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    dkirschner's Rift (PC)

    [April 17, 2012 10:39:11 PM]
    Rift rolled out a free-to-play version earlier this year. You can go up to level 20 and have the usual f2p restrictions in place on mail, auction houses, trading, guilds, whispering, etc. I downloaded a few f2p MMOs recently and figured I'd give this one a whirl first since it's the one I most looked forward to. Overall, it's a solid game. There's nothing wrong with it per se, but it didn't capture my attention. It's like going out to Applebees or Chili's or one of those 'neighborhood bar and grill' restaurants. The food and service will be fine. They might have some good nachos. But you're not going to want to come back anytime soon. And all those restaurants are the same. That's Rift. It's solid, standard fare with some good nachos. What are the nachos? The nachos are the 3 or so things that make the game feel in any way different from WoW, which it wholeheartedly duplicates in every other respect.

    Soul Tree Nachos - Rift has two factions with 3 races each. Any faction/race can be one of the four classes. When I first saw this I thought "whoa, limiting!" But boy was I wrong. When you select a class, Rift brings the character customization to a level I've never seen before. I made my first character a Defiant (faction) Eth (race) mage. When you click on 'mage' it suggests four specs. It gave me 3 DPS ones and a healing one. Each spec draws on three different 'souls,' Rift's word for talent trees. One DPS spec was the traditional mage who sits back and hurls fireballs. Another was more like a DoT class, like WoW's warlock. Another was a pet/summoner spec. And the mage can heal passively by doing damage or throw on some more direct healing spells. I found out later that these are only four 'recommended' specs that the game pre-made. You actually have some insane number of souls to mix-n-match to make specs, I forget, like 6 maybe, for each class. And you can have 6 different customized specs saved at once. You can switch between SIX things. So I can make one of the other classes, say a Cleric, and have a raid healing spec, a pvp healing spec, a ranged dps spec, a melee dps spec, a tanking spec and a support spec. Good lord. This is one thing I really liked about Rift. Right as a was hitting level 20, I talked extensively to another player and was asking him things. He told me how to purchase a second spec, so I made a mage healing one and went into a dungeon as a 'support' role. There are four roles in Rift, the Holy Trinity + Support. It's just really cool that each class can do 3-4 roles.

    That said, the number of skills and abilities you get is a bit overwhelming, at least at first, until you begin to see the logic of it. By level 20, I had two FULL action bars of actual spells. But the beauty of it is that Rift labels everything for you, so I clearly had my 'single target damage' on one bar and my 'AE damage' on another bar. The two types of spells were mostly identical to each other, just that one version is single target and the other is AE. When I switched to healing, it was more or less similar. I had a damage spell bar and a healing spell bar, with buffs strewn about. The other skills are labeled too, 'utility,' 'healing,' 'self-buff...' It's straightforward and handy. It seems to me that with all this customization, Rift will have VERY specific roles for people to fill later in the game. So, you don't just need a tank, but you need a tank who can move like the win and self-heal. Ah, so we need a rogue who has points in all these different souls to allow her to do that. Neat stuff.

    PvP Nachos - Rift actually has some (to my experience at least) unique PvP maps. You can participate in two at level 10+. One is a multi-story round library, like a gladiator pit with 3 levels. The objective is to get these relics and...I'm not sure...hold them? It seemed like the longer you held them, the more points your team got. There are a few relics in play at any given time, so players are simultaneously finding and holding relics, guarding their teammates with relics, trying to kill other players and take the other team's relics. It was chaotic and fun. The other was this maze-like wooded area with the "Fang of Regulos" in the middle. The teams each try to pick up and hold the Fang, kind of like what I figured we did with the relics in the library. But the longer you hold the Fang, the more damage it does to the player holding it, so not only do you have to worry about the other team coming for it, but you're going to die, haha. I think you can pass it to teammates as a strategy. Then you get better and they start taking damage, and they can pass it back before it kills them. I played that battleground on a holiday weekend first and there were different rules. Instead of the Fang, there were these orbs scattered all over the grounds, like 20 of them in the middle. And there were orb cleansing stations, two of them, spawned on the map. The objective is to gather the orbs and bring them to the cleansing stations. Players may carry up to 3 orbs, but the more they carry, the more the orbs slow them down. But, higher reward for the higher risk. After a while, the cleansing stations deplete and two new ones spawn. It was a lot of fun. My mage did a damn good job in PvP too. And like other MMOs, there is a crazy huge amount of tokens and currencies from PvP, and from all the other in-game activities, that was really confusing to me. I supposed that would be how WoW is to an outsider too. I mean, if I don't keep up to date with the currencies in WoW, I have to get caught up as to what is what. So Rift is probably no different there.

