I Need My Fix
It’s been only a few days since I was last on Rift: Beta, and the withdrawal symptoms are starting to become severe . For a hardened MMO and RPG veteran who had grown disillusioned with them all, that’s saying something.
The playing of Rift over the Beta 6 weekend was marred partly by guilt over the robotics coursework I was supposed to be doing. The professor who teaches the course (one of the top researchers in an area called ‘nonlinear robust control’) took some everyday material on control theory and turned it into some ridiculously difficult bitches that he calls a ‘problem set’. I never imagined the analysis of (mere) linear time-invariant systems could get this messy.
Anyway, after high-fiving myself mentally for having finished the coursework 15 mins before the deadline, I returned to my rig and found myself clicking the Rift icon. The dialog box popped up and I hurriedly typed in my password. Alas, to no avail…
Of course I knew beta had ended. But I just had to try…
And that was how I ended up outside Kansas, Telara and Azeroth with a craving for my Rift fix.
But all is not lost, for beta starts again in 5 days, and I do have my videos.
Here is my two part review of the game over the last beta, with a lot more footage that will be turned into more movies in short order.
There will always be comparisons to WoW with every MMO that comes out, so let me point out the reasons why Rift is not WoW.
For the first time, I actually love an MMO’s artstyle more than I liked WoW’s style. Sure WoW graphics are dated but it has a certain charm that is undeniable. Of the recent MMOs, I’d say AoC had some of the best graphics but I didn’t not quite like the style as much as WoW’s. Aion has way too much of that fluffy jap manga crap going for it. Sorry, manga-anime fanbois, but I just can’t stand that stuff. Sure I watched some Voltron and Robotech as a kid, but the bright pastel colours and exaggerated eyes are just not my thing. Warhammer was decent but eventually it started to feel like everything was made of cardboard.
Not Rift, though. Rift managed to capture the magic for an old hand who has all but lost any recollection of that first-MMO magical feel. On the topic of graphics, I wouldn’t mind a return to the Ultimate Online graphical style with an isometric viewpoint. Still, there’s something special to being able to get up close in a game like with Rift. Seeing screenshots and videos of the game I never realised how much more immersive it is to actually run the game and experience these things first hand in-game.
Then there is the dynamic world! This can’t be stressed enough. To see what I am talking about wait for my next video where I get chased by marauders while travelling along a road. WoW has NOTHING that comes remotely close to this. These events can give you this incredible feeling of a living world.
Rift features outdoor raids and also dynamic raid events where new bosses appear to threaten the game world and need to be taken down a peg or two, lest they destroy towns and villages.
To add even more complexity to the mix Rift will now allow one faction to destroy quest hubs and towns belonging to another faction! Oh, it’s on!!!
Quests. The old traditional quests. That’s just bad game design. It’s convenient. It’s grindy. Yes. But nobody reads those things anymore. After striving to follow the story for the first few levels I ended up just clicking accept and going around the map to do the quests. Thankfully, the map shows hotspots allowing me to complete quests without really reading. I really want to see quests innovated out in Rift, and maybe it can still happen. At least a significant redesign would be great.
Having said that, there were some quests, especially in Quicksilver College, that I did enjoy immensely.
Here is a game that I was expecting not to play, and now after trying beta I hate to think I won’t be able to really sit down to play it until the summer.