Open beta began yesterday with Rift. I am heading to the Guardian side initially at launch after I have spent most of the invitation-oriented beta on the Defiant side. The Defiant are a cool, god-forsaken magitech alliance. They comprise three different “new” races, lots of cool lasers and devices, and a total sense of independence. In their tutorial, the Defiant oppose fate and time by building a time machine to change the past for heaven’s sake. Then, we have the Guardians.
Having only experienced the Defiant side, I believed that the Guardians were going to be this boring vanilla faction. The Defiant have races with cool names I can’t even remember, and the Guardians have humans, elves, and dwarves. The Defiant are rebellious, and the Guardians are just part of the system… man. I also saw my prejudices confirmed in various forums on Rift. It seemed that everybody was excited about the Defiant, and “mature” guilds were considering rolling Guardian side just to get away from that immature crowd.
A strong Guardian community was forming on Faeblight that I wanted to be a part of, and so last night I rolled through the Guardian tutorial. I was expecting a vanilla candyland of World of Warcraft’s Ellwyn Forest or something. I was wrong. Trion Worlds definitely escaped a very strong gravitational pull from a standard baseline faction and made an equally cool faction to the Defiant.
The first thing Trion did right was make the Guardian side feel like they have power. This can be hard to do with a faith-based culture. Too little and the faction doesn’t sound cool. Too much and it gets hokey. I don’t know how they did it, but the feel of the Guardians is just right. The power feels Old Testament. Unrelenting and merciless instead of just or righteous. Plus this power was as apparent as all the Defiant gadgetry. This wasn’t a heavenly power source that required a leap of faith and hope. This was in-your-face power. If I called on the power of the gods, it was going to go down. But then, this power also required my heroic usage.
This is just another notch on Rift’s belt that shows how much effort they have put in to all facets of their upcoming MMO. They didn’t just recreate Alliance (vanilla) vs. Horde (rebellious to vanilla). They actually gave both sides very believable, but opposing, views with each having a healthy dose of some kind of power. I think that many players might still choose the Defiant simply because for a mall survey: magitech rebels are cool and religious traditionalist is uncool. But, I would definitely give the Guardians a strong shot for winning the faction cool factor.
angels would smell vengeful