Monday, February 7, 2011

RIFT: First Impressions

One of the nicer things I brought home from Gamescom last year was a RIFT beta key. I registered quickly but it took a long time until I heard back from them, so I thought they had forgotten me after all. Some time ago however, I finally received the actual beta invitation and could try out the game.

It is a bit difficult to say anything about this game when I'm not really a player of MMOs at all. The last MMO I played? Ragnarök Online! I never played any MMO of the 3d kind, so navigating my character and especially selecting the enemies was challenging at first. I really liked the way the characters looked. They all had such broad hips and broad shoulders, at first it really threw me off but then I grew to like it. Until I took a screenshot and looked at it outside of the game. Turns out: My resolution ingame was a bit stretched and made everything look broader than it was. But strangely, I found this deviation from tall and slender characters, especially females, really refreshing! Oh well!

The gameplay was fun enough; even questing takes a rather intuitive route and you never really feel forced to do anything, which lets you play on and on for hours, obviously. What really impressed me was the wealth of different combination possibilities for your character's skilltrees. I can't even begin to think up which combinations I'd still want to try. So if you start a new character, you never feel like you are "stuck with them", because once you get bored you can choose new ways to skill your character and play them entirely differently! Lots of fun.

The implementation of rifts that suddenly open in the countryside is well thought out and carried out in a very atmospheric way as well. The countryside itself looks really nice, too. I still prefer Oblivion's graphics but that was a single player game. Imagine a near Oblivion-pretty world in an MMO game, that's really something!

Now onto the bad sides I guess, but those aren't really the games' fault at all. It's the players. Granted, you can turn a page in the chat or turn it off altogether but if you are looking for a group you can't help but have to endure the conversations of people ingame. My server was mostly filled with players that constantly talked about World of Warcraft and compared the two games. There is something about the random chatter of MMO people that annoys me. The tone of the conversation is always derogatory, it all serves the single objective to compare e-peens and it seems like people are always looking for fights.

I also realised that people like me probably aren't the target group of the game at all. I at least know my fair share of MMO terminology and thus I can fufill basic group functions but most of these people seemed to be permanent MMO players for whom this was just a different software to carry out their standard way of clicking. That is also a thing that will probably keep myself from playing the game when it comes out. I just don't feel like dealing with rude people like that, who seem to be navigating a whole different world than I am. If it means never getting ahead in an MMO and staying low-level then I'd rather do that than making my way through a dungeon with a group of rude guys for hours.

Even so, having to deal with very frustrating people, the game kept me interested enough to keep playing for hours on end. I don't really know how to write a review for an MMO since I am so obviously not accustomed to all their quirks and unwritten laws, so all I can do is give my view as an unfamiliar person. If you've never played an MMO before and you try to play any MMO you will probably get yelled at at first. Maybe if you can find a group of friends to show you the ropes you will be lucky but with so many MMOs out there and MMOs having developed into their own little niche kind of games, extremely different from the singleplayer RPGS that they once came forth from, it would always be tough to find your way into the system.

Rift at least is a new game where perhaps the minds of people aren't set into stone all that deeply and even for me it was really fun at times. I guess it would be a good choice to try out. For now, having played the game so intensely for the last three days I guess I can say I will never become an MMO player. There seems to be too much to learn just to have a little bit of fun. When the beta ends I think I will just go back to putting up with rude people in League of Legends. At least in League of Legends I can really kick ass if I'm lucky. In the end my overall impression of Rift is a highly positive one, while my impression of the players is an overwhelmingly negative one.

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