    Rift Nachos - This is the big one, the truly unique part of the game as was marketed. Now, I feel like the Rift idea is only half unique and half ripped straight out of Warhammer Online. Warhammer Online had these world events called public quests. It was really innovative (though if you've never played Warhammer, you would think Rift came up with the idea...and if anything did it before Warhammer, I never played it and am giving Warhammer undue credit). Basically public quests were a way for people to group together, do interesting content and get nice rewards without wasting time like looking for a group or traveling to a dungeon or whatever. You simply walk up to one in the world map that is happening. You could be questing, and you walk into an area and bam! Public quest objectives pop up and you're temporarily engaged in freeing a town from looters or whatever.

    In Rift, they've taken this public quest idea and built the entire game around it. The story goes that Telara (the world) happens to lie at the intersections of all the elemental planes. Fate has dealt it an unfortunate hand because Regulos, lord of the plane of death, wants to take over Telara. Telara thus has all these rift openings, basically tears in space-time that open the way for planar beings to come into Telara. So they do. As you're running around questing, you notice various things on the zone map and oftentimes right near you. First are rift tears you see on the map. This is where a rift will open. Then you see the rifts, which look cool in-game too. They're like big void zone looking places that appear. These are dynamic world events, constantly happening whether or not players are there or do anything about them. If players don't do anything about them though, then enemies will continue pouring out of the rifts. They establish footholds in the world near the rift, where more enemies can come out. Eventually a general or some commander will come out and that general will gather forces from the rift and lead an invasion on nearby towns. So if rifts are left unchecked, then the planar beings will actually go to your little quest hub, kill all the NPCs, and set up camp. It's pretty freaking cool. The only thing is that I never saw most of this up to level 20, and that's too bad, because that's what I'd been anticipating playing Rift, these huge Rift invasions happening. From my experience, it is not as exciting as it was made out to be. You can close rifts by yourself. You don't need other players. You get all kinds of buffs and skills for dealing with rifts. They're essentially just more enemies to kill. And the killer for me is that the game realllllly wants you to spend your time running around closing rifts. You are constantly rewarded for doing so and there are a handful of daily and repeatable quests to kill x rift enemies or close this or that element of rift. You could easily spend time grinding rifts. And for what? Upgraded gear, experience, the usual. To me, the rifts seem like an even easier, routine and time-wasting way to grind the various currencies of the game. Typical methods are dungeons, raids and PvP, but the rifts are faster and like I said, the game really pushes you to spend time closing them. I watched some videos of high level players fighting off these massive rift invasions where people spend half an hour just running around a zone in a mob killing endless waves of rift creatures. It doesn't seem very organized. I wish it was more group-oriented, like is someone healing, are there tanks, etc., more structured like a raid. I guess it is neat that it's dynamic, and if it's dynamic you can't just pick and choose roles and things -- except you can because of Rifts awesome character customization. Anyway, what I watched looked like a bunch of level 50s mobbing around the zone killing NPCs that weren't in any way challenging or thought-provoking.

    Other things:

    The story is interesting, but I'm not sure how much it moves on from the beginning. I played my Defiant to level 20, and then made a Guardian to play through the intro, which is level 6-ish, to get the other faction's perspective. Basically the Defiant's blame Regulos's invasion on the Guardians and the Guardians blame it on the Defiants. The dichotomy is very Alliance-Horde. There's not much else going on. Regulos seems to have corrupted various kings and queens of zones, and your final goals are usually just to kill whichever person it is. There's really no personality to this game. It's rather dull and humorless, and the major story is explained in the first few levels and after that seemed very patterned and didn't compel me to delve further into it. Characters also are bland. I found one NPC that I thought was funny, a knight who challenged me to best him in speed (beating his squire in a race -- his squire threw bear traps at me to slow me down), strength (destroy a wooden target dummy in one blow), and something else. 99% of other characters have nothing going for them. They just stand there, dispense a sentence or two of the same story, or give you quests.

