So yesterday my brother, during his usual ridiculously-early morning visit, informed me that Rift had jumped on WoW’s trial bandwagon and decided to allow play up til level 20, and I, having heard Good Things about it via Penny-Arcade and other sources, decided to give it a shot. Now, I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t “do” MMORPGs. I can’t remain interested in them for an extended period of time. Eventually I percieve the underlying mechanics and the grind wears on me, and I stop playing shortly thereafter. I think the longest time I played an MMO (aside from a sporadic flirtation with Runescape about 7 or more years ago now, when I’d use it to keep my mind off of the things that stressed me to the point of not being able to attend school) would be FlyFF, a free to play MMORPG with the “selling point” of being able to fly from level 15 onwards, with the appropriate gear, of course. This was mostly down to having a really pretty art style, the flying actually being fairly fun, and because I got some of my friends into it to play with me. Ironically that was also what got me out of it, as I realised that my level 30 build was too well-rounded, and therefore failed to excel in any one role, which as you may or may not know, is sorta suicide as far as long-term MMO plans go. Embarrassed by my screwup and not wanting to hold everyone back by rerolling and starting at level 1, I began to play less and less. I do have some good memories of it though. Oddly iconic moments like our little party all meeting up on a floating island, on the outskirts of the main city, to discuss what to do. Moments like that are actually what made me want to design an MMORPG around that time. But anyway, enough about FlyFF.
Rift, through the 12 levels I’ve played through so far, is a fairly solid MMORPG with a fairly strong narrative arc. I joined a PvE server because I dislike having to deal with griefers and douchebaggy sorts, and the first few levels are spent in a setup situation, a marriage of tutorial and backstory setup. The factions in conflict are effectively the ones chosen by the Gods to save the world from the big bads, and the rebels using the technologies that caused the calamity against them. The skills are fairly varied and neat to use, though the UI can become a bit cumbersome at times since swapping hotkey sets and fighting doesn’t work terribly smoothly, and I’ve wasted a few attacks more than once when I’ve thought I was in the right set but wasn’t. The art is fairly plain in honesty, the one exception to this being the titular Rifts, giant tears that can happen at any time and in any place during gameplay, and acting as a sort of spontaneous open instance as players work together to complete objectives, ultimately resulting in the rift closing and everyone getting some uncommon loot. The few times I’ve came across these I’ve had a lot of fun with them, even if I wasn’t sure how much I was really helping compared to everyone else.
Quite a few of the quests ARE of the “kill x monster y times” or “gather this loot from x monster” variety, but there are also things such as turning students into sheep for a student’s project, or collecting books, and there’s a variety of side-tasks such as finding little items around the map to collect, gaining a bonus when you complete a set, which exist throughout the game and you have no requirement to do, it’s just A Thing, and seeing as I hadn’t unlocked every menu doo-dah by this point I probably haven’t seen the full depth of tasks available.
As for the requisite crafting system, you can train in up to three (out of an available… nine? I think?) professions, some of which are “gatherer” professions such as mining or foraging, and some of which actually make things, like Weaponsmithing or Artificing. This situation, of having the “making” and “gathering” skills split and finite, means that you can either be incredibly specialized with several gathering professions to support one type of thing you can make, or rely on trading with other players to gain the missing items you need. Since I’ve not asked anyone else to take the 10GB plunge (for that is how big the update was over the course of two hours) I don’t know how well that works out, as my server was also rather low on people, which is my fault and I could move to a more populated server if need be.
All in all, and to draw this blogpost to a close, I’d say Rift is a pretty solid game which, if you have the time and the hard drive space, is probably worth checking out. Then again, you could also donate that time and space to downloading the WoW level 20 trial. Or more accurately, twice that space. Possibly more. I’m pretty sure they’re hiding the uncompressed human genome in their update files.