused on holding the enemy back for just long enough for your character to be sent back in time, tasked with keeping Regulos from turning Telara into this Rift riddled wasteland. You are sent back to a point when the war is just beginning, when the Rifts reaching from the elemental planes are just starting to encroach upon the world. Your first encounters with Rifts are very simple, and a great introduction to the mechanic. As you level up, they become increasingly difficult, requiring greater skill, a larger group, or sometimes both to defeat. I enjoy this mechanic immensely, particularly the fact that they very often are not ignorable. The rifts at their beginning stages take over a swath of area, and any quest objectives are often unable to be completed until the rift is closed. As the rifts persist for longer periods of time, they spawn invaders that roam the country side, often going straight for quest locales, and if they aren’t defeated they may take over the quest locale, and any quests given or completed at that area are unable to be accessed until the invaders are defeated. There are some who detest this mechanic, who dislike having their routine interrupted for their playtime. Quite frankly, those people should go play a different game. The Rifts are one of the major differences of the game from its predecessors, and forcing you to confront them head on nails this difference home, as well as really giving you the sense that Yes, there is a War going on, and Yes, I am making a difference in this War.


Debbie said...

Seriously, you make this game sound so fun. I'm totally intimidated by MMOs, but I dig that there is a story to it other than just "get online, join other people, crush souls, lose social life". Eye opening indeed.

Megan said...

I think I even convinced myself! I had not played Rift for a bit before writing this up, but after, I said, "Wait a minute, why did I stop playing again?" and started back up again. The only bad thing about MMOs are that the game never technically ends - you have to figure out for yourself when to call it. I succeed at that sometimes better than others >.>