Rift Beta 4: The Likes

RiftCataclysm

The day Telara exploded.

Last time I talked about Rift it was the negatives and things I was worried about due to Beta 4. At the end of that I said I was still going to buy the game, but I didn’t get into any detail as to why. The following should clear that up and I hope will help push a few more readers to pick up this great game.

First of all let’s get the “it’s generic” argument out of the way. It’s true the game has very few “signature moves” so to speak. They aren’t touting something new to MMOs and that’s led a lot of people to write the game off without bothering to see more. But let’s look at some of the amazing games that have brought something new to the genre recently.

Warhammer Online – WAR brought the idea, as far as I know, of public quest. Quests that are zone wide and you don’t need to talk to anyone to accept the quest or help out.

Age of Conan – Amazing new melee combat with finishing moves that give Mortal Kombat a run for it’s money as far as blood goes.

Tabula Rasa – A more shooter oriented control scheme and a drastically different setting, making it a space aged shooter instead of a fantasy world. Perhaps not the first but one of the most high profile.

Auto Assault – A new setting of apocalyptic cars or whatever. You controlled a Twisted Metal meets Mad Max style monstrosity in a never ending destruction derby.

Matrix Online – It’s combat system was one of the more interesting things I’ve seen in any MMO in years. It was also, again, not fantasy.

Lego Universe – With it’s focus on building instead of questing Lego Universe might be the most unique MMO I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in action.

Now, there are many more MMOs that have come out recently touting one or more things that make them unique, and while a few on this list haven’t failed, and Lego Universe is too young to pass judgment on, can we honestly say that having something new and unique made these games amazing? Are we all still impressed with Public Quests? Hell, most of us were tired of PQs by the end of the beta. Did Age of Conan’s blood and interesting melee combat matter when you got to mid game and realized they didn’t have time to implement quests or sieges? How are Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault and Matrix Online doing with their unique bits?

The point here is that originality doesn’t make for a good game. In fact, some of the best games in other genres have focused more on polish than on innovation. Bioshock had nothing in it that wasn’t in other shooters, but it did everything just right. Same with Starcraft II and the RTS genre, or Uncharted II and the third person platformer/shooter genre. What about New Vegas? That was basically Fallout 3, and yet it was done so well, and with just a simple change of location, that the game was amazing.

So no, Rift isn’t unique, and it doesn’t have a “gimmick” like other MMOs that have come out or are coming out. Instead Rift has focused on making a good game, on perfected what they took from other games in the genre. What they’ve come up with, even in BETA, is one of the more fun MMOs I’ve played in a few years. Rift may or may not hold me through it’s end game, but it’ll definitely be enough to get me to end game.

Now that I’ve had my rant on originality, let’ get to the bullet point style list:

Rifts, while I am worried about them late in the games life, can be extremely fun and addictive. Are they an interesting way to get players to grind? Of course, that’s what any quest is, but that doesn’t make it not fun. In fact, on Sunday when Trion did the MASSIVE fire invasion, where the entire zone exploded in fire rifts and everyone had to run around closing rifts, fighting off invasions, and finally tracking down and murdering a high ranking Fire general, well that was the most fun I’ve had in any MMO since trying to sell fish stakes in front of the Brittania bank.

Another thing both me and my wife loved were the artifacts. Much like EverQuest II’s collectibles, even copying the “ball of golden light on the ground” look of them, Rift’s collectibles are something we both really enjoy. Neither of us plays EQII anymore, so having this feature in a game we do play is going to be a blast, whether you get anything for it or not, it gives the player something to do other than just fight.

RiftFight

Some of the spell effects are just badass.

Having your character not look like a retarded moose through most of the game is also a huge plus. This is due to the fact that, like Warhammer Online, you seem to have certain “looks” for certain level ranges, and while sometimes you’ll get something drastically different, for the most part you look pretty good. Add to this the fact that there are dyes in the game and, assuming they don’t suddenly open a cash shop and charge for black dye, your character can look as cool as you want. Does it dye the entire armor piece? No, just certain parts depending on the armor, which I couldn’t be happier about. There’s nothing worse for breaking immersion that running across GROGNAK TEH DESTRAWER in a flood fill bright pink plate outfit.

The PVP, while they did screw up by making it ten levels per bracket, was extremely fun. The battles were quick, which was nice, but still intense. There was a variation on Warhammer Online’s Murder Ball, but it was made much more fun by the quickness with which it kills the carrier, the turnover rate, and the fact that you got more points the farther you carried the ‘ball’ away from your base.

The leveling experience, from 1-20 at least, is just a blast if you like Theme Park MMOs. The questlines carry you through the zone, keeping you in appropriate levels and making sure you have a good time. Feeling bored of that? Head off the beaten path to get some more crafting materials or to look for artifacts. Better yet, go close some of those Rifts you see on the map. Tired of questing and rifting? Que up for some Warfronts. Is any of Rift truly unique other than the setting, which is still fantasy based? Nope. Is Rift one of the MMOs I am most excited to play? You bet. Sadly Beta 4 is over, and unless the never few betas are 30-40 or end game I doubt I’ll be playing more. Why? Rift only has two starting zones, and unless you have the option of going through many different zones for each level range after level twenty then I don’t want to burn myself out on the content before I start the character that really matters.

All I can say though is that if Rift wants to keep me for more than a year they better add a new starting zone in the first expansion. Heck, while they are doing that it might as well be for a third faction entirely. Maybe the death dragon faction? Who’d turn down a three way faction Warfront? Not me that’s for sure. Oh, but that has been done before, so I guess they shouldn’t worry about it.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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