OK, in case it wasn't obvious by my last posts I became enamoured of Rift. I absolutely love the game and took a vacation day on Friday to play.
The first problem which is a carryover from Thursday headstart launch was that most of the servers were full, users would have to queue to get into the game. Trion was very diligent in deploying new servers and allowing new players to get into the game quickly. The only issue was on those servers that were identified by the user base as being the prime servers. These servers were chosen by a large amount of guilds as their playground and I'm sure a lot of players decided they wanted to play on a popular server. There have been many complaints but in most cases the player was rebuked by the community at large who pointed out that there are servers that are not full and without queues available to them.
On the positive side the game is as smooth if not smoother than beta, the gameplay is still as fun as I remember and the development team is responsive and helpful. One thing that struck me is that this game seemed to strike a chord with me, I seemed to be more thoroughly entertained by a game than ever before. It made me wonder what they did in this game that was different or better than the current king of the MMO world, so here are my thoughts on that matter.
Richard Bartle broke down rpg gamers into four psychological types: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Killers. His article can be found here: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm
Achievers regard rising in levels and overcoming the game as their main goal
Explorers love to wander and discover previously undiscovered areas of the game
Socializers are interested in people, and what they have to say
Killers get their kicks from imposing themselves on others
Most MMOs attempt to satisfy each type of gamer and each player archetypes have some form of support. The real question is how well each type of player is supported and how each type of play has been "incentivized". Please remember that pretty much everyone is a combination of all four types, desiring some form of each playstyle in their game. Rift seems to have managed to support each type of player pretty well. I was going to try and describe the pros of Rift, but in order to contrast the statement I'll have to compare to the current king MMO, WoW.
When the game was first release WoW took the existing MMO model and "perfected" it. They streamlined the questing so that a person didn't have to stumble upon a quest or at the very least have a list of key words to say to an NPC for them to let you know what you needed to do for them. They also created the "list" of quests in your quest log that you are currently working on. There were probably many other improvements made to the MMO genre, these are just a few that came to mind. WoW was made for all of the player archetypes, each type seemed to be well represented. Over time though WoW has reduced the amount of satisfaction given to a few of the archetypes.
Rift has has built upon the user experience that players got in WoW, and perfected the way the different player archetypes were supported. Explorers are given artifacts to find as well as puzzles in the open world and other hidden caches of items. And as any new MMO the ability to discover a new world for yourself feeds the explorer. For the achiever rift has a common achievment system where a player gets credit for doing something first as well as completing all of the quests in a given area. Players are also given access to titles if particular questlines are completed and I'm sure there are other achievment based items that I can't recall at the moment. The game provides standard MMO socialization as well a newer mechanic to support socialization with their rift events and public groups, apparently this type of system was used in Warhammer Online, I never played that game. And the killers are supported by the contested areas after lvl 20 as well as warfronts which are team based PvP instances that have a winning condition.
In conclusion Trion has put together a solid fun game here, almost everything I've read has been positive. They appear to be responsive to game issues and have done a very good job managing this rollout.
My next post might touch on what Blizzard did wrong since the beginning.