Rift Prime – Update

It has been sixty days since the launch of RIFT Prime. As promised, I’m here with an update and to share my thoughts on the state of this “progression server” experiment.

Since my last post, not a whole lot has changed in the world of RIFT Prime. Trion Worlds really seems to be taking the progression aspect at a fairly casual pace. Since the launch of the Prime server in March, a few expert dungeons, slivers and raids have been added. The “Battle for Port Scion” PVP area is now accessible, and some additional quests are now playable. RIFT’s first free expansion area “Ember Isle” is still inaccessible at the time of this writing.

The rollout of content seems just a tad slower than what I expected. Considering that the Prime experiment is supposed to last for one year, we are now two months in and have yet to see any major new additions. At this point, the majority of the playerbase for Prime has reached level 50. It won’t be long before most players grow tired of the same endgame raids and begin turning their attention elsewhere. I have to admit, I’ve personally lost nearly all interest in the game. Few of the players I met back in March are still logging in regularly and rarely will a glance at the public chat reveal anything other than trolling or mindless guild recruiting.

I think the thing I found most disappointing was the lack of World Events. Particularly some of the one-time events like “River of Souls“. Sure, I participated in these on the live version of RIFT back in the day, but I hoping for a chance to see them again. Trion has now come forward and admitted that it would take too much effort to reactivate these types of events with the modern version of the game. Disappointing.

For me, this version of RIFT is interesting, but it does not live up to the hype. For an example of a progression server done right, I’d suggest Trion Worlds take a peek at the latest Everquest vanilla server. The pacing and the content seem much more in line with what players are craving. I only hope that Blizzard is watching too. Their World of Warcraft progression-server is just around the corner and I’d hate to see it grind to an early death by a delayed roll-out schedule.

So for now, I’m going to officially end my RIFT Prime participation once my initial 90 days subscription ends. I was hoping to recapture the magic that once hooked me on this game. But in the end it seemed to fizzle out.

 

RIFT Prime: Launch

RIFT Prime is here! As previously mentioned on this site, Trion Worlds has launched a vanilla/progression server for their Free-to-Play MMO RIFT. Having played the original game at launch, I decided to check out this experimental server to see if I could recapture the magic that I felt during the game’s release. I’ve now spent a whole week on the Vigil server and I’m here to share my initial thoughts.

First, let’s talk a bit about what exactly RIFT Prime is. RIFT Prime is a special “progression” version of RIFT. This version of the game is restricted to a single server. Unlike the main game, which is Free-to-Play, Prime requires a subscription. (Just like the original version of RIFT did). For the most part, the content in Prime will mirror that of the vanilla version of RIFT. However, some quality of life improvements from the current game will carry over. The RIFT Prime server is expected to last for approximately a year before characters created there are transitioned to the main game. As time goes on, content from RIFT’s version updates and expansions will be added, but at an accelerated rate. The idea is, to allow players to start fresh and be fully caught up with the live version of RIFT by the end of the Prime server’s lifespan. It is currently unclear if Trion will enable the special World Event content that followed RIFT’s original patches and version updates on the Prime server. We shall see.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve played RIFT. I noticed right away that the game is now downloaded through Trion’s GLYPH launcher. Downloading GLYPH and installing the game proved to be no trouble whatsoever. However, as expected there was a considerable queue to actually log into the game on day one. Thankfully, this tapered off after the first few days.

Being back in RIFT and seeing it just like I remember was a bit of a surreal experience.  With the exception of some UI changes and being automatically placed in a “starter guild”, almost everything was just like it was the first time around. Sadly, one notable exception to this is the maturity level of the public chat channel. Trolling and outright trash-talking are unfortunately all too common in MMO games. But they tend to not be as bad when content is stuck behind a pay wall. I was shocked at the number of obvious trolls and the immaturity level of the public chat once I emerged from the starting area. It was just as bad as anything you’d find on a free-to-play game.

Social complaints aside, my biggest gripe thus far with the game has been the handling of previous purchases. For the sake of this progression server, Trion Worlds has locked existing players out from their previous account-wide purchases. Meaning, if you have any RIFT Store or Collectors Edition mounts, pets, costumes, etc on your account – they are not accessible in RIFT Prime. I don’t have a problem with this move, in itself. But, what Trion has done is made many some of the old CE mounts and pets available for sale on RIFT Prime store. Now, if the idea behind this is simply to allow new players starting in Prime a way to add these vanity items to their collection, that’s fine with me. But, if it is being done as a way to tempt existing players to spend real money on loot that they’ve actually already bought… that’s a problem. Already I’ve talked to several players who already own the Ancient Tartagon mount on their main account and are planning on shelling out real money to buy the same mount again. Why?

The problem is compounded by the fact that Trion has not been very transparent about what exactly is going to happen when RIFT Prime ends. At that time, when our Prime characters are moved over to RIFT Live, will our old account-wide purchases than be unlocked? If so, it’s a bit of a non-issue. But still, why not be clear about this up front?

