Home > Rift: Planes of Telara > RIFT ~ The Pre-review Review…

RIFT ~ The Pre-review Review…

January 26, 2011

Auspicious Beginnings

So, as I’d hoped, RIFT was installed, patched and ready to go by the time I made it home last night.  Imagine my surprise to find that the process had continued and completed, apparently without any problems, after I’d set it on autopilot before leaving for work yesterday morning.  I’d call that a good omen for any game still in Beta, but especially so for one so close to release.  As usual however, I couldn’t get much done before dinner.  During the little time I did have though, I managed to get through the little intro movie (Guardian) and create Mojeaux the HighElf Rogue.  I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the Character Creation process, but I got the impression that it was a really robust system with the capability to create some really unique looking characters.

 

Meet Mojeaux's latest Incarnation

The Introduction to the Game… seems rather familiar

So once you fire up the game, you’re hit with the obligatory intro movie or two.  I found both the game’s initial intro movie and the Guardian intro movie a little on the weird side but well done and enjoyable, nonetheless.  I say weird because to me, they sort of came off as a mix between an old World War II newsreel short and the faux news reports in Starship Troopers.  And is it only me, or did anyone else think that maybe the whole origin story smelled a little bit too much like AION’s origin storyline?  I mean, come on.  The Gods do battle, the world suffers/is wracked by a cataclysm (no relation to the other), the populace is split into two opposing factions, you die, you ascend and then you’re reborn as an avenging angel of some sort (minus the wings), presumably to further your particular factions goals.  Sounds a lot like AION to me…

 

The Messenger looks Suspiciously like one of Aion's Daevas

Graphics, Sounds and Environment

Once in the actual game, I found the graphics to be above average – the world itself is strikingly beautiful and well rendered.  Game performance wasn’t too shabby either.  I cranked the resolution up to the maximum that my monitor could handle (1920×1200?) and I was still clocking around 27-28 fps in the starter zone.  Not bad considering I’m sporting an older Nvidia 9800GTX series video card with 512mb of VRam.  The character movements/animations were rather smooth in my opinion, and while I didn’t find the combat particularly inspiring, I didn’t have the problem that several fellow bloggers had with it.  I normally don’t play with sound on, preferring to listen to music instead, so I can’t confirm nor deny that the combat sounds are rather lacking in quality.  Like I said, no big worry if they are crappy, as – for those who care – it’s something that can be easily fixed in a future patch and for those of you like me who don’t care, it’s obviously a non-factor.

Ardenburgh Gate

The Soul System… Multiple Personality Disorder Syndrome on Steroids?

Once you get your first quest from the Messenger of the Vigil and complete it, you’ll find yourself choosing your first of three Souls.  Now we get to what I think is RIFT’s biggest strength, hook or whatever you want to call it.  The Soul System.  At first, I have to admit to being a little concerned about the whole Soul swapping thing.  It seemed rather complicated and cumbersome to me when I first read about it.  Now, having looked at it a little bit (a very little bit) I think I like it.  It certainly has the potential to be the platform for what could possibly end up being the most detailed and diverse character development engine ever seen in an MMO.  As I see it, The Soul System basically lets you have three entirely different character builds active on one toon at the same time.  When asked to choose, you’re presented with a list of the available Souls which you can mouse over for a short overview/description of, as well as the game’s recommendations for the two complimentary souls to go along with that particular choice.  Now I’m not sure if you can/should deviate from the game’s recommendations and still have a viable character.  I’ve read both sides of the debate on the forums and I’m still no closer to an answer than I was when I first started.

The Inevitable WoW Comparison

Ok, it’s not WoW.  There, I said it.  However, there are enough similarities there to fuel the ever raging fires and never ending back and forth that always takes place when a new MMO hits the market.  In some ways I think the comparisons are unfair since just about any fantasy MMO coming out will by necessity have to have some core similarities with every other fantasy MMO out there, not just WoW.  That being said, since WoW is the undisputed king in the MMO world, here are a few of the things that really stood out for me as too WoW’errific:

  1. The Mini-map.
    As you can see from some of the screen shots, the mini-map acts very much like the WoW one in the sense that it clearly shows quest givers and objectives.  For me, that’s too much hand holding, thank you very much.  My problem with it is that it sort of puts you on rails and guides you along a pretty narrow path.  In older (EQ) MMO’s you didn’t have this luxury and therefore ended up exploring and engaging a lot more of the content simply because you were trying to find someone or something in order to complete the next step in your quest.
  2. Rapid Level Advancement.
    I find that for my tastes, it’s a little bit too fast.  A little more grind, por favor!  No, really.  I’m just hoping that the speed at which one levels has been somewhat accelerated for the Beta events and will be slowed down to a more reasonable pace before launch.
  3. No Real Consequence for Death.
    Self-explanatory.  Hell, even the process for getting back into the action is almost an exact duplicate of WoW’s version.

Parting Thoughts

While I haven’t really gotten more than 1.5 to 2 hours of play time in, I think I can already safely say that if you’ve ever played any major MMO, you won’t have any trouble figuring RIFT out since it pretty much plays like every other MMO out there.  No surprise there, I think.  It’s an MMO after all.  If you’re looking for something totally new and innovative and will be absolutely crushed if you find out it’s not, then do yourself a favor and keep looking, because you’re not going to find it in RIFT.  Hell, even their Soul System is pretty much just the WoW talent tree x 3.  If you’re ok with all that though, then by all means give it a try, it seems like a worthy, if not groundbreaking, contemporary of the most popular MMO’s out there right now and I dare say, an above average candidate with which to while away the time between now and SW:TOR.

 

~ Mojeaux

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