It figures I’d get a beta invite the day before I get my preorder codes, but I don’t really care how I got in, I’m just glad I got to take a look. From what I’ve seen so far, I can say I agree with most of what everyone is saying (Bio Break, Kill Ten Rats, MMOGC, Manifest Pixel, and especially Wolfshead Online); it’s got a very strong sense of “sameness”, but it’s highly polished and “same” isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for when you head into RIFT. I’m not going to add much on what others have commented, except for a few things.
One, the game is gorgeous. I’m a sucker for good visuals, and RIFT has it in spades. Only a few hours into the game (barely out of the Defiant starter area and still in the Guardian one), and I’m glad I pre-ordered. Definitely worth the price of admission. And the experience is highly polished for a game in “closed” beta, even if it is only three months from launch.
Two, I agree that the starter areas do hustle you along, but having read that criticism from others, I made the effort to just wander around, even in the starter zones. It’s worth it; lots of little details that add to the lore (especially in the Guardian zone) and make it worthwhile, and the Collections mechanic make exploring worthwhile.
Three, and this is a general criticism that RIFT just triggered, is the “Saviour Story”. I haven’t experienced much of the overall story, but I’m already a little annoyed. What’s with the whole, “You’re our only hope!” approach to story in an MMO? It seems like every other game wants me to feel like I’m the only change for world’s salvation. One, there’s a real disconnect when someone is telling me I’m the only shot the world has got and I’m surrounded by a dozen other players receiving or finishing the same quest. Two, I play MMOs to be a part of a bigger world, with other human players; I don’t need to be The One, I want to be a part of something bigger. If I wanted to be The Savior of the World, I’d play a single player RPG. If LotRO proved anything to me, it’s that I can play a secondary role to a larger storyline and still feel heroic.
Sure, I’d like to feel like I’m making an impact on the world around me (even in entirely temporary and invisible ways), but for me the stories are entirely personal; I don’t need everyone else to witness my story or for my actions to play out on a global stage, it’s my story, for me, and that’s how I like it. As long as I can share the experiences and the fun.
Anyway, RIFT. Yes, “sameness” (someone in chat said, “Yeah, but WAR done right would be a really fun game!” and I agree completely). But still fun, and definitely worth checking out.