Rift Review

By on April 24, 2011

A polished amalgamation of MMOs.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Now Rift has two main factions: the Guardians, who fight believing the Gods will help in their cause to defeat the main villain of the game, Regulos.  Then there’s the Defiants, who use forbidden technology (which has a bizarre steampunk kind of vibe) also, in order to defeat Regulos. Naturally, each faction fights between themselves.

So Rift has four basic classes, those being the Warrior, the Rogue, the Mage and the Cleric. Each of these should be familiar to anybody who’s played MMOs before, but the twist here is that each class has 8 subsets. Basically since you are brought back from death, you now have the ability to harness the souls of legendary heroes from the past. The benefit of these subsets eventually boils down to you having the ability to have three souls active at any one time.

The soul system allows for a huge degree of variation between each class, even though ultimately they all do the same thing. Cleric understandably heals, Mage and Rogues do pure DPS while Warriors can DPS as well as Tank. While the soul system sounds like a good idea, in practice it becomes very cumbersome to handle as the player will be overwhelmed with all sorts of abilities accessed as you keep leveling up. More often than not, there will be more than a handful of spells and abilities that you will never use, some whose function overlap each other.

Soon, and much too soon for my taste, the leveling was over and done with and the end-game content began at level 50. This is the place very Rift starts stagnating. While the entire experience from the beginning of the game up to level 50 was polished and enjoyable, Rift starts to show its limitations at the very end. The PvP is OK as it is right now, with frequent patches trying to balance out the chaos on the wargrounds. I like the map layouts though, as they force players into making tactical decisions on the battlefield; holding choke points and advancing with melee classes.

PvE in the end-game for the most part means non-instanced raiding in the open world. Unless you’re part of a guild, raiding can be an exercise in frustration. First of all, there’s no LFG (Looking for Group) button, whereby you can queue yourself up for a dungeon or raid. And once you do get into a group, you’ll be lucky if you find a group where everybody knows how to play their class well. Greenscale is still a far off possibility for me.

Ultimately PvE and PvP just ends up being a grind for better gear. This is not a bad thing, since pretty much all MMOs out there do this, but herein lies the problem. Rift takes up some of the best gameplay aspects from WoW, Warhammer Online, and a few others and presents it in an extremely polished package. However, it doesn’t create anything new. There is no innovation here. For MMO veterans, Rift is just another fantasy MMO where all the gameplay mechanics have been done before.

Out of the gate, Rift is one of the best MMOs out there. It’s stable, has hardly any bugs, is being patched to counter balance issues on an almost daily basis, and basically has all the tropes of a good MMO. What it fails to do is compel me to go back and play it. Newcomers to the MMO genre will find Rift a very apt alternative to WoW, but for all the other MMO vets who’re tired of the WoW formula, we’ll have to wait until SWTOR or Guild Wars 2 comes out.

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The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8
Pretty much all the nuances of a well established MMO is present here. Minor issues are being patched out very often.
GRAPHICS
8
One of the best looking MMOs out there, the shader modeling is amazing. However, the art style is very bland and uninspired.
SOUND
5
Some of the most boring background music and poor voiceovers in any MMO in recent history.
VALUE
6
It's an MMO, so the value factor increases the more you come back to it. Once you've had your fill though, $15 a month may seem too much.
FUN FACTOR
8
Rift public events and non-instanced raids are great to come back to time and time again.
OVERALL
7.5
Great for players new to MMOs, veterans may want to look elsewhere (or wait a bit longer).

About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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