Having pre-ordered so I could try the beta, I spent a lot of time playing Rift this weekend. It was a surprising amount of fun, even with only two starting areas that I spent a lot of time in trying out different race/class/soul combinations.
It’s very pretty, although the lack of antialiasing is criminal (hopefully this will be added later in the beta). There is also unfortunately a lack of pretty and/or sexy armour, at least at low level. Granted, if I was actually in combat with a bunch of testosterone-laced, over-muscled types swinging giant swords, I’d want to be wearing something really substantial. In a game, however? Wardrobe is important. Chainmail bikinis aside, why can’t casters wear a wispy dancer’s outfit? I’m not any more protected in a brown sack of a robe, and I feel a hell of a lot less sexy. Hmmph.
Rift action was tons of fun…as long as you had enough people with you to successfully shut them down. They are a bit like the Public Quests in Warhammer, except that it doesn’t automatically put you in a group (hint: it should). With enough people, it’s a good fight and you can earn some very nice gear for your level. Without enough people, and you either die damned quickly, or you hide behind a tree like a little wussy and run off as quick as you can. This was a problem in Warhammer – great fun after launch, but once people had levelled out of that area, you were faced with grinding through the initial stages very slowly by yourself and skipping the final boss.
Everything seems to be pretty standard, which is fine with me. I really hate games that try to change things just to be different than Warcraft. Why shouldn’t you always be able to hit “M” and open your map? It’s stupid to use anything else. The game was virtually glitch-free for me, and even with tons of people around the rift it seemed stable even at very low framerates. (That is the only time I experienced lag or low framerate, to be honest.) Very good experience all around.
Character creation was nice, although I would have liked to be able to choose different body types. There were sliders for facial features, and you could set colours for most things. I prefer to have total control over my character, and I can play for hours with a really good character creation screen, but this was ok.
The soul system was interesting, and allowed customisation of playstyle. My favourite was a cleric, a Purifier/Sentinel/Warden combo. (At 17, I haven’t put many points in Warden, as it seemed fairly weak.) I was trying for a straight healing build…and was surprised at how much sheer dps she could do. Very nice soloing build, and a lot of fun to play.
One of the strange things is that it seems impossible to take a screenshot. I know that people are using Fraps to take screenshots, and I do have a copy of the software…but it seems silly to not have screenshot functionality built in. I even tried doing an Alt+Printscreen and pasting it into Photoshop…no luck. Very strange, and more than a bit infuriating.
Overall, a very nice game, very polished and a lot of fun. It’s just a terrible, terrible shame that it’s a subscription game.