Home > A Time In The Life, MMORPG, Review > A Week In The Life: RIFT

A Week In The Life: RIFT

Or: How I Learned to Hate the Genre But Love The Gameplay, (For certain definitions of Love.)

It’s a lie to call this a review of RIFT as a game. A Review of RIFT as a game is basically boiled down to ‘Like X but,’ and there’s really no point to that. I haven’t actually played some of the games personally, that I’d be comparing it too. This is more a review of the whole style of this genre of MMORPG as it relates to RIFT in specific. There won’t be stunning revelations here, I’m hardly the first person to bring these points up. A summary of my review could be gotten by playing Progress Quest or Progress Wars if one wanted. Nonetheless, here’s my take on how to beat a dead horse.

RIFT opens up in one of two ways, either 20 years in the past as a Guardian, or 20 years in the future as a Defiant. The tutorials are fairly well done with the Defiant one being much more interesting. A part of it is likely the Post-Apocalyptic vibe you get from the Defiant intro and the rather fun technology occasionally on display. No matter which you choose however, being lead towards your final goal, one of the many Rifts that give the name its name, one point is made immensely clear. You are the hero, you are the one Ascended who can travel back in time to change the past, you are the one who defeated the Avatar of Regulos and were chosen by the Vigil to come to the future, you and you alone. Along with everyone else around you of course.

Claria and the Guardians of Telara

You can't see it, but behind the King, on the Throne, is a squirrel. It explains so much.

That’s really where the game loses me. The story, that supposed driving force meant to be pushing you through this game? It’s all designed around you. You’ll find the same issue in nearly every major MMORPG out there mind you, this isn’t as I said at the start a slight against RIFT. It’s a slight against the Genre, there’s just no sense to it. Even DCUO which at least has a story that supports multiple Superheroes suddenly appearing doesn’t fare any better once you get into the actual game. It’s a flaw, and it pulls you out of the game and reminds you again and again that the story is Single-Player but the game is Multi-Player.

And quite the multi-player experience it is, I won’t lie. I can definitely say I found the community aspect refreshing and the ease of which you can join parties and leave them for them open world Rift and Invasion events led quite a few times to being part of a group of people and knocking out quests together. There’s none of the hassle, early on at least, of trying to find a group that I got back when playing FFXI or other group heavy games. It just happens, and an hour or two in you sort of look back and laugh at how you only joined up to take out a silly little invasion force and here you are now taking down the large-scale invasion into the world that’s affecting the whole countryside.

Fire Squirrel!

The Defiant's Squirrels are at least on fire. I can respect that.

It’s such a great experience that it’s a shame, a damn shame that in the end it just doesn’t measure up to anything. The gameplay is fun, but the story doesn’t match it. It drags it down in a necessary but frustrating way. I don’t see it getting better either. I trust Bioware and expect The Old Republic to be an amazing experience story wise. It’ll still, however, likely be a Single-Player experience, and there’s really no good solution to that. Once you let go of that though, treating the story as simply something to savor like a cheap paperback pulp story between the thrill of the game, it’s not bad. That goes for any of that style of MMORPG, and from there it all becomes, how fun is the actual gameplay for you.

Claria in Modest Trousers of the Insightful

Okay, now that's just a damn lie. Give me back my tunic, I'm not going out in this.

RIFT was an eye-opener, but it’s not something I’d pay for, at least until a community built up around it. A community offers a lot of things, the most of important of which is support, both out of the game and within. All MMORPGs require a certain level of out of game information. There needs to be time for that information to disseminate and analyzed before you’ll have an idea what’s going on. As for support within the game by other players, RIFT requires it more than most. The titled Rifts are public quests that if left unchecked can lead to areas being overrun, denying access to the quest givers one needs to continue. Without a good solid community, you can expect a lot of trouble from that.

Claria Wants Pants

This isn't any better! What, did they run out of fabric?

Right now the Soul system is complex and confusing, give it a try here. That’s basically most of the fun and frustration of the game right there; trying to find good synergies and connections between the souls. Yet synergy is so rare and some of the information so vague as to be useless. It’s a complex system, but I’m not sure it’s more than an unneeded complication to just playing. It does however give you Resets and Roles, allowing you, after some questing, to access all the Souls within your ‘Class’. You’ll have the chance to try it all out if you like, and for that it deserves a bonus. Also the Rank Up system makes sure that abilities stays useful through your career.

There isn’t a lot to say about it otherwise, RIFT works. It has been polished to a beautiful shine by the team working on it; which is perhaps why you can see the reflection of another more successful MMORPG in it. If you’re tired of WoW’s Pulp and want to give a new story a try, you could do worse. If you’re tired of WoW’s gameplay however, of the game behind the Genre, the facerolling, macro-requiring,Trinity-bearing style of it all, you won’t find anything new here. Still, if nothing else, it has helped me learn to love the gameplay and hate the Genre, and that counts for something.

Arl in Bondage Gear?

Yay for Equality though, I guess?

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