Updated Mon, Mar 07, 2011 by Medawky
Existing somewhere between ultra-realistic and a slightly caricatured art direction, Rift does a good job at finding a happy medium and allowing you to control the level of detail best for your machine. Telara is a beautiful but frightening place, and the game’s graphic engine does a good job at conveying that without forcing you into upgrading your system or bottlenecking performance.
Character models may be a touch cartoony, but cleavage is held in check.
I am still of the opinion that putting too much stock in the graphics of an MMOG is the surest way to miss out on a great experience. Leave texture scrutiny and polygonal pixel count debates to the single player games - as long as the graphics don’t detract from the feel of the game world. That being said, the one minor detraction for me so far has been the character models. While I do like the look of a couple of the races, they are lackluster overall. However, if having bland looking characters facilitates smooth gameplay with hundreds of us on the screen at the same time, then it’s a tradeoff I am willing to accept.
The base UI is well appointed and laid out well, with every element having the ability to be moved and adjusted. While I would like to see UI modifications come down the pipe at some point ( especially ones that would modify the mini-map), Rift has one of the better out of the box interfaces available.
The music, ambient sounds and voice acting are all top notch and indicative of a AAA title with high production value. At this early stage of the game, and even throughout pre-launch testing I have yet to encounter a glitch or a bug with any audio component of the game. Perhaps I lack an audiophile’s finely honed ear, but everything I have heard so far has been a nice compliment to my immersion factor.
Free-to-play purists might balk at the $14.99 monthly
subscription, but no one can argue that well supported games with high
quality communities can easily command a monthly fee. Rift shows every
sign of satisfying both criteria, especially in light of how responsive
Trion has been to player feedback throughout beta.
Rifts (like this life rift) and invasions keep the gameplay dynamic.
Working hand in hand with value, lasting appeal will be largely dependent on the game’s community. All the major components are in place: a strong storyline, faction-based conflict, a robust endgame, and multiple paths for character advancement – now it just rests in the hands of the players to determine how well all these elements work for them. I am fascinated by the soul system and can’t wait to see how the various and unique builds will work together, and as long as that aspect of the game doesn’t get dumbed down or forced into homogenized blandness then I can’t see any reason not to play Rift for a long time.
A crowd turns back an invasion at the gates of Sanctum.
While it is impossible to tell the future in today's market, no MMORPG since LotRO or perhaps WoW has done so much so right so quickly. With all of its ducks in row, Rift has the potential to succeed where many other games have failed in their ability to retain players past the initial 30 days. A smooth headstart launch, marred only by the tears of those stuck on the outside looking in, gives a strong indication of big things to come. For the good of AAA MMORPGs everywhere, let’s hope that Rift continues to live up to its expectations and doesn’t buckle under the weight of its own lofty goals.