Rift: MMO’s Greatest Hits Album

I participated in Rift’s 6th beta event over the past few days and had a generally good time. Now that I know the rift mechanic, it’s not new and shiny but it is still entertaining. I wonder what the rewards will be for the zone-wide invasions that happen every 2 hours or so (turned off right now) and how those will scale, but otherwise Rift is your standard MMORPG. A LoTRO guildmate asked last week for a reason to play it over LoTRO, and I was honestly at a loss besides “it’s new, and the rifts are fun”. The best way to quickly summarize Rift is as it’s kind of an MMORPG Greatest Hits Album, like the ones that collect the good songs of the year or decade. That may come off as overly negative, but I don’t intent it that way – it pulls off the collection of what works in other games in a cohesive, fun, total, and then adds the rift element on top. Giving a new bit of flavor to something that’s well-known and comfortable might be just the thing to snag in those players who are simply feeling their game has gone stale.

Anyway, in addition to these Deep Thoughts, I also played the Defiant side this time, and played a Mage and Rogue. I also played with two other tradeskills, the PvP zone Black Garden, and, thanks to my gaming family, got to see the guild functions a bit. Breaking that down after the cut.

Now that I’ve played both sides, I have a much better feel for the lore of the game. I do enjoy a good story, and while Rift’s story is again a standard model from the sci-fi genre, it’s a good read. Here’s me distilling it as much as possible. *clears throat*

In the past, the gods created this planet from a special material, at a place where it is in conjunction with elemental planes. This place would be, as they usually are, an idyllic world. And, as per standard plot, the bad people came, here called the Blood Storm. The gods raised various heroes who fell in battle against them and together with the gods they erected a magical barrier to keep them out. These raised people are then tossed forward in time by the gods to become the Guardians.

Fast forward to the end of the planet and you find the Defiant. They are standing on the last patch of the world that exists. The player is the end result of an experiment to create a godlike being. They then send you back in time to prevent the disaster that happened when one of the Guardians decided to join the big bad.

Thus the Guardians are religious zealots and the Defiant are apocalyptic machinists. A typical faith vs. reason, or religion vs. technology, type of story. On the whole though, the Defiant’s lore, flavor text, and general outlook feels better written. I’m guessing that the Guardians were made first, development-wise, as many junk world drops reference NPCs on the Guardian side, with the extreme example being the rewards of the first dungeon on each side are exactly the same, including the names. Getting a nature-themed staff from the Defiant’s tomb dungeon is a bit…odd. I did feedback this as they probably forgot to change the graphic and name when copying it over.

After having such a good time on the Cleric, I had high hopes for the Mage as the explody classes are frequently fun to play. I do typically avoid the big blast classes in games athough as they almost always become overpopulated for this same reason. I didn’t see as many mages as I expected to, but there were a good amount. I did find the game play lackluster though, and the souls to be not as fun as the Cleric. My normal game grind class included a pet, an assortment of damage over time spells, direct damage, a channeled self-heal, and a few crowd control options, which did cover most situations, but where my Cleric could easily handle multiple adds even unexpectedly, and solo elite level mobs, the Mage struggled on multiples, and only one of the pet class options had a pet that was worth keeping long term. The Rogue I found to be extremely heavy damage, and is definitely the DPS class of Rift. I purposely made a “glass cannon” spec’ed one and found it quite fun. While this meant I relied on potions to keep my health up, I tended to be able to destroy most mobs even two levels above me. I plan to play this one a bit more in the next beta to see how it feels later in levels. So far I have a mage and cleric to almost 30 so I want to see how this one feels up there.

