Friday, December 24, 2010

RIFT: Impressions

Well, the NDA has been lifted, so my Bro says. So, here are my thoughts on RIFT following two Beta events over the last few weekends.

The first issue I came across was when downloading the patcher. It really didn’t take long to load up but when I ran the patcher for the first time I kept getting an error message that I have the wrong Direct X. I don’t. Took me a while to sort that. basically in the end I ended up adding DirectX to the second hard drive that RIFT was on. The update wasn’t too bad. Only took about three hours at 8meg connection.

I delved straight in to character selection and found it quite a useful system. I wish there has been a few more face / hair / beard choices and I was disappointed that I couldn’t change my size, only my height. Aside from that a fairly painless process. The graphics were looking ok to me at this point too.

I logged in to the game for the first time, choosing a PvE server, as this is my preferred playstyle. My very first initial impression was that the starting area for the Defiant faction reminded me of the starting area of Baldur’s Gate 2. You know, the bit where you are released from jail (or do you escape?). Anyhow, that’s the area I am talking about. So, within about two minutes I had realised that I was going to have my hand held a lot throughout the platy session and I really didn’t find anything a challenge as I was led gracefully through the initial plot at the starter area. I did definitely notice that for a Beta, this was incredibly stable especially considering the amount of folks in the area. I had the graphics set to just below top and I experienced only one ‘less than a second’ delay in the whole play session.

I kind of liked the idea that the starting area was set in the future and once completed you were sent back to Telara to help stop the horrors of ‘today’ from occurring. You do get some more hinters from some of the NPCs concerning the history and the lore, but to be honest not too much. It was kind of wishy washy the info you were getting. I’m hoping as the levels open up the story will become more involved. Not a massive grabber from the start though.

The UI wasn’t too bad really. I got along with it ok. Especially after I got to grips with adjusting it. Not that this is an issue that is too much of a problem as modders will surely develop their own takes on the UI at some point and there will be a wealth of them to choose from.

I liked the game play. In both Beta sessions. It most definitely is NOT a third generation MMO though, so do not be fooled by the hype. It’s just a normal, run of the mill fantasy MMO, nothing massively innovative, yet interesting enough to kill some time on. I didn’t get enough time (because of Real Life things) to spend on the Betas for my liking though. I only reached level 10 although that is probably down to my lust for exploring and not adventuring as much as anything I guess. I think possibly the only thing about the gameplay I didn’t like was the global cool downs. It really was quite rubbish. Having said that I did notice that the more efficient I got at building skill combos, I started to notice some cooldowns were changing, meaning I could use a good combo and at the end one skill was not in ‘cool down’ and was able to start the next combo seamlessly with that. I’m sure it’s one of those things you will get used to, but at the moment it’s not hitting the spot for me. I’d prefer to see independent cool downs.

The scenery and world look pretty good. I’m not actually sure it is Lotro good, but I definitely had a lot of fun exploring and there are some wonderful little touches if you look for them. I recall having to take a rushed impromptu AFK at one point. Think I was in Silverwood. There were mobs everywhere and I had no place to hide. A quick scan of the area and I saw a hollowed out fallen tree. Made a great bolt hole for a few minutes. How a game looks is one of the main attractions for me as I really need that believable interaction to gel with an MMO properly. I’ve mentioned before it’s why I avoid ‘cartoony’ MMOs. Secondly I like to see that I can interact with the environment properly to assist with that immersion. With Rift, I certainly found the locations attractive and technically decent enough, but interacting with the scenery was not up to standard. The first test of being able to sit in a chair failed miserably. I managed to /laydown on a bench for a rest, but it wasn’t the same.

The character progression using the ‘soultree’ method seemed to work ok I guess. Nothing major to write home about and at the low levels I played a lot of the trees skills were difficult to see the benefit of. They all just seemed a little weak. However, I was thinking to EQ2 and the Alternative Advancements. I have already mentioned somewhere in me blog that I think the soultrees will end up a bit like AAs. Lot’s of choice, but everyone goes for the best setup. I’m sure there will be a best setup for things like tanking, melee dps, ranged dps, heals over time etc etc. But the slowness of the start in the soultrees made me think of low level EQ2 AAs. I mean they can be pretty crap until you get enough points to get to the juicy stuff later on. Maybe the soultrees will be the same?

My overall impression is of a stable current generation fantasy MMO which brings some new stuff, but nothing completely innovative, with a couple of major hiccups that could ruin it for many (GCD). I actually mentioned this to someone else and they were like “What? What about Rifts and Invasions?”. Yeah, they are cool (I had a load of fun with a couple of invasions I must admit), but looking at the basics of what they are, they are simply fancy ring events used in a fair few MMOs. Yes, it’s cool anyone nearby can join in, but not really a groundbreaking idea, even if they are a lot of fun.

Will I be subbing to RIFT? It’s a maybe at the moment. I really don’t know for sure. I see potential there and cannot help but think of EQ2 when it was first released. It really wasn’t all that. EQ2 as a game has developed and changed massively from when it was released to the great MMO it is today. With time one must remember that maturity comes and a game finds it’s ‘path’. Sometimes it works, sometimes it nearly works but doesn’t get the interest and sometimes it fails miserably. I think Rift has promise as long it continues to develop and listen to the playerbase. GCDs need to go, or need to be adapted so they are not so ‘G’. Soultrees need to be a little more interesting at lower levels and gain the ability to be truly beneficial in choosing your own play type tree instead of what I predict will happen, which is for everyone to stick to the same setup depending on role. So, yeah. It’s a maybe at the moment. I’m sitting on the fence and not forgetting about baby EQ2 and how it grew to be a big bouncing healthy baby. We’ll see, time will tell.

Finally, a quick but sincere HAPPY CHRISTMAS! To those who follow it and to those who don’t, enjoy your weekend. Now, where are me Mince Pies? Seasons Greetings all. In addition a very special Happy Chrimbo to my online friends. I really wish I could have the pleasure of your company in person this holiday season, but as it stands I'll raise a glass to ye. Salut!

Be well.


  1. Wishing you & the Family a Blessed Holiday & many happy moments of Love & Bliss. Try not to eat too many mince pies & Salut!~

  2. Happy Christmas mate! Seems your Rift impressions echo mine pretty much :)