    Quests are more monotonous than most MMOs I've tried, packed full of kill x and collect x. Rift is very streamlined, so the questing feels quick and efficient, but also neverending. There's a pattern I've found. Take an area. Go kill x enemies and collect x things from the front of the area. Return quests. Pick up two more quests, one kill x and one collect x. These enemies and items are in the middle of the area. Do those, return. Collect the next pair of kill and collect quests. These are in the back of the area. Complete them, return. Now kill the little boss of the area. Every time. Very repetitive. They didn't use hardly any variation. I did one escort quest. There weren't any silly ones besides that knight. There were no vehicles or vehicle quests. They really should have capitalized on the genre's improvements in questing. So there's this weird contrast then between the game world feeling dead and alive. The rifts make things feel alive, the NPCs and quests make it feel dead. There's not much in the way of music, the visuals I find rather realistically bland, not much story, humorless NPCs, no events going on besides rift events. Everything revolves around the rifts.

    One of my big expectations was to see the major city in the first zone, which is the Defiant capital. It was reallllly lackluster compared to cities in WoW and LotRO and some other games. It wasn't big, there was nothing happening, the same I said before, just a bunch of NPCs standing around ready to be practical. All the trainers are in one spot, all the pvp is in one spot, all the vendors are in one spot. Yes, it's very condensed and practical with no flare or activity.

    I also wanted to check out dungeons. At some point, maybe around level 15 or so, I was eligible for my first one, so I queued as DPS. I waited for about two hours before the queue popped, which is waaaay too long! I expected 30 minutes or so, and ended up staying awake like 2 hours past when I wanted to go to bed because I knew it would pop up soon. The dungeon was fun enough, pretty easy to figure out what's going on. The players' roles were obvious, there was loot and need-or-greed and bosses and trash and pulls and marking and all the rest. It's funny talking about the practicality of Rift. They've replaced the more fantasy-ish marking in raids and dungeons with simple numbers. 1,2,3. I like the skull, purple diamond, green triangle, etc. of WoW, but I must admit, the straightforward numbers are nice. Dungeons went exactly the same as a dungeon in WoW. In fact, most of the game besides the 'nachos' that I talked about goes exactly the same as WoW. These things are basically genre conventions by now. Quest tracking, gathering/crafting professions, equipping, the map, dying, various currencies, action bars, health/mana/energy/special bars, blah blah blah blah...all virtually the same now in every MMO. Pretty interesting because I remember when MMOs had practically none of things things, or some in quite different forms than are prevalent today. Anyway, I queued as a support once I bought a healing spec for another dungeon, and got in after like an hour, to be promptly disconnected after 10 minutes of playing. That was fun too. I rather like the feel of fighting. It's not as heavy and grounded as WoW is or as responsive and quick as Warhammer was, but it's not bad. It's not super floaty like, what was it that was so bad about that, Age of Conan I think.

    Players have all been very nice and helpful. I befriended a guy here in Singapore last night who wanted to use a refer-a-friend on me if I paid. I'm not paying or playing anymore, but I took the chance to talk to him for a long time about the game. He explained all kinds of stuff to me, most useful being how to purchase a second spec, which I did.

    But, in the end, I've hit the level cap for the f2p and that's that. Saw what Rift has to offer to lower levels (actually almost halfway through to 50). Some neat stuff, some stuff with potential, but mostly very safe and solid MMO. I very very very much was excited to, once I hit 20, go and run through the other zones to see what they looked like, but much to my chagrin, you can't leave the starting zone. There's an invisible wall blocking your way out. I feel that is incredibly lame. In LotRO's free version, you can go explore, but you just can't pick up quests. I want to explore, dammit! I'm opening a Rift into another game and out of this one.
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    dkirschner's Rift (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 13 April, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 17 April, 2012

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Very WoW-like, but with some enormous skill trees, and with...rifts.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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