This time around I experimented with the Runecrafting and Outfitter professions. The outfitter is a standard tailor type, with the ability to make cloth and leather armor, as well as bags. I was easily able to tailor gear far better than any quest reward, which did make me wonder why I was struggling on the mage so much when my gear was top of the line. The Runecrafting profession breaks down magical items, similar to WoW’s enchanter, and takes the results to make runes that can be applied to specific item slotted items. I found the restrictions on the runes to be a bit heavy initially, however later on I felt that the runes themselves seemed to be too few as I was crafting items that I couldn’t use for nearly 10 levels. This skill could use a little buffing out, with some more runes to give some more buffs. The buffs provided by the runes seemed adequate for the time and materials invested though. If you are going Runecrafter, I would highly suggest you also take a skill that allows you to create items as otherwise you will be starved on this skill. Almost anything can be runebroken into materials though, so you may avoid this pitfall with luck.

I ran 7 matches of the low level PvP zone, Black Gardens, on Saturday. It’s a standard capture the flag type of event, with more points given for having the flag, which slowly kills you (lore reasons), in specific areas. In almost every one I ran though, the carrier for either side ended up in one of two spots – behind a big tree or in their own rez area, hiding in a corner guarded by a squad of people. It reminded me of some of my less fun Warsong Gulch runs in WoW. During two of the matches I felt the need to turn off raid chat as someone spent most of the time berating the flag carrier, the players on our own team, or both. As I previously mentioned, I am not a PvP fan however, so this may be what some folks are interested in and we just had poor strategists.

Lastly, I rejoined my LoTRO guild in Rift and got to play with a few of the guild options. Guilds in Rift have levels, which get experience points based on daily guild quests. There appeared to be at least two; one PvP related and one instance related. Completing these and gaining guild levels allows your guild to have both passive and triggerable skills. I liked the passive ones quite a bit, especially the decrease to training costs (as I was constantly training, it seemed), but there was some with a buff to crafting, and an increase in cash rewards from quests. There’s also banners you can use, like a rally banner that allows guild members to all teleport instantly to a specified location, or ones that increase mana and hit point return. These appear to have a one hour cool down, and only last for a short time, but are still very nice.

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Jaded old gamer, and father of gamers, who's been around long enough. Still, he's always up for giving the Next Big Thing a whirl.

27 thoughts on “Rift: MMO’s Greatest Hits Album”

  1. “A LoTRO guildmate asked last week for a reason to play it over LoTRO”

    In Rift
    *The user interface has a placeable system, allowing most any element to be set where you wish with no mods or forced copying and pasting of files into folders to allow this.
    *The user interface scales to your actual resolution and is not locked to a specific font size or 1280×1024.,…thus allowing large screens to allow you to read text…as well as allowing you to resize the UI on a per pixel basis, and not have the UI look blurry due to being sized beyond it’s means.
    *All characters are modeled with motion capture to allow a more lifelike movement of players and animations to seem more in line with how many FPS your game is running at.
    *Characters move at the hip and through the body properly, thus not moving like a “Mechwarrior” robot when turning.
    *Story is not IP based, thus not stuck to rules and regulations set by the books, and can allow the developers and storytellers to have more leeway with what happens in their world.

    Other bits and pieces like the open grouping mechanics, better evolved PvP and class system, dynamic event system that allows the devs to create events on the fly, ..to name a few.

    Oh…did I mention Rift is new?

    1. Outside of UI and char model improvements, and the open world quests (rifts), Rift is just that – a typical fantasy MMO based on all the ingredients of its predecessors.

      “dynamic event system that allows the devs to create events on the fly”
      I enjoyed the Rifts, and can see where they could be allocated in different regions based on player population, because those newbie zones aren’t going to be what they are now in beta after about 2-3 months. But if thats what they are meaning by ‘dynamic event system’, spawning monsters for players to kill, I see this getting stale after a couple months as well.

      1. “a typical fantasy MMO based on all the ingredients of its predecessors.”

        Yes, but offering characters that are a pleasure to look at, combat that does not look like robots fighting in 2d and a UI that allows me total control of all the features I want in a UI without forcing an old man to squint to read or making icons look fuzzy when resizing them, and a development team involved and wanting to make a great game.

        The world is new and is not based on an IP, thus allowing this team more control over change. I have more to work with in the class structures (souls).

        I could keep going on…

        For me, I see many reasons to leave LOTRO and actually pay for a sub. Of course, LOTRO is worth its price at least…Free.

