Rift Travelogue: Final Thoughts

As I said yesterday, I abandoned doing the big rift events, and focused on leveling my character.  I killed 10 of those and 5 of that, and used this thing on that thing and fought the monster that popped out.  I died a couple of times, and leveled three or four times.  If you’ve ever been to Azeroth, you’ve seen what I’ve saw Sunday morning.

I wound up going to a city that was confusing to navigate, and got a bunch of quests, one of which was for another soul.  One of them was to pick up five pieces of paper that were strewn about the city.  Another was to talk to three people in the city.  Unfortunately it was a labyrinth, the map was confusing, and I found that I really didn’t care to do it.

There were PvP quests, and I’ve done those before, but in WAR it felt like that was what the game was about.  In Rift the story seems to be that the two sides are fighting because they can’t agree on how to fight the real enemy.  It seems like a stupid (if very human) reason to fight, so I had nothing invested in PvP (WoW feels much the same to me).  I was tired of killing monsters for random reasons and clicking on glowy things for NPCs. I was tired of that over a year ago when I quit WoW.

Rift’s advertising says “You’re not in Azeroth anymore.”  No, it’s not. It’s Azeroth’s clone.  The design document for Rift feels like “go play WoW and make the interface like that.” There are talent trees, called up by the same key as in WoW. The spells and combat feel the same, the quest are the same.  It’s another generic fantasy world.  So there’s no races called “orc” and “elf”: both sides in Rift can be sexy looking or ugly, although there’s that disturbing dark/light dichotomy that’s foolish.

The central conceit I got out of the newbie areas was a war between religious fundamentalists and scientific rebels.  Since the gods without a doubt exist, that’s intersting — and it’s dropped for the middle-level grinding.  That is just like everything you ever did in Azeroth, minus the public events.  They try to bring you into the lore, some of it is interesting, but it doesn’t feel tied into the central conceit of the game, so just feels disjointed.

And ultimately the problem with the game is this: it’s $45 plus a $15/mo subscription.  Guild Wars 2 which offers many of the same alternatives to WoW that Rift seems to has no subscription. Other games don’t sell their box at all. Even as I played the Rift Beta, I was thinking “In six months this game is going to be $7, just like Star Trek Online, or free like Champions.”  And the thing is, at least those games weren’t complete rips on WoW.

Let’s be honest: Rift is a beautiful game, it works well, I only had a couple of odd issues and one happened during a stress test of the server. It’s well polished, and fits right in its genre perfectly.  Thousands of excellent art and developer hours went into this game: and it shows.

It’s really too bad they decided to make a game just like WoW.  Because you don’t beat WoW by being WoW.

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