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So, these are my first impressions. My experience may change later, but thus far these are my thoughts. I think first impressions matter a lot (at least to me). Its like a book. If I pickup a book and bored as heck or the book has no point in the first few chapters...I probably just will put it down and move on to the next book. Granted, the book may have a bad start and end up being good or have a good start and end up being bad...but point remains.
The first experience I ever had with Rift was in the last stage of beta. I liked it, but I never really got into it...but I generally never get attached to betas...but even when Rift was released, I was playing other MMOs/games at the time. Don't think I particularly liked it for whatever reason...not enough to get it at release anyway.
So... I am on the 20 level trial. I'm not limited to the trial, I have a free Rift copy that comes with 30 days...I just want to wait a bit to use it when my character is ready to move on. I'm on the US RP-PvE server, which has a rather good community.
My very first impression was that questing seemed more streamlined...smooth. It feels different in some way compared to beta. My rogue's combat also seems a lot better than I remember it being too, but I may remember wrong...since beta was a while ago. It seems a lot better though, in response and animation and what not. It feels really smooth.
(note: not my experience, but a good friend of mine and he sent me a screencap of the chat)...he contacted customer support because he chose the wrong server. Guess he was on a trial shard or something, and thought that was what he had to choose since he was on a trial account...not sure 100% of the details. Anyway, literally 3-5 minutes later a GM contacted him and fixed him up. On top of that, the GM had quite good humor. My friend was in an area where he was far underleveled and he asked how he would get back to the low level area. The Gm said "Run. Forrrrest. Run!"...I thought that was funny :P Different than how a lot of GMs act.
Now, I don't really want this to turn into a debate of x game is better than y game. But they are kind of similar in mechanics in the way they have dynamic events. I won't name said game, but it should be rather obvious. So in game Y (that I played to mid levels and then quit in disgust), I thought dynamic events would be way better...and actually dynamic. But in the end, I never felt like it mattered if I had to do the events or not. I could run right by, and they would have no effect on the world. If they did, the event would reset in 15 minutes. And if I did do a dynamic event and succeeded in the event...it would reset really fast and...yeah. In the end, they weren't even dynamic. When I quit in disgust, was around level 40...I saw in chat "5 minutes to dragon spawn!"...and even before in the starter area "10 minutes to wasp queen! all meet up! good loot and exp!"...should have really been the first clue. I pretty much quit when I realized everything was on an exact timer, and nothing I did actually mattered.
But in Rift...it feels way more dynamic. For one, it feels a lot more random overall. At least first impressions that is, which can be better said than game Y. And, if the players don't clear out a zone, more and more rifts spawn. Like I logged on this morning, and there was rifts and invasions and footholds all over the place. Then a huge water invasion happened...felt very hectic and like I actually had to help push back the invasion. The whole zone was affected, and people were going around killing invasions and closing Rifts. But even when there isn't a major zone invasion happening, Rift dynamic events feel way more exciting than anything in the other game...it feels intense all the time and feels like I actually make a difference. Plus, the rifts seem to have random locations they appear and at random times...so they are actually dynamic.
The water invasion really sold me in my first impressions. So much fun.
But there is also lots to do. Crafting is kinda basic and I would say its a negative...its pretty much like WoW crafting but slightly better. Not the best crafting I've seen. And the Defiant city is rather small...and the world seems kind of small (judging by the map and what I've seen). But I guess its...make a huge world with little in it...or a small world but lots to do and see. Guess pros/cons to each.
There is however a lot of artifacts and secrets to find. Even minipets and stuff for housing. Which speaking of housing...
Don't have much knowledge of the talent system. But at least they didn't remove 99% of the talent system and call it "NEW AND IMPROVED! BEST talent system we ever made! now with only 6 choices!"...there is a lot of choices in Rift. Especially with the way you can have three classes at once.
Housing is almost a 100% take from Free Realm's housing. Feels like an exact clone even with the way you can move objects and what not, but feels a bit more involved in Rift. Not that its a bad thing...FR has a rather nice housing system. But it doesn't seem to really serve as a point...and it doesn't really change gameplay. However, having a house and a plot of land is a nice addition. I really miss housing when they aren't included. And on the RP server I'm on, a lot of RP events seem to take place in the dimensions (housing)...so there is that. I guess its nice to decorate and as a side thing, but its not a game changer. Unless there is chests you can get to store stuff...that would make it rather way more useful. I haven't really got far into the housing stuff.
Some negatives. First, when the water invasion happened...my FPS went from 60, all the way to in the 20s...my PC is sort of med-high end range...but I guess there was just tons going on. Either that or it was server/region lagged from everything happening. It didn't lock up or jump around, it just went into this slow motion animations. I was part of another invasion (toward the end of it) shortly after arriving in the main area after the starter place...and my FPS didn't drop at all. But the invasion didn't seem to be as big. So not sure what was up with that.
There are fishing bots. Trion hasn't announced or done anything with them. The first thing I saw when I reached the ocean in that one coastal village was a group of level 1 fishing bots. People in local chat were complaining about them and said they had been there for 3 days doing nothing but fishing. How did they even get there at level 1? you end up at like level 6 or 7 by the time you leave the starting area...and that is in a seperate area. If Trion doesn't do anything about them, that is pretty much nail in the coffin (for me). There is nothing worse than seeing a bunch of bots and a company not doing anything about them. The game can be the greatest thing, and if a company allows bots, doesn't matter...I will never touch said game. So hopefully they actually do something about them or/and announce something.
To sum my first impressions up: Housing a nice addition, not a game changer. But a MMO (to me) feels lacking without housing. Lots to do while leveling. Lots of secrets to find...shinies! Dynamic events actually feel dynamic and have a purpose. Dynamic events are very exciting, even the smaller rifts. And the major zone wide invasions are just epic.
However some lag in the really big invasions. And a huge negative that Trion (thus far) hasn't done anything about the fishing bots, even if they've been reported by a lot of people. But guess it remains to be seen if they act or let them bot.
And so that is my first impressions