The one good thing about this Prime version of RIFT is that there is no Pay-to-Win items available in the store. Everything for sale on the Prime Store is either vanity or account related. This is a move that I approve of. I sank enough money into RIFT back in the day before it went Free-to-Play that I don’t really plan on spending a lot, if any, in the Prime store. So far, the only purchase I’ve made was the Progenitor Pack. This optional purchase grants you a total of sixty days subscription time, a special mount, vanity cloak, title, and portrait frame. If you plan on paying the subscription for a few months, this pack pays for itself.

As far the game itself goes, I’ve actually had a blast playing through all of the early content and quests. RIFT is a faction-based MMO. This means that all players are split into one of two factions. These two teams compete against each other for control of the gameworld. In the Live version of RIFT, I always played as a Defiant. So, for this outing I decided to go with the Guardian faction. There’s just something about the aesthetics of the Guardian starting areas that I enjoy. They have a more “fantasy” feel to them and they are lovely to look at.

The first few days of RIFT Prime saw a slew of activity in these areas. Rifts were being taken down in record time, as were zone events and elite monsters. It felt very nostalgic to see so many players actually “playing the game” in these locations. Flash forward to a week later, and the population has already evened out a bit. But, there’s still more than enough players around to get things done.

Due to time constraints and having to multi-task between various games, it took me a little over a week to reach the Guardian capital. This city serves as the central hub for pretty much the rest of the game. I’m unsure at what pace Trion plans on adding new content to Prime. But I’ll be sure to provide updates at the “progression” continues.

 

 

 

RIFT Prime

Several years ago, I made a two-part post on this site regarding my experience with various MMOs. ( You can read them using the following links:  Rise of MMOs part 1 & Rise of the MMOs part 2 ). In these articles I elaborated a bit on some of the multiplayer online games I’ve tinkered with over the years. One of the games I touched on in that post was RIFT. RIFT was a game that I got to experience from day one. I played it well into its second expansion. RIFT was released during the time between the original version of Final Fantasy XIV and A Realm Reborn. During this lull, I found myself in search of a new MMO, RIFT was the obvious choice.

At release, RIFT borrowed very heavily from World of Warcraft in terms of design and playstyle. But it presented a world all it’s own. One of the more unique features of RIFT are…. rifts. Rifts are essentially random portal/events that pop up in the open world. Some rifts are more frequent than others and the appearance of a rare one would often result in players stopping what they were doing to come participate.

I have fond memories of very first point release for the game. There was a server-wide special event that occurred as the evil goddess descended to do battle against players. It was exciting, yet very flawed. The servers had a hard time keeping up with the load and as result, many players found themselves unable to participate in the event. This resulted in many people missing out on one-of-a-kind achievements and titles. The community was livid. The mismanagement of the event saw the first mass exodus of RIFT players.

One of my fondest memories of the game was participating in the first ever Extra Life event. This was a special marathon session where gamers would accept pledges for charity and play RIFT for twenty four hours straight. We played alongside with the game developers and even earned special titles and rewards.  Good times.

The early days of RIFT were lots of fun. As time went by, things started to settle down and as happens with most new MMOs, players began to migrate elsewhere. Trion Worlds, the developers of RIFT, tried to keep things interesting by releasing free content and new paid expansions. But after a while, RIFT’s population took a major hit. Eventually, the game moved to a Free-to-Play model. It was during that time that I finally said my farewell.

These days, RIFT thrives as a F2P game, but it is barely recognizable to old players like me. Even if I wanted to try to get back into it, I’d be completely lost. That’s why the rumors that Trion was going to introduce a classic version of the game caught my attention. It wasn’t long before I realized that the rumors were actually true, RIFT Prime was happening!

This version of RIFT launched on 3/7/2018. Like the original, it will only be available by subscription and will start out with the vanilla version of the game (but, with many of the modern quality of life enhancements). It’s going to be handled in a progression format, but at an accelerated rate. You’ll be able to relive all of the content patches from day one, up to the modern version of the game. Eventually, the RIFT Prime experiment will end, and you’ll be able to import your character to the regular version of the game.

I find this entire concept very appealing and I’ve decided to participate. It has been many years since I last set foot in the world of Telara. Tonight, I’ll be taking my first step back in. As a result, I’ll be posting my progress on this site.

UPDATES

March 2018 – Launch

May 2018 – Update

Rise of the MMOs – Part 2

rift_collectors-edition

So far, I’ve discussed a few of the early MMOs that I have had personal experience with. Of course, for every one I’ve played, there’s many more that I haven’t played. Most the games I’ve mentioned have been successful. But of course, what happens to an online game when it is NOT successful? Think about it for a moment. MMO games are, well, Online. If the game does not do well, there’s a good chance that the company behind it may pull the plug. And if the servers go off, so does the game. What happens to that $50 you spent on the retail box, do you get it back? Of course not. This is the risk of gaming online.

