I’ve spent a good chunk of time with the Upcoming Rift MMO Beta this past month or so. I leveled several classes and combos to try and get a feel for the world, and I’ll be honest - I really wasn’t expecting much. All the MMOs before that have been promising in the past, only to fade away or outright fail, left a bitter taste in my mouth: Warhammer, Age of Conan, DDO, Aion….all the supposed “WoW killers” barely diverted people’s attention for a month before they were forgotten. So why should Rift be any different? If those couldn’t kill WoW, why should Rift be any different?
Well, maybe because we really don’t want a WoW killer. We just want a great game.I’ll let that sink in. We. Don’t. Want. A. Warcraft. Killer. Why does a game have to ‘kill’ World of Warcraft to be successful? You won’t kill the 900lb gorilla with 12 million subscribers. It’s asinine to try, and that’s why most games fail – they try to replicate 6 years worth of appeal. Not only that, they try to replicate the same reason most are tiring of Warcraft: The everything for everyone. The game for PVE, PVP, Solo, group, crafting raiders!!! What MMOs need to do is find a niche, a segment that can take an aspect of a game and improve on it. Siphon the WoW players that are tired, jaded, and playing out of habit.
So when I began to play, I (like many) thought “this is really like WoW”. It felt somewhat similar, some commands were the same. But as I progressed thru the started zones and souls, I began to realize how much this ISN’T like WoW. And as I continued playing, I realized that for the first time in years, I could really see playing this MMO. So here’s why:
The Class System:
First off, I’m not here to bash WoW; I’ll always have a soft spot for WoW, I had some great times with it and met so many great people. But I’m also not going to say WoW was remotely perfect. Community aside, one of the many things that bothered me about WoW, and attracted me to Rift, was the class and spec system.
In WoW, you either tanked, did damage, or healed. While things did get better with the dual spec system, you were still pretty limited. And players like me that played a healer with 2 healing specs, we rolled alts if we wanted to DPS. Or tank. And who ever heard of a mage healing? A support rogue? Your role was defined by your spec – your resto shaman wasn’t going to be stormstriking anything.
Now let’s look at Rift’s classes. At first glance the 4 classes – Warrior, Mage, Cleric, and Rogue – seem a bit….underwhelming? Generic? But each class has a choice of 9 specialties (called souls – think of them as traditional MMO classes) and can have up to three Souls in one Role! How’s that for choices? Not only that, but right from the start, you can save two separate role trees, and can purchase two more for a total of four. So perhaps you have a three soul layout for soloing, and switch to healer build for dungeons. Or maybe a DPS/Support role? For example, I spent the majority of my last beta week as a mage class; I healed as a Chloromancer/Archon/Dominator, but ripped shit up by switching to my Elemental/Archon/Stormcaller. And the possibilities don’t stop just by picking the 3 souls….even placing talents within the soul branches can further refine your build. The possibilities are almost endless. Check out the Soul Calculator here!
Some may be turned off by this. It certainly is daunting, and almost intimidating. But for players like me that are excited by the thought of a clean slate and discovery of how classes and souls work, it’s a godsend. Remember how excited we all were when Cata launched? Everything we knew was thrown out the window and anything went because it was a period of discovery? It’s that feeling all over again, only bigger, and no one’s scared of a giant nerf bat taking away our toys any time soon.
A great source of information (other than the official Rift site) is Riftjunkies – a fan run rift site. They have some great discussion, and laid out some guides for beginning solo and group builds for all the classes.
The Support Class? WTF is that?
A support class was something of a dying breed these last few years. How many of us had said over and over again, we would HAPPILY give up our offensive talents to bring the best support? Or the best heals? That’s why WoW classes became a giant cluster fuck of homogenization – Player X wanted to have the same DPS as player Y. Player Y said that’s retarded because they can’t heal. Player Z didn’t like that his tank didn’t have the survivability of Player B, who was pissed he couldn’t mutli-mob tank like player Z. Player C couldn’t single target heal like player N, who complained he couldn’t Group heal like C….so after several thousand buffs, nerfs and “class balances”, after awhile, classes pretty much all felt the same; their spells were just called different things.
