Tripping the RIFT

Obligatory logo!

The biggest MMO since World of Warcraft was released to the masses recently and to help some of you that may be on the fence, I wrote this ridiculously long review. I was lucky enough to receive a VIP invitation to the beta events from a friend at work (Thanks, Mike!) and it was, in a word, fuckingamazing. Don’t question it, just go with it.

Molding the clay

So the first logical place to start is, well, the beginning (after all of the installation stuff). The character creation screen is pretty in-depth as far as options go. It doesn’t give you quite as many options as Dragon Age Origins does, but it is far from being as restrictive as World of Warcraft. There are reasons for the approach that each game takes and each one has its merits along with its faults.

WoW wants to get you in and get you playing as fast as possible. A few faces, some hair styles, skin color and you’re done. Time to start saving the world from whichever villain is currently threatening the safety of the kittens. Happy_face.jpg: You get to start playing quickly. Sad_panda.gif: with hundreds of people on your chosen server, you’re going to run into someone that looks exactly like you. A lot.

DAO wants you to feel like that character is unique and all yours. You aren’t creating a character, you’re giving life to a person. You even have control over the angle and expression of your unit frame avatar and the voice you use when shouting out “Oh, fiddlesticks, my mana seems to be depleted!”. If you were so inclined, you could create yourself with the vast tools at your disposal in the DAO creation engine. Good times: You could create a new character every day from now until the day you died and they could all look completely different. Hangover: HOLY SHIT THIS TAKES FOREVER!

Rift plops you down right in the middle of these 2 vastly different creation styles. You have a lot of options to make the character feel like your character, without having so many that you spend an entire day tweaking and adjusting the distance between the eyes so that you look like a vicious monster killer and not a candidate for a helmet and a seat on the short bus. You have all of the WoW controls with some notable additions like height, eye color, facial hair color… the end result is, hopefully, a character that is unique enough that you feel like a special little snowflake in less time than it takes for you to get pissed off and just click the “Accept” button so that you can start playing.

Oooo! Shiny!

I triple dog dare you to stick your tongue to my armor!
Worst. Vacation. Ever. This is bullshit, Phyllis. Next time, we're going to Vegas.

I’m not going to talk about any of the story. You’re not here for that. You want to know how the game looks, how the game plays, and if it is worth your subscription fee. Let’s start with the eye candy.

This game is absolutely gorgeous. Everything about it is just breathtaking. The character models are top-notch, the environments are rich and they feel like real places, the spell effects will often make you say things like “Dude, bro… that was awesome guy. Dude.” Okay, maybe they won’t deplete your mental facilities to that extent, but you get the idea. Fire has embers popping off of it, lightning crackles menacingly, ice… uh… looks cold. In order to see all of these fancy effects you’re going to need a fairly meaty system, but chances are if you’re a gamer and you’re reading this blog you already have one.

The particle effects are particularly impressive, and it is there that the rich details really come out. The best effects are the ones that you don’t notice because they enhance the experience instead of jumping out and screaming “Look at me! Look how pretty I am!” The little insect swarms that you run past without noticing the first time, the fog rolling off of an icy path, the way that shadows contort and dance as a fireball flies by… the little things like that are the ones I am talking about. You don’t really notice them at first because they feel like they should be there. Details like those draw you into the game and make you feel like you’re in a living world.

I have to say, though, that after several hours of play time my favorite effect is still the level up animation. The first time it happened it was a surprise to me. Not only was I surprised at gaining a level because I was so engrossed in the game that I wasn’t paying attention to my little experience bar, but the effect itself was definitely an attention-grabber. It makes leveling up feel like an accomplishment every time it happens. What? No I’m not going to show you pictures. I’ve got a little video for you though.



And now, some comparison screenshots courtesy of the intarwebz!

9 thoughts on “Tripping the RIFT

  1. I liked the review, but isn’t this an error?

    Solution number 1: Quest rewards changed based on the class and you have chosen
    Class and you have.

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