There have been several popular titles that have experienced just this very thing. Some of them like The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa, and Star Wars: Galaxies did in fact go dark. Usually, when this occurs, the game developers attempt to have some sort of a sunset period that allows some closure for the players both in terms of storyline and player satisfaction. Others developers just pull the plug on a specified date and that’s it. The later is exactly what is happening to players of Sony’s Wizardry Online and Vanguard titles.

The first failed MMO game that I was follower of was the original version of Final Fantasy XIV.

Boss battle for Final Fantasy XIV version 1.0

Square Enix, the company behind the Final Fantasy series nearly destroyed their reputation with the original release of Final Fantasy XIV. Riding off of the success of their first online game, Final Fantasy XI, the company was admittedly lazy with their second online offering.

The game was beautiful, there’s no doubt about that. But upon release there was almost literally nothing to do. The game had very little content. On top of that, poor backend engineering led to server problems and a number of lag and congestion issues. The game featured a flawed combat system and the design of the gameworld was both repetitive and confusing for players. The title was almost universally condemned by both players and critics alike. As a fan of the series, even I stopped playing in those very early days and turned my attention towards other games.

Backed into a corner, it seemed obvious that Square Enix was going to pull the plug on the game. But instead, they replaced the game’s lead producer and made a startling announcement, something that no game developer had dared do before: they were going to scrap the existing code and rebuild the game from the ground up. And they did just that.

While keeping the service active, and attempting to improve the quality of life for current players, the developers were busy behind the scenes creating an entirely new game engine and content for a relaunch. This is something that normally take an average of five years, Square Enix managed to deliver the final product in just two. Upon its re-release, Final Fantasy XIV was a massive success. It is also my current MMO of choice.

A panned out view of combat from Final Fantasy XIV 2.0

During my stint away from those troubled early days of FFXIV, I found myself seduced by a game known as RIFT. This title, in many ways is very much a World of Warcraft clone. I say this in terms of gameplay, not so much in a storytelling and art direction. But really, that’s ok. RIFT had my attention pretty heavily for several months, but once I reached the endgame content, I found myself bored with it. Apparently, I was not alone. As the game’s population dwindled and profits started to sink, there was much concern over the fate of the game. To resolve this, RIFT switched from a subscription based model to a Free-to-Play model. This has appeared to work very well for the game. Although, I do not play RIFT anymore, I’m glad to see that it did not end up being just another game on the list of deactivated MMO titles.

This same scenario occurred for another very popular title, the long awaited Star Wars: The Old Republic.

SWTOR

From the beginning, Star Wars: The Old Republic looked doomed to fail. The game had been in development for many years and the hype surrounding the title had reached epic proportions. I mean, who does’t love Star Wars? Everyone wanted to play this game. It was supposed to the Warcraft-Killer. I think maybe we expected too much. Signs of concern started even before the game was released. The game came with a premium pricetag both for the standard and the collector’s edition. On top of that, for the first time the Collector’s version of the game seemed to offer more than just a few vanity items. The CE actually featured a whole in-game vendor with a stock of gear only available to those willing to pay the extra money for a special edition of the game. Upon release, the game featured a very rich experience at the beginning, but for players who rushed to reach the endgame content, there was little there. Rather than fail, Star Wars also switched to a Free-to-Play model. However, unlike RIFT, some of the business decisions for SWTOR drew heavy criticism. For example, certain content is locked out for free players. Even some UI elements are unavailable unless you’re willing to pay a little extra. Regardless of these issues, the game does seem to be thriving under its current pricing model. Now… if only I could get that $200 back that I spent on the original Collector’s Edition…

So what’s the next for MMO gaming? As I type this, everyone is keeping a close eye on The Elder Scrolls Online. At this very moment, the game is currently in its Early Access phase. The game goes live for all players on 4/4/14.

The Elder Scrolls is a well respected and loved series of single player RPG games. So its only natural to want to extend that to an online world. Personally, I hope the game is successful. I have purchased the game, and I plan to begin getting my feet wet this evening. But despite my anticipation, the warning signs are already showing…

The Elder Scrolls Online

I participated in the beta test, and much like the original launch of FFXIV, the beta version of the game felt VERY incomplete. Yes, I realize that a beta test is just that, and early TEST. But trust me, there’s some things that should be fully working. I encountered frequent disconnects, incomplete textures and other strange issues during the test. Also, there’s again concerns with this game’s Collector’s Edition. Whereas SWOTR offered a CE exclusive vendor, TESO is offering a whole playable race that’s only available to CE purchasers.

I’m very curious to see what happens with this game. So instead of being an observer, I’ve decided to do an experiment. I’m going to use this blog to chronicle my thoughts on the game. I’m not a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls. I purchased the series Anthology but I’ve only logged a few hours into the most recent entry; Skyrim. I really like what I’ve seen of the series and I do plan to catch up in the near future. But for the time being, I’m a rookie. So to me, this is going to be a whole new experience.

I’m going to approach the game with an open mind and I’m going to try my best to set aside any expectations and pre-conceived notions I may have. The game comes with a free thirty days. I’m going to take advantage of the time and then make note of my observations. If this interests you, please look forward to the posts.