Yeah, I’ve been putting this off for a while, but this is a post that needs to be written, hence the huge freaking note sitting on my noticeboard at my desk here that says “POST SOMETHING ABOUT RIFT ALREADY, JEEZ”.
So yeah. Rift. It’s a good game. Really good, in fact. I’m not going to lie, I’m nowhere near the level cap (1st character is 18 (pre-launch weekend-day) 2nd is 17ish (day 3 to nowish)) and I don’t see me getting there in much of a rush. You see, personally, Rift has a few issues that make me really not that interested to go level.
These are, in no particular order (I’ll address them in more detail after the list):
- Zones are too big, and have too big a level range (5-20 (outta 50) = too big, for such a boring zone)
- Stupid 2 side dynamic that is in every WoW clone.
- Questing feels like a huge freaking grind, and so do Rifts/PvP.
Okay, firstly, let’s address the 2nd point there. I despise the two-side mechanic, at least when it is linked to character races and is immutable. If you must have two sides, make me be able to switch sides to play with my friends on the other side. Better yet, don’t hardcode sides into the fucking game. Let me make my own friends and enemies, don’t force me to pick a side that I’ll never want to switch from.
This kinda leads into the 1st point, which is about the zones. At least through the end of the 2nd tier zones, the leveling flow is painfully linear. You know what kept me going through the 20s and 30s in WoW when I was first playing? The fact that I could move out of the zone I was leveling in, go half-way across the world, and have relevant content to level in.
Now to the 1st point proper. Take this lesson from WoW, if you take no others. The player should be able to make progress from one zone to another in a meaningful space of time/levels. In addition, each zone should be distinct enough that the player shouldn’t feel like he is spending 20% of the game in one visually dull zone.
Now, I find that depending on the questlines in the zone, it takes me anywhere from 3 hours to 6 hours to tire of a zone in WoW. Some zones have mechanics that make the whole experience a pain in the ass, but hey, at least Vashj’ir was pretty for the most part.
Interestingly, WoW has annoyed me for another reason to do with zones. In Cataclysm, you can’t really switch zones, even when you are doing Vashj & Hyjal, due to the zone-spanning quest chains. These are annoying. Please try to avoid having the entire zone be one huge fucking quest chain. You can have a few big ones in there, but let me come in and do a few quests at any point in the zone without having to work my way though ‘easy’ content.
So yeah. Rift has a HUGE freaking 5-20 zone, that saps my will to live. Or, level, at least.
Finally, the grind. This isn’t Rift’s fault, really, this is my own experiences since I last played a grindy MMO (Rag Online) and this is infinitely better than that grind wise. Questing is a pain because I don’t really have any grounding in the plot. Nothing, nada, zip.
Let me sum up what I know about my Defiant’s reasons for doing what she does.
- I came back in time to stop some kinda funky looking dude who is the boss of Death Rifts.
That is about it. Why am I helping these humans? Because I need to level up.
Why am I fighting Jacob?
Because werewolves suck Because I need to level up.
Why am I leveling up? To get out of this boring, boring zone.
Closing Rifts at least has a kinda straightforward reasoning to it. Allow me to demonstrate.
- Tears inbetween the planes is bad. Any idiot knows that.
- Dudes pop out of these and kill questgivers.
- Also I get loots.
Easy. What about PvP?
- Guardians are evil and antagonistic, and therefore must die.
- They want to take our jobs (killing the badguys that pop out of Rifts).
So yeah. ‘Final’ verdict? Rift is a good game. No, it’s a great game. But it is a huge WoW clone. Hell, it’s the only place people talk more about WoW than in WoW itself.