Rift: Through the Looking Glass - Rift Predictions for 2012

November had turkey, December had presents, so what does January bring to the table? Predictions. And what better game to prognosticate about than the surprise hit of 2011, Rift.

Rift PvP

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 Rift.

Admittedly, some of these forecasts are as so easy that even your local hack weatherman could get them right, but we didnÂ’t get into this business for the difficulty level. With 2011 being a fruitful year for Rift, this year should prove to be much more interesting as several new challenges in the MMO space crop up.

Content

Given the ridiculous amount of content that the Rift team has pumped out in the past 10 months, it isnÂ’t 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.

Raids

Rift predictions

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 hadn’t 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.

Zone Events

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 things.

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 abandon).

PvP


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 Rift, but many PvPÂ’ers feel slighted. While this is probably more a perception problem than a reality problem, it wouldnÂ’t 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 didnÂ’t 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 Rift raise the bar to attempt to recapture some of the defectors.

Expansion


2012 will bring us the announcement of RiftÂ’s 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.

Rift Predictions

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 donÂ’t expect to see a new race or calling announced, it wouldnÂ’t 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 into Rift 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.

Rift Team

Finally, I suspect that 2012 will see a small shakeup of the members of the Rift team at Trion. With a new MMOG in the works and the need for new ideas, it wouldnÂ’t 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 far.

What do you think about the future of 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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