Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Review of Rift, a New MMORPG from Trion Worlds [Guest Post]

Rift, previously known as Rift: Planes of Telara, was released earlier this month to no small amount of anticipation from the MMORPG community. The developer, Trion Worlds, is a new  name in the MMO community, but apparently has quite a large number of prestigious talents at their disposal, and it shows in the slick presentation of their first game.

For those of us that have been playing MMOs for awhile, we all know it’s inevitable that you’re going to see a lot of people comparing any new game to the big dog, World of Warcraft. In my experience, Rift is no different in this respect, and for good reason. WoW has dominated the market for about 7 years now, and its take on the MMO genre has affected both games that came out before it and every one since. There is always some buzz in the community over which game will be the “WoW Killer”, and in my opinion, while Rift IS good, it’s not going to dethrone the king.

Why do I say this? Because at its heart, Rift just remains too close to the WoW style of game play. What WoW managed to do upon its release was take all the bad things (well, maybe not all of them) about the existing MMOs and change them to make it more fun and accessible. It singlehandedly turned a niche market where 100,000 player base subscription was considered successful, into a mainstream phenomenon. As of this writing they have upwards of 10 million active subscriptions, just orders of magnitude greater than much of the competition.

What Trion Worlds is trying to do is much less revolutionary, they are trying to walk that fine line between innovations and sticking with what works. For example, a perceived weakness in WoW is the lack of character customization. In WoW, each class has three builds, but there is little variance amongst toons of the same build. Rift addresses this issue by offering a large amount of character customization through character customization. Each character has three separate trees you can put points into, and you can choose to have up to 4 different sets of these three. I found it to be a pretty cool system, but as the game gains a player base, standard builds will emerge that are heavily used by most players. Still, it is nice to have the option to tailor your character’s abilities to your own tastes.

The second most differentiable point is the inclusion of “rifts” into the game play. These rifts offer players the chance to join public raids to defeat the legions of monsters pouring out of the rift, fight a boss, and close the “rift”. If you’ve played Warhammer Online, it’s similar to their public quest system. It’s an interesting system, and useful for introducing noobs to raid-like content. I say raid-like because, at least in my one week’s experience, the bosses issuing forth from these tears in the space-time continuum lack the mechanics that necessitate coordination amongst the raid. Everybody just runs in, swords a swinging and spells a slingin’ till the beast goes down. I was not impressed.

Rift does have a beautifully rendered world, and the game play is tight. The cities and crafting system are a bit generic and lacking, but they are in working order. Overall, I would recommend it to those looking for a change of pace from WoW, just don’t expect a huge deviation in game play, or for it to be the WoW Killer.

Author Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student getting an online associates degree remotely from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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Thank you for the great guest post, Maria!  I appreciate it!

So, everyone, what do you think?  Tried Rift?  Love it or hate it?

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