It seems the self-sacrifice that EuroGamer made for the good of our community is being forgotten, and it’s getting embarrassing. It’s been just over two years since the infamous “5 minute MMO review”, and yet here we are today, with people passing judgment and making sweeping statements about an MMO based on limited experience, and doing so without a smirk or heavy use of sarcasm. It’s kinda sad really.
In addition to misguided ‘opinions’, there are other factors at work here. In MMO releases past, the tourist population was always thriving, and so it was a guarantee that whatever your numbers in the first month, the second month they would be drastically lower. It helped that most of those MMOs were also flawed in one way or another, but the true tourist would have returned home regardless. Many of those players today are not looking like tourists though, and we mostly have WoW’s Cata to thank for that (EVE tourists would be the most rampant if EVE had 12m subs, as almost all EVE players eventually return home, but with 350k or so subs they are not that noticeable. That they are also not as obnoxious as WoW players helps too).
Back when WAR was released, WoW was ready with WotLK, and many who went over to WAR knew they were coming back. WoW itself was also not in the shape it’s in now, as things had not begun to seriously deteriorate during the BC era. The C team that ‘updates’ WoW now has done a fine job setting the stage for Rift. Why, it’s almost 2004 EQ2-like in nature. Who would have ever imagined Blizzard would ‘borrow’ that strategy from SOE.
And much like WoW’s original perfect-storm release, outside factors have shaped up nicely for Rift. WoW has never been lower, the response to Rift is to re-released more rehashed content ‘soon’ (and not even originally excellent content like Nax), and any potential AAA contenders (GW2, SW:sRPG) are a ways off. Factor in that everyone else in the themepark genre is either spinning in circles or playing in the F2P minors, and it might as well be 2004 all over again, with the crown sitting on a pedestal begging someone to put it on.
Then there is the product itself, so familiar yet clearly able to confuse those who just quickly glanced. Take, for instance, invasions. To the EG review crowd, they are simplistic events that require nothing more than showing up to collect some loot, and this is very much the case in the first zone. Because, well, it’s the first zone and it’s just an intro to the game. If that was all invasions were for 50 levels that would be pretty weak. If that’s all they are for the newbie zone, yea, that’s pretty understandable (and you would not want lvl 35 complexity invasions beating up on level 10 players anyway) WoW conditioning has, unfortunately, taught many that what you do at level one is what you will be doing until you hit the cap and start the ‘real’ game. Fixing that terrible design decision is seemingly incomprehensible to many, yet that’s exactly what Rift has done.
Which is not to say you can’t faceroll your way to 50, solo, without interacting once with another player. That option exists, and while for an MMO fan it’s about as fun or interesting as punching yourself in the face, lots of WoW players love the abuse. It’s not entirely their fault either, they simply don’t know any better after having been in Azeroth for so long. But the option existing is very different from it being the optimal path, which it certainly is not. Later invasions require solid coordination, running instances at or slightly below level can be a very worthwhile challenge, and tackling rifts in a small group requires more than drooling on your keyboard as well. People who have reached 50 also report that in addition to being plentifully, the end-game content is a very solid challenge.
It’s almost like Trion build Rift knowing the common pitfalls of an MMO, and had the time/resources to figure them out, plus the talent to actually do it right. Kinda like, oh, in 2004 when WoW fixed many of EQ1’s shortfalls, delivered a game of an above-level quality for games at that time, and had the talent/resources to keep the momentum going.
Finally, one has to ask why Rift is causing so much angst for those who are not playing. When Darkfall gets hated on, it’s more understandable, as carebears have a natural fear of PvP MMOs and anytime one pops up they can’t help themselves. God forbid a sandbox gets popular enough to influence changes in themepark land; scary! But Rift is very much a non-threatening themepark, so why the hate?
My guess is that for many, they are seeing guild members log in to their old game less and less, perhaps only to show up for pre-planned events like raids. The rest of the time, they are playing Rift. While silly, that builds a certain animosity in those who are not yet ready to leave their current home, either because they can’t (weak hardware, no money, whatever), or their EG experience with Rift was not mind-blowing and they believe the game to be just another quick trip away from Azeroth. That Rift is not frontloaded like WAR or AoC is likely a factor, and like games of old, it takes more than a glance to see all of its depth and innovation (of which it has plenty, you just never saw it in beta). That’s tough for the one-month-and-done tourist crowd to grasp.
Plus, facts ruin so many good rants.