It’s hard to ignore the commotion Star Wars: The Old Republic has been making as it stampedes around the MMO scene. Sure, it’s big. The game’s bound to make some noise. Mix the massive Star Wars franchise with the extremely solid reputation BioWare has and SWTOR is the result. Hello, huge gorilla in the room. With the game due out within the week, many gamers are questioning the future of their favorite current MMOs– including RIFT.
RIFT has had a tremendously successful run so far. Fans have seen a huge array of new content since the game’s release, and Trion has been extremely receptive about figuring out what the fans really want and delivering just that. The future of RIFT looks bright, and will continue to look that way as long as Trion keeps up the good work. RIFT’s not going anywhere.
There’s also the fact that MMOs are more popular than ever right now. It doesn’t matter how many games there are and how popular they might be. There’s always someone looking for that special something that other games just aren’t offering. RIFT has a lot of special somethings, because RIFT has a lot to offer. I’ll say it again– RIFT isn’t going anywhere. Let’s take a look at some of RIFT’s best features to find out why.
RIFT is absolutely gorgeous compared to most of the MMOs on the market right now. Play the game on high settings, and there’s no mistaking the beauty of Telara. Ember Isle is a fantastic example. The scope of the land and the sheer size of the environment is amazing. The rich flora, the deep sky, the tiny details– everything stands out. And oh man, the water effects. RIFT has amazing water effects.
It’s difficult to go back and play an MMO with older graphics after getting spoiled by RIFT’s. The graphical style of the game is definitely realistic compared to some of the more cartoon-style games. Both The Old Republic and World of Warcraft– two giants– have more of a cartoon style than RIFT. All gamers are going to have different graphical tastes and preferred styles, but it’s hard to deny the immersion that RIFT’s graphics provide.
Character Role Flexibility
The Old Republic seems to be pushing players toward creating alts in order to experience the game’s story from all of its angles. It’s a good marketing strategy given BioWare’s story-driven RPG history, but not all players enjoy alts. Some MMO gamers enjoy sticking with one character exclusively, and building that character to their strongest potential.
RIFT’s flexible soul system is perfect for gamers who enjoy one character, because suddenly one character can have up to five roles. A Rogue can tank, provide melee DPS, ranged DPS, or support their group. There’s no need to respec and reroll just to experience the game with a different flavor. RIFT is awesome for gamers who enjoy doing a bit of everything, and love breaking boundaries. There will always be a market for MMORPG players seeking this experience.
Variety of Character Specs
Along the same line, there will always be a market for players seeking new talent trees to experiment within. Just inside the Cleric class, for example, a player can not only play with different roles, but with different specs as well. Healers can try out Warden, Sentinel, Purifier, the various Justicar hybrids, and any combination of all four. DPS Clerics can experiment with melee, ranged, dark damage, light damage, pet builds, AoE builds, and more. For many RIFT fans, coming up with new specs is the best thing about the game. Most MMOs simply do not offer that freedom.
A large portion of RPG fans will always have a soft spot for MMORPGs with a fantasy setting. The reason is simple– that’s where D&D all started. Swords, bows, axes, shields, and magic. Mix it all within a solid lore-filled package and a quest to bring an end to the chaos threatening Telara, and you’ve got an awesome world that RPG fans will devour.
SWTOR is taking a nosedive into unknown territory with the science fiction/fantasy blend that makes up Star Wars. Not all MMO fans want to see a raid 3/4 full of lightsabers. Not all fans agree with the approach BioWare is taking. There will always be room for a setting like Telara.
RIFT is extremely user-friendly. The user interface pops open and players can immediately adjust where everything is and what information is readily available on it. No need to download addons, and no need to spend hours fighting with the UI. For players who want more, they can download addons.
SWTOR’s UI is not currently customizable like RIFT’s, which is something high on BioWare’s priority list. But the fact remains– it’s not customizable. RIFT also features its extensive macro system, which is something many gamers place high value in.
Strong Solo Content
Many current MMOs, including RIFT, are including features for the gamer who enjoys solo and small group content. Developers are realizing that some players get more out of a game when they’re able to get in, have fun, and get out– without having to spend hours looking for a group. RIFT’s dungeon finder tool assists with this, as do the brilliant Chronicle feature and recent Instant Adventure feature. Any lasting MMO will have features like these, and RIFT is no exception.
Trion tried something new in developing RIFT’s dynamic content. Rifts, invasions, and zone events are still some of the game’s best features, and that’s because they make the world feel alive. Telara’s more than just NPCs and set bundles of wandering mobs. Danger lurks, and it’s never completely safe to AFK in the middle of nowhere. More MMOs need dynamic content. It’s hard to imagine a game without it, after having played RIFT.
Constant New Content Releases
After having played RIFT since its release, it’s also hard to go back and check the patch notes for a game like World of Warcraft. New content in other games sometimes takes years to develop. Trion has done an amazing job in pushing out new raids, dungeons, maps, quests, warzones, features, dynamic content, crafting updates, gear, and events. Content never gets stale. A RIFT player can stop playing for a month and return to a fresh set of features and raids to explore.
Fans aren’t entirely sure what rate BioWare will release new content after SWTOR’s release, but the company has their work cut out for them if they are to compare themselves with Trion. To be fair, of course, gamers shouldn’t expect SWTOR to ship with the same features of a game that’s been out for a while. Time will tell the true tale. Remember that the emphasis here is placed on why RIFT will not disappear.
Along the same note, Trion has also been extremely receptive when it comes to player feedback. They keep fans in the know about most of their plans and visions for the game, and players receive this well. RIFT had a smooth launch thanks to Trion, and the company didn’t stop there. Week after week fans see patch notes and developer feedback on the official forums. The game’s developer team keeps in close contact with its community, and that’s the best way to ensure a healthy playerbase.
What would any MMO be without its community? Non-existent, most likely. A successful MMO is brought to life by its community. The RIFT community, in general, is awesome. Most players are respectful and helpful. Most guilds are welcoming to new players and there are guilds out there to fit everyone’s needs.
Not all RIFT servers are as bright and vibrant as they could be, but with a little patience, I think most players will find that the game’s true fans will return to Telara. Will RIFT players try out SWTOR? Of course. As I said, the game’s a gorilla in the room– it’s going to be hard for most gamers to resist at least trying it. But will they stay? Not all will. Some will miss the beauty of Telara, the game’s community, and all of the user-friendly features.
Some gamers, like myself, will actually be enjoying both games. In cases like this, it’s important to remember that we’re all members of a larger community– a gaming community. We all have particular likes and dislikes, but at the end of the day, we’re all fans hoping to find the perfect virtual world to get lost in. There’s no crime in enjoying and supporting multiple games. It’s my preferred way to game. I’m a fan of the game BioWare has to offer, but I’m also a fan of RIFT for the game it already is. RIFT’s quite a game. And it’s not going anywhere.