Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Finally Got Rift

There I was yesterday. First time pushing the Rift DVD in my drive and anxiously awaiting the world champion of WoW clones to enthuse me. Having so much experience with MMORPGs, my take on such a thing is, of course, tainted. I tend to look at the whole thing like a game designer, which is good in one way and bad if you want to immerse yourself in the world.

You see, I keep pointing out how important the attitude of a player is when one starts a game and here I am, allowing myself such an attitude when starting Rift. Ironic.
So .. did I like it? Yes and no.

Rift passed the first tests.
1) Mouse moves as exspected
2) Controls are 100% responsive, too
3) Character creation. Woah! Nice!
4) Good fps, nice graphics
5) Tooltips everywhere
6) Everything looks fluid and polished

Honestly, if I ever make an MMO in my life, I'd be happy if I could say these things at launch! But they aren't everything. Here 's what I didn't like:

The tutorial is too text-heavy in my opinion. I, also, was overwhelmed by the number of buttons in the UI! Why do you think WoW doesn't show you your talent trees until level 10? Exactly. If a WoW veteran, like me, is feeling overwhelmed when starting Rift, how do you think somebody who never played a computer game, let alone a MMORPG or WoW feels? I just don't feel comfortable. Many games, especially single player games, do this much better.

There is no need to show me several complex talent trees at the very start! Am I supposed to spend the next few hours pondering what the best way to skill is? I want to grow and learn with the game. Here's a great article about that and Angry Birds.

Also, you see from the start that Rift wants you to get a quest, move, kill, click, complete the quest. I can't say that I look forward to this kind of gameplay. I did that for the last 6 years, damnit!

What could possibly spice that up enough to do it a 7th year? Story? Yeah - but the first hour didn't present an engaging story. I was created in some kind of production facility. I felt like a mass-produced thing. At the same time the story would always only talk about me - while, obviously, many other like me were created.

And finally I didn't like the combat animations. I just wasn't casting a big fireball. I am all for scaled-down graphic effects. But some of my spell effects were only visible if I made an effort to see them. Strange.

What else could spice it up? Something different form World of Warcraft .. rifts? Mmh .. problem is I never saw a rift. I stopped playing after the 5th quest. I just did Alt-F4 and spent the rest of the evening playing Minecraft.

I'll probably have another look this weekend. I'm not saying Rift is bad. If it actually has a reasonable endgame they will keep quite some subscribers. It's just that running quests for a non-engaging story line? That was fun 6 years ago. Just like simply being pushed into a graphical virtual world with little game was fun 15 years ago. Nowadays it's just not enough.

In a few months we know more.


  1. Rift doesn't become captivating until you actually leave the starter quest area. Don't judge a game before the real meat of it begins. Once you are out in Silverwood or Freemarch, you will run into the heart of what makes Rift a different game than WoW.

    The player tutorial could use an overhaul, because I think retention beyond level 5 might be an issue.

  2. If the game does not motivate me to actually leave the starter area or already bores me to death there, what's the point? I want some meat now, not when I leave the starter area. True I can't cast the spell of ultimate destruction now, but hey at least entertain me.

  3. My experience with RIFT was largely the same. I don't think I lasted more than about 5min, close enough like WoW to be boring, and not different enough to be fun.

  4. I liked it. Hot angels brought me back to kill bad things of some sort. It reminded me of the DK starter zone, but inverted. Radically different? No. But a decent bit of fun.

  5. What attracted me to rift is soul system . I am complete junkie for template building. In beta I got hooked and decided that free month would be worth to spend just on that aspect

    Other factor is that leveling is very fast ( I already have lvl 47 and that combined with the fact that queues on my server prevented me from playing first week)

    So all in all easy game with no obligations .I dont see it last long , but as 3 month-er imho its worth it.

  6. You've given WoW 6 years and you aren't even willing to get out of the starter zone in Rift to review it?

    I'm definitely bored with WoW, and I would really like your honest opinion of Rift after a bit more of an effort.

    I just played the starter Worgen area in WoW and found it really uninspired.

    I turned into a Werewolf. Where's the creepiness? Where's the angst and struggle of losing control of your body?

  7. You've given WoW 6 years and you aren't even willing to get out of the starter zone in Rift to review it?

    I've said I'm going to play it next weekend, didn't I ? :)

  8. There is an inherent tension between your two complaints.

    On the one hand, you complain that the UI throws too much at you to soon, and that a new player would have trouble dealing with it.

    But on the other hand, you complain that the game doesn't throw enough new gameplay types at the player early enough.

    New players need to be hand-held through the mechanics of basic questing, even if it is old hat to us. The new Rift gameplay type is introduced at level 5 or 6.

    I'm not completely disagreeing with you. I kind of had the same complaints. But it is worth acknowledging that they are in tension with each other.

  9. You are right, Rohan. I acknowledge this 'tension'.

    In my opinion, Rift should have had a more careful tutorial were the UI and the character progression system is introduced. Maybe a more dramatic initial story than "You have awoken, do whatever you want now" would also have been good for a game like Rift.

    After that, of course, I like complexity.

  10. Starter area is the most boring part of leveling in Rift. It offers only questing which is steamrolled and spoon-fed like in WOW.
    Rifts and global invasions make this game fresh and interesting. But you won't encounter them in starter area.

    What I like most in leveling game is that Rift actually encourages exploration. They added rare mobs with and artifact nodes in areas where quest won't send you. Climbing on mountains between zones grants achievement and descent one-time reward. There are puzzles players are supposed to find.

  11. Yeah, I've been banging on bad guys for some time now and still have not left the starter area. BORING. If this doesn't get better soon, I'm back to boring old WOW.