Black Viper
Black Viper
Mar 072011
 

Since, in recent history, I displayed quite a distaste for FF14, I thought I would post some good news for those gamers looking for a World of Warcraft alternative without having to relearn a game from scratch, as well as be forced to fight through silly game breaking bugs that 30 minutes of game play could have identified.

RIFT was recently released and I thought I would give it a shot. Honestly, I was not expecting much as I have been disappointed greatly in the lack of quality game releases the last couple of years. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised upon first loading up RIFT and its obvious polish out of the gate.

It is extremely difficult not to compare this game with World of Warcraft. The option menus, general UI layout and even keybindings are all a carbon copy. Even though many people want “new and innovative” game play, I want to step into a game and go questing without reading a 100 page manual or sifting through official forums to figure out the simplest of tasks. What Trion Worlds did was not reinvent the wheel, but improve upon it significantly. Granted, World of Warcraft has almost seven years of development time after release to get things right, yet, RIFT is released with features that WoW players can only recently take for granted as a staple of any “mature” game.

With features such as:

  • Quality and unique graphics displayed with capable hardware and plenty of advanced options to tweak to your particular detail level tastes. Speaking about detail, it is well done without making your system melt your graphics card.
  • Four character classes that can be customized further with eight separate paths each, of which three can be active at any given time. Sounds like a complex “talent tree” system? It is not and kudos to Trion Worlds for making such a variety of abilities mesh into an easy system to get into, but always giving min/maxers a chance to get the most from any given character spec.
  • From the start, I was looking deeply into how armor and stat distribution fit into the whole mess and, unlike what World of Warcraft has ended up being (a complicated disaster of different abilities and needing different equipment for different specs… Like my main of a healing priest needing spirit while a shadow priest does not use it as a main stat and then mix in PVP gear for both… it is no wonder we need 22 slot bags to keep up with it all. RIFT, however, has none of that. Mages wear cloth with +INT, Clerics use Chain with +WIS, Rogues get +AGI and Warriors get +STR, regardless of what particular tree and root system or three paths picked. What a relief! After completing several quest chains and getting slight upgrades each time (previous quest reword had +1 INT and now I get a belt with +2 INT and +1 EN, this bangs home the reality of “simple is better”. With that said, I know even the developers of WoW openly said they screwed up doing tons of different specs for all the classes. RIFT=simple. Maybe we can spend our time playing and not looking at four different armor pieces and an Excel spreadsheet to figure out what is needed.
  • A “world” map that is detailed (no fuzzy parchment paper here) that you can use to find your way, from tracked quest to tracked quest areas, as well as a mini map that has tracking options for important NPC’s and locals (like mailbox, trainers, etc). Add in way-points to supplement the quest “yellow circle” that gives a general idea of where to find quest monsters and items. Plus I cannot forget the tool tip when mousing over a monster gives quest status (2/10 killed/collected) that WoW only recently put into place.
  • An intuitive crafting interface with three gather-able professions that are tracked on the mini map and, at least in the starting zones, are literally everywhere. To use those collected items, Outfitters can use cloth to make bags, Weapon smiths can use wood to make bows and so on. Each crafting branch needs much from the other gatherers so economy should be stable soon.
  • A nifty “artifact” system that you may find a sparklie item anywhere in the game world and you can place it in your “collection” with other artifacts collected to make a “set”. I even killed a level one critter rabbit and looted a rabbit tear to add to my collections.
  • Some features everyone (or at least I) expect in a MMO: Character customization, AH and bank coupled with  in-game mail, customizable chat windows, and UI tweaks galore.
    • Character visual customization (including armor color dyes)… I do not want to look like everyone else.
    • Auction House and in-game mail (postage is over priced) with searchable items gets what you need quickly.
    • Complete chat window disable/enable features with different panel support to select what nasty stuff gets sent to you.
    • “Scrolling” combat text with options of not just colored numbers, but including the ability item or the short/full name of the skill landing and possibly the best of all (due to lack of addon support at release) a fairly complete way to customize the UI layout to suit your needs.
  • “Public” events that the world is constantly under attack and you can choose to stay in a private group or join others and get rewards based upon participation in said event. Even at level 6, RIFTS in the game world are open and you can help fight back the minions that emerge from them. Quite an interesting and dynamic feature that really sets RIFT apart from some others.
  • Since my highest character currently is only 13 (level cap of 50 from what I understand), I only have one “battleground” option called a “Warfront”. Not sure if it is like World of Warcraft BG’s or something different, but after I get done here, I am going to check it out.

Regardless, I hope you come away with a better understanding of what RIFT can offer you as a newly released MMO as well as gain the knowledge it is not grey junk to vendor quickly or place into the gaming void of a land fill an hour after release.

Out of hundreds of crappy games, we finally can play a gem. Rockin’!