While it seems like most of the MMO bloggers were nomnomnoming their way through the TSW launch deliciousness this weekend, I decided to set aside some time to really dig into Rift and get re-acquainted with the game. As some of you know, I played Rift at launch for a while, eventually leaving because the game world just didn’t seem to stick with me. I can’t explain exactly why, although I know that I wasn’t completely alone – many others expressed the same feelings at the time. Still, I’ve been a bit of a Trion fangirl ever since. More than any other MMO company out there, I feel like they really listen to the players and are genuinely interested in developing a great gaming experience for their customers. Free server transfers? Free mobile app that lets you keep up with guild chat out-of-game? Putting out new patch content at a blistering pace that is unmatched by any other MMO? GMs hopping into general chat to answer questions and get feedback? Yes, that actually happened Friday night on the Faeblight server. Pretty freaking cool.
I was able to join my first Instant Adventure after the 1.9 patch hit last week, and it was super-fun rolling through an open-world zone with a raid full of people, completing objectives in rapid succession. Even better was that since IAs are open-world, if I was out questing and a IA group came rolling through the area, I could join them with the click of a button. It struck me over the weekend that Rift has been successful at doing one thing that World of Warcraft has talked a lot about but has yet to really execute sucessfully – getting people out into the world. I play on highly-populated RP servers in both games, and while I might be lucky to see one or two other players out & about while leveling in WoW, I see other players all the time in Rift, even in the mid-level zones with no Instant Adventures yet.
It’s popular among some folks, particularly those who have played WoW, to say that Rift was and still is a WoW-clone (and boy do I detest that term). Rift certainly did take inspiration from WoW (and many other MMOs as well), but there are so many features that Rift has added over the past year that it’s really grown into being something very different. If anything I would argue that Rift is much like what WoW would have been had it taken a completely different approach to development over the years – essentially WoW in a different timeline. Rift has so many things that distinguish it from WoW other than just the rifts themselves… the Soul System, Chronicles, Instant Adventures, Mentoring, 3-Faction PvP, Artifact Collections, Puzzles, a Wardrobe (implemented long before and much better than WoW’s clunky Transmogrification feature), and coming with the expansion this fall, Dimensions, a type of player & guild housing. All this while still pushing out new raid and dungeon content, new zones for those at level cap, world events, and all the other things that you expect to see during the first year of an MMO, with a development speed and agility that Blizzard can only dream of.
All in all, I’m enjoying my time back in Telara so far. I still have yet to decide what guild to settle with for the long haul – most of the guilds that I was in at launch are gone now, and I’ve been guild hopping (which I detest, but sometimes that’s the only way to get to know a guild) between several guilds on various alts to find the guild that best fits – but I have it narrowed down to two, and one of those is looking far more likely than the other. That decision will likely be made tonight. I also really want to get a character to 50 so that I can participate in Conquest, Ember Isle, and other activities (not raiding! ew!) at level cap, and so that I’ll be ready once the expansion hits this fall, but that’s proving difficult because I’m bouncing between alts right now – I like them all! I really need to pick one and stay committed to it until 50 before alting it up.