I have certainly been looking forward to the release of Rift. I participated in beta events, preordered through GameStop, took advantage of the head start, and picked up the game the minute I left work today. There is no doubt that the game offers some fun features, especially if you're sick of grinding and extensive party planning. The multiplayer elements are easy-access, which should be an essential part of any MMO but often gets neglected with sloppy play mechanics. There is also a ton of flexibility for character creation and skill development. Make no mistake - Rift is a good game with a healthy feature set. But there is one question that all of us will be trying to answer over the next few months (and no, I don't mean whether it's better than WoW).
Is Rift worth paying money to play?
Obviously, there are many sides to that question, and it's far too early to decide on a lasting, definitive answer. However, I do have a few key suggestions to consider.
First, we must examine whether Rift does anything to advance the genre. I personally found the story to be more compelling than the average MMO, and the graphics are certainly a step above aging games like WoW and Guild Wars. But when you think about it, neither of these achievements should really be a surprise. After all, Rift has been in development for years, during a period of great advancement in game narratives and graphics technology. We should expect a new MMO like Rift to offer impressive graphics and a decent story, and neither is so astronomically grand that they will blow away the competition. Even the UI feels fairly standard, and the "dynamic world" mechanic doesn't totally deliver on its promise of generating unique player experiences. If Rift does anything to advance the MMORPG genre, it is a return to proper multiplayer components, especially raids. It's both fun and easy to join raids, and you won't have to wait until level cap to do so. Also, the PvP feels more meaningful than in most MMOs.
Second, the overall fun of the experience is perhaps the most important aspect of a pay-to-play title. With Rift, this will largely depend on player preference. For me, atmosphere and level design are among the most important factors in making a game feel "fun". For others, it may be all about the PvP and community interaction. Fun can be rated on many different scales. My personal reaction is this - Rift feels relatively drab and medieval in it's styling, and even the "rift" gimmick feels a bit weak. I don't find myself gawking over vistas or drooling over creature designs. All of it feels as generic and standard as an MMO world could be. The lack of originality prevents me from getting fully immersed in the game world, and that could be a kiss of death for many players. However, as I mentioned before, some gamers may rate the fun based on PvP and community mechanics, and since Rift does well in both areas, those players may be able to look past the generic world design.
Third, I am not entirely convinced that the pay-to-play model was the smartest choice for Trion to make for Rift. Every MMO developer wants to be the next EverQuest or Warcraft, but subscriptions are becoming increasingly risky in today's market. Both EQ and WoW benefitted from multimedia franchising and excellent marketing budgets, but Rift is even more obscure than Guild Wars was when it launched. Granted, Guild Wars has become a great success against stiff competition, but much of that success came from ArenaNet's development history and its lack of subscription fees. And while WoW is a good game, I am thoroughly convinced that it would not enjoy as much attention without its expansive merchandising and media presence. Rift will have a tremendous uphill climb to reach that kind of notoriety, and that hill becomes even steeper when you consider how young Trion is as a company. The bottom line is this - Trion will have to take very good care of its playerbase to maintain a successful pay-to-play model, and that means constant content updates, special events, and server strength. Without these things, Rift will likely be forced to walk the same line as Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons, both of which switched to free-to-play models after subscriptions failed to turn a profit.
And that brings us to my final sub-topic, namely free-to-play alternatives. I have played dozens of free-to-play MMOs, and I have an increasing respect for the F2P model. As I said before, LotR and D&D switched to F2P models where players pay for premium add-ons only when they deem those upgrades worthy. But F2P is nothing new - anyone who has visited MMOHut.com will know that innovative free-to-play titles flow like water in Korea, and we have access to hundreds of them thanks to Western localization studios. Granted, only about 1 out of every 10 of these titles is worth playing, but that still leaves quite a few that ARE worthy of your time. Games like Vindictus, Atlantica, Cabal, Sword 2, and Aika have respectably large communities in North America, and because of the enormous amount of competition between Korean titles, many of these games offer something "different" to maintain interest among their players. Despite being free, these games MUST provide frequent events and content updates to keep gamers from jumping to other F2P titles. Vindictus, for instance, offers action gameplay similar to Monster Hunter and God of War, graphics that put most American retail games to shame, and full support for console-style gamepad configurations, not to mention a devoted community of intelligent gamers.
So what is the point behind this last topic, aside from singing the praise of many F2P games? Well, in its relationship to Rift, I simply wish to make the point that starting a fresh MMO subscription is growing increasingly unnecessary, and if a new game like Rift wishes to succeed in a market where F2P is growing more common, it will need to do more to differentiate itself from the alternatives. As I stated at the beginning of this discussion, it's too early to judge whether Rift is worth its subscription fees, but so far, I am not convinced that Rift offers enough originality to keep me playing after a couple months. I applaud Trion's efforts, and I hope to see Rift grow beyond my current impressions. But as it stands, I predict that I (and plenty of other gamers) will enjoy the newness of Rift through summertime and then slowly drift back to our previous favorites, whether its the annoyingly persistent WoW or any number of free-to-play alternatives.
I would love to see Trion prove me wrong, and I would love to hear the impressions of other players.
Champions Online is by far the best F2P MMO I have ever seen.. Vindictus is a great F2P game (I don't know about MMO), but yeah.. all my Everquest memories haven't been repeated even in WoW.. I want to see what the boards say in a week before I try this.
//____________ "I stole my sig from Cyberslasher! LOLOL!"
The only three MMORPGs ive ever played in my life is (in this order): Final Fantasy XI, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and although i left FFXI long ago, i think they were all amazing...my fourth will be added to that equation very soon, i'll be purchasing Rift.
[ My Videogame Collection ] http://www.gamespot.com/users/xCha0s/games_table?mode=own
From: TarotMasterJF | #001
Entirely subjective, since it boils down to a persons own preferences and opinions.
Personally, I played a little a month ago or so and now I'm waiting to see how it goes for its first few months before throwing any money at it. I'm already juggling two pay-to-play MMO's (Eve and CoX), and a game has to be pure awesome right out of the gate (in my opinion of course) in order to force me to switch one of those payments to another game. So, I'm biding my time until the game has gotten out of diapers and a trial or so becomes available to actually try the game again. Its my way, I'm not saying its the best.
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Any game worth playing is worth paying for.
"Obviously it was the most epic bubble hearth of all time."
~FalcownPAUNCH on Dalaran being moved to Northrend.
From: TarotMasterJF | #001
These two posts read like a bad master's thesis. The whole topic could have been boiled down to "Is Rift worth paying money to play?".
I'm gonna need a hacksaw.
Too long and didnt read because this is subjective.
Is Rift worth paying to play?
"If it weren't for electricity we'd all be surfing the web by candlelight."
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I'd pay 30 a month to pay this. Best mmo i have played and I have played all the mmo's except DC universe
It's fun and worth it. If one of my souls starts to feel stale, I spec out of it and try something new.
[EVe *also responds to Santana*