Rift Review Part 1

I found myself wading through waist-deep framerates in an effort to familiarize myself with the ways and habits of Rift: Planes of Telara. This issue was the focus of my first 20-30 minutes in Telara, which I can’t say is a good experience to log in to. I knew immediately that the engine being used was Gamebryo. I can identify this hideous bastard anywhere it’s used – usually because of the stench of the senseless framerate issues it plagues games with – especially if anything is displayed on-screen. I was able to improve the framerate by disabling Ambient Occlusion and Shadows.

Here I was, in this large stone building of sorts, accepting my first – fuck off, hint system – my first quest from some manner of being with wings. I immediately went “Shit, I hate characters with wings in my RPGs” and, through questionable quest design, jumped 20 meters to the accepting NPC. Turning in this pointless quest gave me my first… well, class. I think they call it soul or something, it isn’t entirely clear or easy to remember. I picked druid. I was able to look out of this jello-like magic gate of sorts and see out into a very busy world. War was apparently upon me.

The starting experience was basically like any other good starter zone. The first few batches of mobs were yellow-con and the quests were incredibly straight-forward. I didn’t read any of the quest text because like in most games it’s likely incredibly shallow mixed with a bit of filler. “Oh noes, exactly 14 bad rats attacked my farm! Could you go and kill exactly 5 of them for me?”

As I made my way through the first 10 levels of my little druid life, I was deeply impressed with the rifts. Let’s get the comparison out of the way: it’s Public Quests. This is a good thing, since the single best mechanic that WAR is known for is PQs. It’s that one mechanic that not only hasn’t been drastically changed in 2 years, but it’s finding its way into most other aspects of the game. The bottom line here is that the best products out there aren’t necessarily original products, they’re products that have looked at previous products and learned about what not to do and what works. In general, the more unique MMORPGs have sucked ass. I’m very happy with the rift mechanic, but I’m somewhat afraid of what will happen when the lowbie zones become largely deserted.

Overall, the art style reminds me of EQ2. No, I have never played EQ2, but that doesn’t stop me from making the comparison. This is in no way a bad thing, as EQ2 appears to have some very immersive environments.

Another thing that I was very impressed by was Rift’s crash handling. When the game inevitably crashes (see: Gamebryo usage) I get a prompt that allows me to send an error report to the developers and it actually restarts the client. That’s not all, it skips the intro movies for me, and logs into my character automatically. Color me fucking impressed.

That’s all I have to say about Rift: Planes of Telara so far. The server is coming back up right now from a tiny beta fix and I’m eager to get back to leveling.

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