Blizzard Feel Free to “Rift” Some New Ideas

So it is no secret that I am participating in the Rift beta. The fact is I enter every major AAA MMO beta if for no other reason than to see what Blizzard’s competition has going for it in order to size up their chances. I will be covering this much more in depth in episode # 5 of the Horde For Life podcast, but I wanted to put out a quick post with my initial and very high level thoughts.

1. Polish – Simply put, Rift is a very polished game. I would posit that Rift at this stage of beta is in far better shape in terms of polish and feature sets than any recent MMO launched this side of Warcraft.

2. Game Play – Critics will say that Rift is just a Warcraft clone and to a degree that is an accurate statement. However I hope Blizzard does not fall into that trap because while Rift has copied many aspects of Warcraft (as have most all of WoW’s competitors), the fact remains that enough of the game is different to make it a threat. The best analogy I can provide is to say that if you are automotive company and you want to make a competitor to the Chevrolet Corvette, despite your efforts to be different you are probably still going to put the steering wheel and gas pedals in the same place, right?

3. Talents and Class Combination – Trion has implemented what may possibly be the deepest set of talent trees (called Soul Trees) which have almost unlimited diversity. Want a pet for your shield and plate wearing tank? Done. Would you like a Mage that can also heal? Possible. The combination possibilities are vast and a departure from what most games offer. It remains to be seen if balance will be an issue, but it appears that Trion is not only expecting imbalance but they appear to embrace it as part of the game. Interesting indeed.

4. Innovation – Finally, for all the “sameness” in terms of mechanics that Rift has mimicked, there is some innovation at hand. Just one of those cool new innovations is the Guild Banner mechanic which lets you provide your guild members (yes all of them) the ability to be summoned to your location… talk about calling in the calvary!

The game is not perfect and I am certainly not calling it a WoW killer, but this game at launch will be a more viable threat to Warcraft than perhaps Warhammer of Age of Conan ever were. I will cover more in future posts and on the podcast so stay tuned.

Talk about a cloudy day!

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