        1. It doesnt matter whether its a new IP or not – just if you buy into it and the devs do it justice. LOTRO does the actual settings of the various locations hugely successfully. Wonky character models aside, it does a lot right.

          So id be careful as it seems the fanboy bug has bitten you. Once the ‘new shiny’ wears off, and you have played the Public Quest game 100’s of times, will Rift have enough different to offer its players that other MMOs already provide, some for no monthly fee?Thats the big question for anyone whose been thru the last couple years of MMO launches.

          1. “id be careful as it seems the fanboy bug has bitten you”

            Actually, no. I just think there are MANY more games that are better than LOTRO.

            Rift just happens to be the most recent one that does many things much better than LOTRO.

            1. “Better” is a very subjective and personal view. Turbine, for the huge restrictions they have on what they can add to the game, have made a pretty solid and complete game. You have to remember that LoTRO exists in an extremely detailed and well-mapped universe. It would be akin to making a Row Row Row Your Boat MMORPG – the limits are pretty tight.

              Rifts character animations, well some of them, are much better than LoTRO’s, but you’d hope so given years advancement in tech. You must compare apples to apples. Environment would be a good one – LoTRO’s environment is very good, and Rift’s is as well. LoTRO’s is even a bit more realistic, I’d say. Rift has the extreme benefit of not being bound by a an existing license, which means they can have guns that shoot butterflies if they want because no one will complain.

              I think you latched a bit too hard onto the LoTRO vs Rift comparison, rather than the point I was trying to make about MMORPGs in general out right now vs Rift. That’s the cusp of the “why should I leave” argument or question my guildmate had – if I’m enjoying myself in my current game, is there something that is so completely out there different that merits my departure? I honestly didn’t see one, but I welcome your comments on the one you seem to have found. Simply saying, for example, that “Rift is less cartoony than WoW” doesn’t inspire me to leave, as an example – the game needs that spark of something new, which I think the rifts may be, to set it apart from the ones similar to it.

              An example would be Lego Universe. Unfortunately, the game is too small, in my opinion, to keep an adult player entertained generally, but the building mechanic you do on your own lands is honestly amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it and have nothing to compare it to. It’s very obvious that this feature alone has already inspired loyalty amongst the fans of the game by the hundreds of threads about it.

            2. “I think you latched a bit too hard onto the LoTRO vs Rift comparison”

              Anyone who knows me, knows why.

              LOTRO took a license that I and many others enjoyed and turned it into a muddy, green and brown and badly animated MMO with no character beyond what limits the IP has set.

              But, hey I am ok that people want to continue to put up with that to be in Middle Earth.

              But, your argument is like saying “Ok, I am playing Halo…what beyond the setting does Call of Duty offer me to switch?”

              As to your argument about Rift, I do not disagree in that Rift uses what is already out there, just makes it shinier and newer. And if you are happy with last gen graphics and buggy gameplay (no, not 100% LOTRO, but most MMO’s out) and will make do with the way your character moves and can accept a UI that allows zero ability to shape to your needs (100% LOTRO)…then by all means, stay there.

              To me, when most games I already have played can’t let me play through without having a GM help me finish some buggy quests, or I still get stuck on rocks that were issues when the game launched, or their client is so huge and bloated and crashes for no reason over and over…I’ll willingly pay for a game that DOES offer a more stable and polished environment…even if I have been playing that style of game before.

              There may be problems I have not seen yet in Rift, but that is not to say that the company is not working on that. I just have yet to find a single issue that has ruined my gameplay.

              Really, all I am saying is, even though YOU cannot find reasons to leave your current game, I can give you a hundred reasons why I AM leaving my games.

            3. I’m a little puzzled in the first place as to why someone has to be given reasons to play a game over another. Or “leave” LOTRO to play Rift.

              Why not just try it to see if you’d like it, rather than wait for others to convince you?

              Especially odd since LOTRO has a free-to-play option. Never have to ‘leave’ it at all.

