2012 is already a year made famous by either an innocent omission or
dire prediction from our ancient Mayan friends. It is also an election
year, so there is plenty of polling and pontificating going on. So in
that spirit we felt it was high time to cast our gaze forward at the
coming 12 months and see what the future may hold for style="font-style: italic;">Rift.
Admittedly, some of these forecasts are as so easy that even your local
hack weatherman could get them right, but we didnt get into this
business for the difficulty level. With 2011 being a fruitful year for style="font-style: italic;">Rift, this year
should prove to be much more interesting as several new challenges in
the MMO space crop up.
Given the ridiculous amount of content that the
style="font-style: italic;">Rift team has
pumped out in the past 10 months, it isnt much of a leap to predict
that this trend will continue. Just what sort of content and the
methods of implementation are the only real mysteries.
The recent announcement that the Rift
team is seeking testing guilds to help tune their new raid content
harkens our first prediction more raids! I know, I am truly a seer.
Even if that announcement hadnt gone out, it only stands to reason
that a focus on end game content would be a major part of the 2012
strategy as the largest part of the population is sitting at level cap.
Expect to see an equal number of 20 and 10 player encounters released
this year as the team continues to refine their approach. With the
current population trends however, the move to more 10 player content
may happen towards the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2012.
The original focus of Rift,
or what had set it apart at launch, was the large scale group content
of rifts and invasions. I expect there to be several new forms of
gameplay launched this year as part of the regular update process, but
I also believe that this is the year where the team analyzes the most
popular facets of open world gaming and devotes more time to upgrading
and tweaking what players like as opposed to creating entirely new
My only bold prediction here is that there will be some form of co-op
gameplay introduced to allow members of both factions to work together
inside the same structure towards a common goal. I know there was an
announcement that was blown up out of context about driving a wedge
between the factions, but I think bring them together, at least
temporarily, will be a more likely scenario (and of course once the
objective is accomplished then they can kill each other with reckless
Expect to see more emphasis on PvP in the coming year in the form of
new content and greater attention to balance issues. Trion
has done an admirable job of trying to keep everyone happy in style="font-style: italic;">Rift, but many
PvPers feel slighted. While this is probably more a perception problem
than a reality problem, it wouldnt be surprising to see a greater
focus on this aspect of the game in the next 12 months. Hal Hanlin told
us back in October that he didnt like to artificially incentivize PvP
as it is much more compelling in its rawest form, but some tweaking
needs to happen to keep folks coming back for more.
New mechanics for better open world PvP, or a new gameplay type that
facilitates player vs player combat is a pretty safe bet for 2012. With
SWTOR adding some new wrinkles to the mix, expect to see style="font-style: italic;">Rift raise the bar
to attempt to recapture some of the defectors.
2012 will bring us the announcement of style="font-style: italic;">Rifts first full
expansion. I predict that players will be able to take some
measure of the fight to the planes themselves, using either technology
or divine intervention to cross over. Expect an increase in
the level cap to 60, giving players new skills and abilities. The game
world will be growing as well and not only will there be the new planar
zones but also new areas of Telara made available for exploration.
Hopefully the best part of the expansion will be huge refinements to
existing aspects of the game such as crafting, customization and UI
improvements. While I dont expect to see a new race or calling
announced, it wouldnt be shocking to see some wholesale revamps of
current souls and improvements in the early stages of the game.
Improved zone flow and quest updates will help new players integrate
and give core players a better reason to roll up new alts. Rounding out
the expansion should be improvements to racial differentiation, giving
players a more compelling reason for choosing one race over another.
Finally, I suspect that 2012 will see a small shakeup of the members of
team at Trion. With a new MMOG in the works and the need for new ideas,
it wouldnt be a stretch to imagine that one or more of the big names
have their role revised or move on to new projects. Hopefully
the same core principles that guided the original team will remain
intact as their commitment to player satisfaction has been superb thus
What do you think about the future of style="font-style: italic;">Rift in the New
Year? What predictions would you make about the world of Telara and
what we have in store for the next 12 months? Let us know in the
comments section below.
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