I’ve been playing Rift since this past summer and now that the NDA on the beta is down I would like to share my thoughts on the game. I’m not going to give you an all-encompassing in depth look into the game because you can find that stuff on your favorite fansites from people they pay to take screenshots. Take the following as a real opinion from someone who has played the game a lot more than most and who has been around the MMO block.
Let’s start with some general impressions of beta.
Rift is an all-around good game. That’s something that needs to be said up front since I will be delivering a few harsh truths to you as you read on. Look at what has released over the past five plus years and you won’t find much better. It’s polished up quite a bit and continues to improve with each patch that I have been through — and that’s a lot of patches.
My biggest issue with Rift is that it isn’t terribly unique or even new. It really is, at its core, the same game that you’ve been playing for the past six years. The questing, events, PvP, and even the class system are all very familiar because they have been done before.
This may be a rude awakening, but Rift is a themepark that acts and plays like a themepark game. The world is much more open than Aion, but not any more than WoW. In WoW you’ll have several options for leveling up and several starting areas, but in Rift you have just one for everyone and you move through content 100% linearly from quest hub to quest hub. Thankfully the world isn’t truncated like WAR’s.
I would be happy to answer any of your specific questions about the game or certain mechanics. Let me try and address a few of the big ones.
The Class System – It’s the single best feature in Rift. However, if you’re not new to these games you’ll easily pick up on the fact that 1) It’s not “Be anything you want” or 2) Even a TRUE multiclassing system. It’s a system that allows you to pick a main archetype like a Mage and then choose classes that specialize in things a mage-type might do. Granted, some of them are extremely diverse and will offer you the ability to heal as a mage or damage as a mage, but it’s still less like multi-classing and more like having some extremely diverse talent specs.
That’s the crux of the class system: It’s a talent spec system like WoW. Once people realized this from the beta events and complained, Trion decided to try and alleviate the realization and its negative impact by saying “We’ve looked at it and decided not to constrict you within yada yada and give you more points.” Whether or not you think it’s a good idea (I think it’s a bad one because there is less specialization) or a good thing, it’s still points into talent trees. The classes literally look like talent trees in WoW that have been named different and broken apart and named into classes.
I like my Bard/Ranger combo and my Necromancer in beta. My Bard can shoot a bow at range, have a pet in the fray, buff a group considerably, and do decent heals. You don’t get that a lot in most games. Is balance great? No, but it’s getting there.
Questing – It’s not very good. “It’s the same questing that you see in Lotro, WoW and other games like that, Keen!” It’s very similar to those, yes. However, it’s nowhere near WoW’s Cataclysm quality questing and no, I’m not even referring to the zany quests for the goblins. It’s boring and repetitive in Rift. The questing is generic and bland. The world around you feels more like a shell when you’re out questing instead of feeling like you’re interacting with it.
I find myself getting burned out very quickly doing quests. There’s a lack of soul, pun not intended, in them as you go through the motions.
Dungeons – I like them. They’re sorta tough and involved at lower levels. For example, we went into the beta dungeon and spent well over an hour working our way through. The final boss had a movement mechanic to protect you from this massive aoe he does. I think that some of them would have made for great open-world dungeons, but they’re all instanced.
Rifts - They’re only “meh”. I know, that might shock some of you given the game is called “Rift”. They’re exactly like public quests in that you work through stages and get rewarded based upon your participation. Imagine if PQ’s from WAR could move around and appear randomly and then grow larger if no one did them and take over a zone — that’s a Rift. Later on the rifts become less important to you as you get gear from dungeons. You can use currency that drops from them to buy items or socket gear, which helps, but it’s not an end-game mechanic or one that will last long. People will get bored and so far I haven’t found any reason for Rifts to remain in the forefront of peoples minds.
PvP – What PvP? There are scenarios and some open-world stuff (not in Beta), but if you were to ask me if this game is a PvP game then I would have to answer no. Imagine WoW’s world in vanilla where people want to fight each other and you have Rift. The variety of classes makes for some possible spicy PvP encounters (love those guys with lots of CC in beta). There are talks of sieges and what not, but I have yet to experience them. You’ll have to ask someone who has — if you can find them. Right now it’s more of a PvE game, and I’m okay with that.
Current Verdict: If you like WoW, you have absolutely no reason to play Rift. If you’re looking for a real PvP game or one with an open world even remotely like a sandbox then you have no reason to play Rift. If you’re wanting something different then definitely do not play Rift. If you want a good game (that isn’t WoW) that is more of the same then Rift does a great job of delivering probably the best available. It’s better than Aion, WAR, anything from Cryptic, has a lot more that I like than LotRO, and some potential if the PvP is more fully developed.
Again, if you have questions please ask.