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.
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 Rift, this year should prove to be much more interesting as several new challenges in the MMO space crop up.
ContentGiven the ridiculous amount of content that the 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.
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 EventsThe 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).
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 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 Rift raise the bar to attempt to recapture some of the defectors.
2012 will bring us the announcement of 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.
Rift TeamFinally, 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 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 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.