            4. There are people that want to know if a game is good or not before they invest $50 for a box. Those people ask people they know and trust for their opinions. They will frequently ask for a comparison based upon something shared and known between the two people. Some of these people have not ever played another MMO other than the one shared and known.

            5. Leave as in some of us only have a small window of time we can play, due work, family and the like.

              Also, most of my kin in LoTRO is in VIP or Lifetime, so we either have a paid subscription (and don’t want 2) or have a good amount of time invested.

            6. Then they’re not looking for a reason to play a new game, they’re looking for validation to stay.

              And it then strikes me that it becomes a bit wasteful of breath to seek to persuade them otherwise.

              I can understand the ‘seeking a trusted opinion before investing $50 for the box’ rationale, if there is no free trial. In this specific case, there is.

              So the cost of trying before buying is pretty low – a small time investment to register, download and play. If one is unwilling to do that, then one is most likely not ready to move to a new game.

              I do get that the original statement is more about Oz not being able to articulate any differences that might tempt someone into trying Rift, because Rift is very much standard template MMO with a sprinkling of new.

              Just expressing some puzzlement over a common perception that one has to give up one’s current MMO to go play another. An hour or two of playing something not-current MMO really isn’t going to hurt, and then one gains a better founded opinion about one’s personal reactions to the game to make final committment decisions on. :)

    2. A tip for the LOTRO players that have not yet figured it out: Control + Backslash: Unlocks the UI, allowing you to customize it to your liking.

      1. There’s also lots of scaling options. My mini has each member’s window HUGE, for example, because that way I can better judge the decreasing health bar with peripheral vision.

      2. Just make sure to note scaling is on a bitmap scale. If your resolution is larger than a 1280 (which is LOTRO’s default) then it causes the image to “blur” (as all icons are set at a 1280 pixel resolution).

        With so many new monitors being 1920 x and higher, this looks silly compared to most modern interfaces.

        As an added bonus, a majority of the fonts are a serif (for skill power descriptions for example) and do NOT scale above a certain size (I believe it is 14 or 16) meaning once you go beyond that 1280 setting, you have a shrinking font that becomes next to impossible to read.

        But, yes, it is nice they offer this feature…just it is very last gen, seeing it is based on the Asheron Call 2 engine for the UI.


  2. The big zone events give tokens (specific to each zone) that can be traded in for some very nice (relative to the zone’s level) gear – check the Rare Planar Goods vendor in King’s Retreat (I can’t recall where the Guardian one is – Argent Glade, maybe?). The items I’ve seen all took 1-2 zone tokens and a variable amount of Planarite (the stuff you get from sealing rifts/defeating invasions) – basically if you participated enough in an event to get one of the zone tokens, you probably have enough to buy at least one decent item.

    In a nice touch, you don’t need to have been in on the kill of the final event boss to get a reward – just participated in the event by closing rifts or defeating invasions.

    1. I wonder how much involvement you have to be. I wasn’t as involved with the Mage (although I was involved with killing the Big Bad once), but on the Cleric I ran with a pack from rift to invasion to another rift and killed the big bad and got no special token. Any number of normal Planarite and several of the uncommons, but none of the purple ones which are what you are referring to, by my guess.

      Then again, it could simply be a sliding random scale, with it increasing as you get involved. My luck in games on rolls is legendary – I only won 3 random rolls in EQ1 in over 7 years. I was very glad to go to a DKP system in raids =)

      1. I thought you got the Blue or Purple Currency reward automatically for participating but I might be wrong. In one event I got one while I was in Sanctum and all I’d done was heal a few people as I ran past on the way in.

        Your side does have to win, though. Of the three zonal events I was in today (two in Silverwood, one in Gloamwood) the Planar invaders won two and I got nothing despite being heavily involved.

        On the issue of how “good” Rift is, I am coming to the view that the Rifts themselves, which are getting all the attention, are actually just the icing on a very tasty and filling cake indeed. I love chasing the rifts, but I can honestly say that if they didn’t exist I’d still be pre-ordering. I find the world fascinating and extremely detailed.