I miss roles that brought something special, and I’m not the only one that loves the idea of support classes: sacrificing personal dps or output to bring party and raid buffs/debuffs to a fight. Like a Bard, Inquisitor or an Archon. Or a tank that specializes in magic resistance, like a Void Knight. Or a powerful healer like a Purifier. And the best part is: those souls are only ONE of your THREE soul choices for ONE Role! The possibilities are endless. Your class can and WILL bring something desirable; where there are ‘jack of all trade’ classes and builds, they are a master of none.
“But AVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVA” you cry “What about those raiding pitfalls where you were lacking certain players? What the hell are you going to do then?” Easy. Because of the almost endless combination of classes, almost all classes can fill any role in their own way. Need a tank but only have a Rogue or Mage? Use the Rogue Riftstalker soul in a build or the Mage Elementalist soul. Or what if you need some healing instead from those two? use the rogue’s Bard soul, or the mage’s Chloromancer soul. With so many possible soul combination, and 4 spec saves available, not to mention the ability to wipe and respec souls for a fee at trainers, a group will be hard pressed to be lacking for much.
What I really love about RPGs is IMMERSION and character development. I think the lack of both was my biggest turn off in WoW (besides the “trophies for everyone’ theme) – you didn’t really develop your character. You got some loot, and then started an alt. And another, until you had character slots full of toons for which you had no particular attachment. And then you pick one of these characters, form a group, & zone into an instance that removes you from the world in which you interact with others. World events are limited to holidays or expansion kick offs that, for fear of disrupting the world, arn’t much of an event. What good is an event if it doesn’t effect the world? Not much.
The world of Telara is under assault – by demons, by dragons, by elements, pouring through Rifts torn in the fabric if the universe to rain death upon the inhabitants. There’s nothing really immersible or consequential about that if it’s business as usual when that happens. YOUR WORLD IS BEING TORN APART – YOU AREN’T GOING TO CONTINUE TO MAKE BAGS AND SCAN THE AH. If you don’t beat back the rift, they will continue to spawn dangerous beings that roam the land, and eventually, can attack and crush towns. Dangerous creatures, both native and foreign to Telara will assault travelers and cities alike – the guards ain’t just for show. Help defend it for honor and survival! The rewards are great and many, and determined by your participation.
Now there wouldn’t be much of a threat if there were just ordinary monsters. They come in solo, in waves or groups and many are elite, requiring groups for safety and success. But what better way to kill the immersion that to start yelling “LF4 more LIFE RIFT (MAJOR) NEED HEALZ? Lucky, when a threat is approaching, the game automatically starts forming a raid of those in the area. It will ask you if you wish to Join Public Group – if you wish partake, click the button, your raid frames pop up, and fight your way to the rewards! If you choose not to partake, simply ignore it, and the option will disappear when you are out of range.
And nothing gets your attention like a Demon screaming across the zone, taunting you and everyone there about your approaching death. And not just text – actual voices.
The Other Shit
- Graphics – While I liked WoW stylized look, I’m also a fan of this. It’s pretty. The effects are amazing, the motion is fluid, the lighting is spectacular. And while you need a beast of a machine to run everything full bore, a standard PC that plays WoW will still run it with the bells and whistles.
- Crafting – while the basics are covered, like weapon and armorsmiths, outfitters (tailors), butchers (skinners) and what not, you have the ability to choose three. I chose an outfitter with foraging (herbalism) and butchering, since many main professions need 2 gathering to support it. It’s not NEEDED, just like in WoW, you can forgo gathering and barter and buy your supplies from others in the AH. However, what I like about it is simply it doesn’t feel tacked on or lack a purpose other than to provide buffs for endgame. Your trainers provide quests, items can grant XP, and the best part is – you can actually use the gear and it’s usually a substantial upgrade. Even better, is the ability for crafters to salvage gear to reclaim some of the materials.
- Questing – perhaps it’s simply because it’s a fresh new world, or a new story, I never felt like I was grinding, nor did I ever feel lost or confused about quest specifics. The quests are well laid out, the general areas marked on your map, and they had a good flow to them. While I do think the time involved to level will be slightly more than one may be used to in WoW, it didn’t feel like a negative to me.
- The UI – right out of the box, the in game UI is fully customizable, movable, & scalable.
