Rift (PC)

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning’s gimmick was that enough activity in the zone triggered a “public quest” showdown with some big monster. If you participated and got enough points you got a lame-ass goodie that was indistinguishable from all the other goodies. And this was considered the BEST WAY to get gear of any kind. If anything, I think the PVP has more in common with WAR, as the first battleground for 10-20 consists of a game of 10v10 Kill the dude with the thing

Rift’s work/reward ratio is a lot better.

Rift by Trion Worlds Network

The Rifts are mostly “random” (in time, not place) and can be done by anything from 2-3 guys to a 40-man raid group. The more “public” quests are region-wide and have more in common with the Scourge/Lich King “invasion” holiday events from War of Warcraft than they do with Warhammer Online, with elite level mobs in swarms rushing towards quest hubs en masse while rifts pop up off the beaten paths…only more as a game feature instead of a once-a-year gimmick.

There’s a full on WOW-style crafting system for everything from accessories to weapons. There are weapon rewards for win streaks in the PVP battlegrounds, and the servers are cross-linked for battleground purposes. Warhammer Online was pure sodomy. Just a brutal, brutal level grind where from 9-10 was a days work, and if you hit every quest in the zone you just MIGHT make it to the end of the zone ready for the next tier of content at the appropriate level, and gear scaling was a joke. The level grind in Rift is nowhere near as soul-sucking, and the crafting/PVPing/questing/Rifting allows enough diversity that gear scaling is never a problem depending upon what you enjoy.

I’m still not sold on it at the moment. Up to level 15 and have yet to really be wowed. The capital for the Defiant side is really not nearly a treat in the same way that say, walking through Stormwind or Darnassus for the first time was, and I’ll admit that Bram wants to play it a lot more than I do, but it hasn’t yet actively made me feel like my time would be better spent pounding nails through my dick with a hammer the way Warhammer Online did around level 11 when you realized that you had pretty much experienced the gamut of the content from 1-10.

Ultimately, Rift doesn’t do anything particularly glaringly bad. It just doesn’t do anything particularly good either. It’s all territory we’ve been through before. It combines the best of WOW’s crafting and Warhammer Online’s battlegrounds and CoH’s Rikti invasions and even the dye system of Lord of the Rings Online. But the setting is fairly banal, the Guardian side is utterly vanilla (Dwarves, High Elves, and Fair-skinned Humans? Come on), the character generator is lacking (Aion spoiled me on that) and some of those little things I enjoyed so much in War of Warcraft or LOTRO, like flying over terrain on a flight path instead of immediately being transported from “here” to “there”, or the nuanced quirks that defined classes, such as that Mages could conjure their own drinks and food and distribute it to the party, or a Warlock’s soulstone and pet combinations are absent from the game.

All the skills you acquire are devoted to three things: Taking less damage, healing more damage, or doing more damage. And while the levelling system does lead to what I think will probably be a beautiful amount of end-game customization with a full set of points, linking skill acquisition to talent point investment means that you gain skills at a very dry rate of 1 skill every 2 levels or so.

I don’t want to try and compare this to War of Warcraft, a game that just came out can’t really be compared to the amount of content in a Massively-Multiplayer Online game that has been running for damn near seven years. I don’t really hate this game. I think I’m just too burnt out by the MMO formula. How many MMO’s can I play before I’m familiar with the drill to the point of apathy? If you really love MMO’s, Rift is decent enough to give you a few months of playtime. And who knows, with enough initial interest, they might tweak things sufficiently with v1.1 to make it even more enjoyable. But there’s nothing addictive about the gameplay that you can’t find at a pre-existing MMO in a much better format.

Verdict: Passable!