Paths in RIFT’s Telara – Part 1
By Jonathan Doyle, OnRPG Journalist
Have you played Rift yet? If you have, you may well be feeling the same thing I feel. I know not everyone will. We’re all different gamers with different desires after all. Some of us will prefer different challenges.
Even so, I imagine a few of you are feeling what I feel. I’m in love.
Allow me to explain. I was not expecting anything from Rift. To be perfectly honest, life is very busy all by itself. When you add in trying to keep an eye on the shifting nature and buzz of the games market, things get lost in the chaos. For me, this was Rift. I didn’t consider it a loss. I blog on occasion, I write, I keep in touch with bloggers and sites that help me keep an eye on the market. I figured I’d catch up. After all, hype is expected. If ever a game gets released in the AAA market and isn’t hyped, I’d wonder where they spent the advertising budget.
Rift, then, for me was just something that was. It’s a game, I play games, I’ll get around to it. Then bloggers started playing the beta events. It still didn’t click for me. There were other things I was doing.
Eventually I got codes for Beta 7 for myself and for Meticulous Meta of the City of Heroes column. I am sorry to report in yet another dreary sentence. I did not play. I did however make an effort to at least look at the game in Open Beta just for something different. Two days later, there were two collectors editions pre-ordered.
Why? I’ll try explain but I am not sure if I can. Love is the best example I can give. I am in love with the world of Telara. I very quickly and very easily fell head over heels for a game I had up until that point completely ignored. For me it just struck the right chord at the right time and I came home to a game and a world that I didn’t know I missed yet. Right now I’m in the office and all that is coming over the lifeline that is Twitter, is Rift. My friends have fallen under the same spell as I have. Meticulous Meta is in love with it as well. It just ….works. I wish I knew why.
Let’s look at the game itself. People have mentioned seeing massive influences in it from World of Warcraft and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. These things are true. You have your quest hubs, you are led in a clever manner from one to the next and introduced to everything at an easy pace. Even the titular rifts are familiar if you have played any games recently. They are, on paper, essentially public quests for warbands. Does that properly convey how enjoyable they are? Not by a longshot. It doesn’t properly tell you how exciting one can be, even when it is not yet active and instead lingers as a tear in reality. A tear that floats there and tempts you to pit yourself against it. The crafting, the rifts, the quests and even the warfronts. These are all things that I have seen before and they were done well elsewhere.
Here though, they fit fantastically. For me certainly, the systems I listed off, haven’t been perfected exactly. It is as though this is the game those systems were designed for, it just hadn’t been created yet.
Then there are the additions. Foremost amongst the all is the soul system. If public quests are Warhammers legacy in the MMO world, the Soul system will be Rifts. The four basic archetypes blossom into nine souls each, any three of which you can have active at any given time. Further to that there are “role” slots that let you collect and eventually play all the souls you want in their combinations of three. Want a pvp rogue but have a ranger bard hybrid? Push a button and you can change into your pvp souls. It is so simple and so cleverly designed that I wonder why I personally have never interacted with its like before.
In the end, no matter the triumphs or failures of Trion Worlds with Rift, the final proof to any player is in the playing. I personally never tried Rift in its earlier incarnations. Maybe in a way I am lucky. I never saw the world in a rougher state. I never experienced the level cap when testing high level content. I have come to this world as a new player and had the chance to see it with fresh eyes.
In the end, I fell in love. Hopefully Telara will be that game for some of you. That game where you cannot ever imagine yourself playing anywhere else. Maybe it will just be a quick fling with fond memories. Maybe you will even hate it. That is of course all down to you, the player.
It’s worth a shot though. I’m glad I took it, even if I cannot properly define how I feel about the game. I’m just not articulate enough. Neither can I define love, no more than anyone could. Instead though I will leave you with some lyrics I am sure you are familiar with and hopefully will explain where exactly I am with Rift and Telara.
And then I saw her face
Now I’m a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
I’m a believer
I couldn’t leave her
If I tried