My time in RIFT this past month has left me confused, frankly. Primarily because I remember genuinely enjoying this game more than I did.[AL:Rift]That’s not necessarily to suggest I had a bad time these past few weeks in the game, to be clear. I’ve just had a reasonable time. A wholly unmemorable time. A very lackluster and serviceable time. And even though I’ve said that MMOs can be OK and still be enjoyable before, something about RIFT falls short of that marker for me, which is hard to swallow because this game was a good time at launch.
A lot has certainly been said before about this game’s initial arrival, especially its swagger-step up to the king in its advertising claims of “You’re Not in Azeroth Anymore” despite being a completely new IP from effectively out of nowhere. Discounting the game from that bit of marketing silliness, however, I remember fun being had during the first month or so of launch. I remember a very busy open world where I just sort of ran alongside a random zerg, closing rifts left and right. I remember finding the combat more interesting. I remember finding the Soul Tree system way more engaging.
So what the hell happened?
Part of it probably is due to the game devs losing their focus, perhaps. I feel like they had something genuinely unique when they introduced Instant Adventures, but it also doesn’t seem like it’s filled out too well. I think they had the best intentions when they added the Soul Tree preset guides, but it didn’t knock down a barrier of entry so much as pave paradise and put up a parking lot. I suspect the game’s application of free-to-play monetization didn’t win them many fans.
Part of it is due to my own personal tastes, maybe. I don’t dislike tab-target slower paced MMORPG gameplay, but for some reason the combat in RIFT feels a bit dulled. A lot of the effects don’t really have the impact of newer games, the sound effects seem somehow off, and the combat animations seem to have bare little variance and end up seeing my avatars looking like they’re moving through rheumatoid arthritis pains.
Perhaps, though, I’ve subconsciously said goodbye to this game already. Recent developments out of Gamigo most assuredly don’t inspire confidence in RIFT’s future and it feels like this game just floats around like an aimless wraith. I continually get surprised when news about the game crosses our newsroom here at MOP.
It never was like this, though. None of these feelings were prevalent in me back when this game launched. And I remember all of those times fondly. Games change, sure, but it still feels like some of the bare bones of RIFT should have been comfortably enjoyable. And they weren’t.
It’s like this game is trying to gaslight me.
Even if I have mentally moved on, I still feel bad for RIFT and for the devs that tried to put this game together. There really are some good ideas here, genuinely. I really like how open the Soul Tree system is and would have loved that to be leaned into instead of watered down into swill. The Instant Adventures system is a fabulous way to earn levels that should have been built up and made into an engaging and diverse way to level up instead of the tried-and-tired quest hub system. Combat could have maybe been touched up – give these characters some Tylenol so they can move better at least.
I guess it’s too late to be begging for all of that now, though. I know this feeling all too well; that Sword of Damocles of a game’s demise, the shift in mental air pressure that permeates a game’s community, and that fruitless yet instinctual desire to have just a few more runs, just a few more levels, just a few more minutes with friends before it all goes away. Nexus remembers and so do I.
I can’t say that my return to RIFT was bad. Or that it hurt. But it was also oddly uncomfortable. I’m still not sure how to process it all. But I should – because it’s time to move on.
To that point, last week’s polls found an even split between starting off in Trove and starting off in MapleStory. I’ve elected to begin with MapleStory this month, but I don’t have plans to ignore the other 50% of voters, so this month might be a two-for-one deal. We’ll see how our time in Maple World goes. To that point, it’s time to pick a starting class!
What base class should I start with in MapleStory?
- Magician. Spells, baby! (19%, 22 Votes)
- Thief. Especially because later classes are cooler. (27%, 30 Votes)
- Warrior. The tried, tested, and safe melee choice. (6%, 7 Votes)
- Bowman. Ranged attacks (that aren't spells), baby! (13%, 15 Votes)
- Pirate. Which is demonstrably better than ninja. (35%, 39 Votes)
Total Voters: 113
As usual, polls will close up at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 30th. For the time being, I’ll scatter the ashes of RIFT’s memories to the wind and try not to be so confused by this past month’s gaming.