        Mrs Bhagpuss said today that it feels like a hybrid of Vanguard and WoW and weird as that sounds, I have to agree. It has the wonderful, worldy “feel” of Vanguard with the slickness and professionalism of WoW. Just as well it wasn’t the other way around :P

        1. The hybrid feeling is what I mean by “Greatest Hits” type game. I did put that caveat in that I don’t mean it to be negative, but by Elementalistly’s reply, I might not have stressed it enough.

          The game has enough familiar elements, no matter your current/former game, to feel comfy, and then adds the rift mechanic on top. I’ve seen a few postings from the devs and they have totally admitted to this, and to me that shows that this was less of a “let’s steal what works and make money!” and more of a “I remember doing this, and it was fun – let’s have that in the game”.

          1. The type of shard dropped is based on the rift type. Minor only drop the blue planerites. Hence my little gripe that sine you can’t count on doing the major rifts of killing elites, using rifts as your primary progession leaves a HUGE gear gap as you level. You could fill in the gaps with crafted and PVP gear.

            I’ve seen some improvements and tweaks that should hit live next beta. In one play session I received the elusive enchanted whatevers so I could finally upgrade my gear with rewards vs buying from AH.

            1. The one drop one of my guildmates got that I was incredibly envious of (and thus, will never see) was Hoppy – the devil rabbit.

              Considering it took me over 100 Turtle kills in LoTRO to even see the baby turtle (although lost the roll of course), I know I’ll never see it.

              But oh how I wants it. Oz wants the precious rabbit. Precious…

      2. Weird – on my Bard/Ranger I just beat off a couple of invasions that were hitting the hub near where I was questing, otherwise ignored the event, and that got me one of the tokens (can’t recall which of the two) when it ended.

        Just to check, you did win the event, right? The special tokens don’t drop, you get (or at least *I* got) the usual rift-closing/invasion-beating loot-claim popup window when the event was successfully completed.

        1. Well, I can’t check until the next beta, but I will now. I expected a loot window. My cleric is the only one who “won” an event I actually participated in. Several were won while I was on the mage, but my participation was minimal, at best.

          1. Over the course of the beta i won 2 of the highest tokens, 4 of the med ones. And the highest coin was definately from helping during a major invasion, and i certainky wasnt the highest damage dealer, playing a <20 warrior. Must have been some combination of what level rift bosses you helped kill and the RNG.

  3. I was playing beta 6 when I suddenly realized the rift mechanic makes me think that I am playing Gauntlet Online. That made me smile as I had not thought about the Gauntlet games in over 20 years.

  4. I still need to try out the Cleric. I looked at the different Cleric trees, but nothing really stood out for me.

    I ran around with a Chloromancer/Elementalist/Warlock in beta 6, and it’s the bee’s knees. There’s a post in the official forums that talks about this combo, but the gist of it is:

    Elementalist – 6 points for Revitalize. Spending Charge for mana means no downtime whatsoever on standard mobs. Ice Shield is great for emergencies, plus 100% damage absorption means no caster bar knockback when getting hit. Lesser Earth Elemental is great for tanking, especially with Lifegiving Veil and Synthesis from the Chloromancer tree. Spam Vile Spores, Bloom (with Healing Slipstream to remove cast time), and Nature’s Touch to keep the elemental/tank alive.

    Warlock – 6 points for Sacrifice Life: Mana. Beta 6 threw in some big bad golems during the rift events, and I found myself running out of mana after doing maybe 1% of damage to the stupid things. Revitalize won’t work because you have to be out of combat, so this is the next best thing. The healing you get from Lifegiving Veil will pay for your lifetaps.

    Chloromancer – main tree for damage and heals. Good times :)

  5. I quite like that every class has the option to have a pet, that’s nice. I think as for which class I want to play on live, I’ll need to research a bit more. Don’t want to overdo it on beta!

    1. That may be Rift’s big hook – there’s really a crazy amount of customization if you look at the different souls.

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