Justin from Massively came up with a really good question about why Rift didn’t do better. Quite obviously, I cannot answer this question in general or even for the majority of players and it may even be something different for everybody.
For me, it’s not that hard to answer, actually. I didn’t mind their switch to the free-to-play model. In fact, that’s when I really started playing the game. It was at a time where I couldn’t just afford to pay for two monthly subs (as I’m doing now – for Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft, but not for Rift anymore!). I later paid for a sub for Rift, so for me, it wasn’t about the money in the end. I also never felt that I had to pay a sub to enjoy the game (unlike ESO with the crafting bag).
Before I get into why I stopped actively playing the game, I would like to muse about what I love(d) at first. I played the game during their beta weekends and when it launched, I gave it a try for two months or so. I really loved the dynamic open world experience where you couldn’t even go afk on a road because the NPCs (who come into Telara through rifts) there could take over parts of the map. It really made the world feel so much livelier! I loved and still do love the housing in Rift. None of the MMOs I’ve played (other than maybe Wildstar but I like the graphics better in Rift) ever came close to that quality of housing. When I returned to Rift after it went free to play, the housing system is the one thing I wrote about!
What I always had a hard time understanding was the game’s lore. One faction came from the future… or what was it again? It never even sticked in my brain! I wrote about the game’s basic lore before (just scroll past the short bit about Trove). And then they came with the Nightmare expansion where everything you saw was… a dream? It was confusing and on top of that, so much of the world was underwater. It was all dark and gloomy and that’s not at all what I want in my MMO. Of course, the story itself can be dark and I guess there needs to be a sense of danger around. I personally would rather prefer something like Elder Scrolls Online where there are several main storylines, but nothing that seems so desperate knowing the end of the world is just around the corner.
Also, there were so many areas where people really lived in Rift. The “major cities” of the two factions are a good example. Meridian is supposed to be a city, but it’s actually just one big building. Tempest Bay is better and has some really nice parts, but I only ever really need to be where the crafting dailies are and that’s one tiny bit of the whole place. The rest of Tempest Bay seems dead and I hardly ever see any players there. Compare that to Stormwind or Orgrimmar in World of Warcraft, for example. Or the cities and towns in Elder Scrolls Online that are full of quest givers and stories to explore! Bree in Lord of the Rings Online comes to my mind as well. As lively as the maps are with the dynamic events, this game doesn’t have a world that I want to dive into.
Back to Rift: It does have a lot of lore, so that part isn’t bad at all! It is just that, for reasons I can’t really word properly, I really dislike the lore and don’t feel comfortable playing in that world. With the Nightmare Tide, it became so bad for me, that I really didn’t want to play the game anymore. I levelled one character to the maximum, but that was it. After that, I crawled into my dimensions and just built in them, but didn’t care about the rest of the game anymore. Maybe what I don’t like much about the game can be visualized: This non-combat pet gallery shows what I mean in a way. It is all weird companions, but only very few that look like a “real” animal.
When they released Rift Prime, I hopped back and actively played again, because it was so much fun to relive the base game again where I didn’t dislike the lore as much and my main concern was the lack of living and breathing cities. Now maybe, if the game was to get another expansion and the zones weren’t that… weird… I would play the game again. Maybe.
Same for me, pretty much. The game was at its best in beta, when the invasions were really dangerous. That was quite a new idea at the time. That got toned down immediately after launch but it was still good. The first few weeks were very enjoyable but things began to slde when after the first raid was added. After six months I’d had enough (although these days a straight six-month run in any new MMORPG looks impresive) and I quit, always intending to come back.
The real game-killer was the first expansion. It was terrible. Huge, grindy, dull. I lasted about a week before giving up for the second and final time. The game never really recovered from that expansion, continually shrinking and merging servers until it was all but forgotten, as it is now.
If they’d stuck with the original vision of the turmoil of the invasions and the big open-world rift events they could have been where GW2 is now. Instead, they closed their horizons down and turned Rift into just another not very convincing WoW clone, just as those really went out of fashion.
Oh, reading your comment, I just remembered that the Nightmare expansion brought Nightmare rifts (https://riftgrate.com/guides/open-world/guide-nightmare-rifts/). Those I liked! But in general, my favourite zones are from the vanilla game. I don’t even remember the name of the first expansion… but I also think I skipped it and when I returned to Rift, I just levelled through it as fast as I could.
I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about Rift in beta, but a while after launch when our group went to try it out I definitely took a shine to it. It was a well designed world that made excellent use of space. There wasn’t anything wasted in the world. Everything was close together yet didn’t feel cramped. I ran four characters, one in each of the main trees, up to level cap. That I played a mage class at all, much less one to level cap, says something good about the game.
And then the Storm Legion expansion hit and the design philosophy of the base game had clearly been abandoned. The big brag was that the expansion was multiple times the size of the original, but it was mostly wasted space. It felt like they wanted to slow people’s progression down by making them spend forever traveling. Storm Legion killed whatever momentum the game had. It went from that to free to play and to where it is today.
I might have gotten into the housing more… I wasn’t all that keen on the “build it from scratch” options of the early housing, preferring a structure I can work with and decorate… but the core game wasn’t holding me so I did not stick around.
The dimensions give you a choice. There are only very few that come empty. Most have at least one building in it already. Then you can use furniture that already exists or you can try and build something from scratch. I like that we have both because I want to have something already and expand from there. Here’s an example: https://nerdybookahs.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/my-personal-oasis-in-rift/ – The building itself is in that dimension already. I added the balcony, though.
I don’t even remember the zones in Storm Legion. I just like Tempest Bay and usually had my characters parked there.
The problem is that the first dimension they gave us with Storm Legion wasn’t very good. You got that and a few little bits and pieces and not much else.
And since the expansion didn’t hold me, I didn’t go looking much beyond that.
I remember standing in that little place and going: Oooh, pretty! And I couldn’t wait to add more stuff in there. – I never did, though, because I soon saw that there were bigger dimensions that I would rather want to work with. :p But yeah, the expansion itself… I only remember that I liked one part of the storyline or a storyline in one of the zones. Other than that, I was just hoping to finally get to max. level, so I could do other things again.
Rift I ended up bouncing on during the early betas, but really coming to appreciate and love a bit later in it’s life. Like you, I also had no issue with the flip to F2P and in fact that initial period of transition is likely when I played most heavily (and continued subscribing, even).
Every once in a (long) while, I poke my head back in for another look and see if the new owners have decided to treat it with any kind of respect. And at least as of the last few times — that appears not to be the case and there hasn’t really been much to pull me back.
There is still at least one expansion though that I think I haven’t done yet. I (basically) finished the Nightmare expansion with the elemental plane zones, and while I didn’t mind the aesthetic of some of those zones so much — the *intense* time to level and grind to get through them certainly was a factor in my dwindling interest at the time!
In the beginning of my “prime time” in Rift, I couldn’t decide which class to play and I kept switching between warrior, mage and cleric… with time, I played my cleric only and couldn’t bring myself to level another character through the content. It was boring. So yeah… too boring, too grindy.
Gamigo hasn’t done anything with Rift other than releasing new Battle Passes. No thanks. Also, if a game developer keeps asking for money, I actually expect to see development and new content (Battle Pass does not count as new content because there’s no new CONTENT). If that is the case, I happily give them money. But not like that. I did think about getting back to Rift, though, in order to work on my main dimension again. But whenever I do log in, I just feel sad that the game is basically dead.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comments are closed.