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.
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Scheduling Conflict

I realize not everyone watches the Superbowl, but seems like an unnatural amount of online games also have something going on this weekend. That I know about from the emails I’ve gotten in the last 24 hours:

Rift Beta
Rift’s load testing event
LoTRO’s Anniversary coins dropping
STO’s Anniversary event
CoX’s Issue 19 + 7th Anniversary event
DDO’s Event Preview
Plus a few beta events for a few MMORPGs still under NDAs.

I miss any? Pass the chips.

Rift Beta 5: Rifts Ahoy

I managed to get an invite for Beta 5 of Rift, and after hearing friends raving about the game decided it was worth trying out. I was not disappointed in the game, but after playing LoTRO so long, I experienced some shellshock with the community therein. This is bound to happen in this day I suppose, but the sheer amount of people who logged in to seemingly do nothing but deride the game and every other player that talked in public channels was a big alarming. During the day, the channels were largely free of this, with advice, random jokes, and comments about specific elements of the game that they liked or didn’t like, with reasons why. Night, however, is when the trolls began to roam the land.

That said, I’d like to give my feedback on the game itself. I’d recommend you first read Ravious’ post here about the Defiant side and his Beta 4 impressions, as you can see some of the issues he mentioned have been retuned, and others have not. After that, come on back and let me tell you about my view, as I played my time exclusively on the Guardian side.

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The Derision Derivative

I plan to make a nice long Rift post tomorrow, as I managed to sneak into the Beta 5, but while I try to enjoy my last testing day I’d like to appeal to my fellow testers to be strong and just ignore the “this game is just like Game Name Here” people which seem to be quite heavily popping up, especially in the evening US time. Explaining how all games borrow/copy successful elements from predecessors is something they either cannot understand or simply choose not to. It’s how evolution works, but the concept is lost on them. Don’t waste your time.


Trapped in the Cut-Scene

In my Lego Universe post I briefly mentioned how I was killed (well, “smashed”) because I was stuck in a cut-scene that was not possible to skip. LU has a lot of cut-scenes, including sight seeing ones you have to do for an achievement in every zone. On my other Christmas game that I just finished, Golden Sun Dark Dawn, the developers seem to have fallen deeply in love with cut-scenes. The Golden Sun games have a lot of cut-scenes to start with, and a lot of fun combat animations, but this one seemed to pause for story scenes as much as the last two games combined! Great game though, don’t get me wrong. In thinking about it more, LoTRO only has a few cut-scenes, and they are generally fairly well recieved.

A case of less is more?

Lego Universe: Commitment Challenge

This morning I logged in quick to see if the much awaited patch had dropped and was disappointed to see it hadn’t. Going to the main page, there’s an article about a new area that will be introduced in “a few weeks”. Even more disappointing is that it says that you will have to learn a new form of combat as what you know is not good enough.

So despite not even being completely finished releasing the first version of its combat/gear system, LU is revamping it. For some reason, I’m remembering Star Wars Online’s famous NGE event. Also, the fact that since launch (October) there has only been 3 very small content additions, one of which was created by fans, not Lego staff, and one was a revision of an existing zone. So besides a zone that you can walk across in under 30 seconds (the holiday Frostbluff zone), there’s nothing truly new from the company since launch. For a subscription-based game, one that promised weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly content updates, this has to be a big red flag.

Lego Universe: Teaching Camping, Grinding, Kill-Stealing, and Griefing to the Next Generation

Tonight a fairly high-expected patch to Lego Universe (LU) will be loaded, bringing with it the missing-at-launch class for all of the factions, along with a new area and a new racetrack. There’s also a great amount of hope that a bank or storage solution will be put in, as there has been a lot of official comments that “something” is coming for a while now. Some of these were promised, but not delivered, at launch, so seeing them come out relatively quickly is good. However, LU launching with such limited content is causing a lot of dissatisfaction among the user base. Nowhere is this more evident as in the zone called Gnarled Forest, in an area called Brig Rock. It is this area that really shows that the “MM” of “MMORPG” was not thought through completely.
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I Soloed Lego Universe And All I Got Was These Green Coveralls

For Christmas I was allowed to pick my own gifts. You’d think this would happen more often as a middle-aged man, but as a man married to a woman who does not share many of my interests, I tend to get clothes. I happen to wear clothes, so this does work out, but it’s not what I want of course. Need and want are two different things.

One of my 3 gifts was Lego Universe. I found it for 50% off on a Black Friday sale, and for that price it seemed worth it. I find it funny to note it appears that that’s the standard price around the web for the game now. Looks like no one else here (I think Ethic changed his mind on it) has given a review on it, so I figured I would do one for the community at large. I feel that it is important to point out this is a tween-targetted (8-12 years) game, so it’s a bit different from the games I play normally these days. However, I do have a lot of Toontown experience, and several months of Free Realms to compare it to. Both of these games target the same market. I’m guessing Wizard 101 and Club Penguin would also be comparable, but I’ve never given those a run. Enough with the terms and conditions; let’s get to the review.

And for those who don’t want to read the whole thing: For $20, it’s worth it for the Lego fun. If you’ve played another Lego game, on any platform, you will likely enjoy this. I’ve played a week, and feel that it has been a fun play.

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Oz Trail of Trials, Part 4 – The Role of Trials

On my last review, on Everquest 2, there were some very valid comments from players of the game today. They made the point that the trial is not all there is to the game, and that I did not experience many aspects that make the game worthwhile. It’s safe to assume that were I to review any game that has been out for over 6 months that I would get people who whole-heartedly support the game and find issue with any negativity. They are not wrong, and yet, neither am I, the reviewer. We all look at games differently, and this is the beauty of a trial – it lets you see if that fit is “right”. However, that said, the trial must be the best show of the game’s mechanics possible. If not, your potential subscribers will have a bad experience and go elsewhere.

Let’s get meta.

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