I won't respond with a boring "Rift is awesome!" tag, though personally I am enjoying it...lol.
However, I can respond as a hard-core, dedicated WoW fan of 5 years, with a husband who has played since 2 months into beta. And with a true understanding that Rift is only entering it's second month as an MMOG...
The scores given by Ten Ton Hammer are reflective of what we are finding in Rift. It does not matter where the UI came from, it does not matter what elements were borrowed from other games...as a standalone statement of the features offered in Rift, it is a good score. The review is not based on a comparison model, it is based on the gameplay as offered on it's own. I understand how easy it is to compare, but that is not a fair basis to use when writing a review, as this is a month old MMOG.
That said, a truthful analysis of any game is "find it, kill it, get rewards". I have not necessarily found leveling to be quick and easy, but neither is it slow and repetitive. If gamers choose to lose part of the experience by not reading the questlines and not wandering around exploring some, that is their own fault, and they have no right to complain if they get into a mind-numbing state of kill, turn in, kill, turn in.
Regarding the same elements used from other games? I loved the fact that I didn't have to learn a whole new wheel, just a few adjustments needed and I was moving along. Though Trion will take flack over it, I feel they did something absolutely brilliant and long overdue-->they actually listened to their audience. And I don't mean the QQ you see in trade channels. I mean thoughtful discussions and logical explanations of "why this doesn't work, why this is frustrating, why this is awesome".
Also brilliant? Their timing. My husband and I run a raiding guild in WoW, which I would classify as semi-hardcore. Which means we're on almost every night, we enjoy raiding and refuse to deal with stupid gameplay, but we also all enjoy just running together and doing silly things too. Our base core has been running together for about 3 yrs, we've all ended up friends on facebook, and several of us now run together in Rift. But back to Rift's timing...very nicely done by Trion. This is what happened to us, and from trade chat, to our entire server. Cataclysm came out-->we all rolled along enjoying the new quests and new zones-->hit level cap and went thru the agony of replacing our hardwon ICC heroic gear with greens-->hit the new dungeons, but discovered the McDungeon finder was even worse than before unless you used it for lower levels-->began only running with guildees after one too many times of queing for 45 min just to have the tank/heals leave after the first boss dropped their item-->ground through dungeons that were significantly harder while trying to relearn nerfed toons-->ground thru heroic dungeons while WoW continued to nerf/buff/change/destroy any toon other than a mage-->began to raid once geared enough for it, but starting discovering that what was listed as raid-ready geared was NOT. And where you used to be able to pug in to learn raids or get a little more gear? Not happening. Because everyone else was running into the same problem. Literally for a month the only one I saw a pug for was Tol Barad, and no one in the guild wanted to waste the time with it after the first time because it only dropped one item for PvE. By this time, we were regulated to farming rep to make up for limited raiding...and thats all we did...for our limited hours in-game, we farmed. Cata was finally burning us out...and about that time, there's an advertisement for Rift, like a beacon of light thru the darkness...
Rift did steal alot of things from other games. The difference is, they incorporated them into one game, where all the wheels actually work. And for those of us that are old D&D gamers, Rift gave us the customization that was sorely missing in WoW. And I don't have to have a $5000 system to enjoy it. I PvP'd in WoW maybe once a month..in Rift, I hit warfronts regularly, to break up questing, or check out the map for where the closest rift may be. In Rift, I have viable OPTIONS. I have a company that responds immediately to problems in game...not within days, but within hours.
To me, Trion is treating this game and gearing it more toward adult players...and if they are smart, they will continue to do so. All of us adult players don't switch back and forth constantly trying to get a new fix, we stick with you, we pay ahead on subscriptions, and we don't cancel them for the latest and greatest thing that comes out. We don't need instant gratification, we don't mind working toward a goal, and we're willing to take more than 2 hours in a night to do it, as long as it's actually do-able. Most people on our server are college-age and up, and stupid crap in trade is shut down quickly. And when people group up for a dungeon, they stick it out...and get it done...and make some new friends in game.
I can adjust my roles to fit MY playstyle, and ignore the cookie-cutters. I can REALLY learn this toon, and not be forced to level a whole other toon just for a different spec. Which means when I start another toon, I actually get to enjoy it, and learn it, and not be just chasing level cap for whatever I want to do with it.
In short, Rift's only true crime is being the game that WoW SHOULD be by now. And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so...subscriptions are climbing entering the 2nd month, instead of declining as is the norm for a new game.
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