- The music – I usually don’t have MMO in game music turned on, but I was suprised here. Like most MMOs, it’s themed per zone and area, but also situation! And not just “you entered combat” – impending danger, about to make a discovery….it really just adds something special.
- Character Customization – While I am disappointed that each faction only has 3 (inital?) races to choose from, the amount of customization I was able put into my character made me a happy camper.
Raids and Dungeons
I personally can’t say to much about this from experience – I dinked around with classes so much, I didn’t get past level 20 on any character, so I didn’t partake in any 5 mans, much less raids. The first dungeon, Realm of the Fae, is available at level 17 (I think) and there are numerous more on your journey to end game. The devs have also mentioned they are fully aware of the importance to end game, both to themselves as gamers and to players. I’ll have to have a follow post for this part later after launch. If you have any experience in this area, please leave your thoughts in the comments for others to read!
Rest assured, like others, this will be the biggest draw for me. I play MMOs for the raiding end game, so I’m hoping it pans out and they keep getting my subscription payments, or if this ends up being a $60 diversion until Star Wars: The Old Republic is released.
The biggest downfall from almost every MMO in the last 5 years has been over promising and underdelivering. Gamers in this day and age are unforgiving and fanatical. If we throw down $60 or more for a game, that game had better be ready when it launches, and deliver what it promises. Almost every single MMO since WoW has shot itself in the foot by simply launching before it was ready. I may not speak for everyoe when I say I would rather wait, knowing that a quality product will launch, than to pay for some half-assed, unfinished, untested piece of shit. You know the saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well it goes for games as well. Fail to impress when you launch, and no matter what you fix, add in or patch, most players won’t return to see your efforts.
With that being said, this is the first MMO in YEARS I have been confident in saying “it’s ready”. My gameplay was fluid, I didn’t experience any game breaking bugs, and even during load tests, server crashes were rare. Now I’m not saying the game is bug free or crashes won’t happen (because I’m sure they will) but it is by FAR the most polished of any game in recent years.
So now what?? DRUNK TANK GAMING!!!!!
90% of the draw of an MMO is playing it with people you know and have fun with. Many of you have all heard me mention the project Rane and I have been tossing around, Drunk Tank Gaming. It’s a gaming community for all of us, run by all of us adult gamers looking for a relaxed, no kid environment to play video games. Well, we’re probably putting the site up tonight – it won’t be anything fancy as of yet – just the boards and forums. What will make the community a success is YOU! Come visit! Chat! Tell your friends! Meet new ones! Yadda Yadda Yadda…..more on Drank Tank Gaming in a later post.
Now, for those of us looking to play Rift, that’s where this comes in. We’re looking to start a a guild on a PVE server (hopefully the Live server lists will be published on 2/22/11, so we can pick one). There is no faction preference as of yet, so we can vote guardian or Defiant on the DTG boards (I’ll be honest – I’m leaning HEAVILY towards Defiant, but we can be swayed). Now, for those of you wanting a PVP server, check out Dregcast’s NegativeZero (they’re also hosts of the new Rift podcast, Ascended) – I played most of my beta with them, and they’re a fun bunch! http://dregcast.enjin.com/
We have no ambitions for whatever guild we create – while it’s safe to say most of us are interested in raiding, currently the focus is to give people a place to play and a large group to try the game with, explore, tackle dungeons and level. And if we have enough people at end game, we’ll go from there! No Pressure, no commitments, just us immature gamers from the social interwebs. We have a vent or mumble server going up as well – we’ll have to vote on that too!
Now, as I said, Ranedor has promised to have the site up tonight – it’s a work in progress, but at least we can start using it (and if it’s not up, make sure you send him a DM every 5 minutes asking when it’s going up). Register (and leave a comment here) letting everyone know if you’re interested, and we’ll get a vote going on faction. For those of us with a pre-order, we want our ducks in a row before the 24th of this month! We’ll have an entire rift section for general discussion, dungeons, the usual.
And as far as Drunk Tank Gaming the community goes – it’s a community! Feel free to post anything you wish, contribute in any ways, or if you wish to lend a hand, let us know! It’s For gamers, By Gamers! Bookmark the site! See you there! www.drunktankgaming.com
**** EDIT – Server lists are out: We’re thinking Defiant side, and PVE server Shatterbone to start. Sound good?