Keep it rolling, Trion.

19 01 2012

This made me very happy to see today; Trion is apparently doing a-okay.

If you  haven’t tried Rift, you should give it a whirl. It is not a WoW-clone, as the mindless haters and mischief makers would have you believe. Sure, it has quest content and the holy trinity; you know, that’s how genres work.

The game is entirely based around “rifting”: dynamic co-operative game play.  You’re questing, or pvping, or just hanging out, when all of a sudden a Rift pops open nearby or over your head. Now, you can choose to ignore it…or maybe nobody’s there. In which case, the Rift will produce mobs to both protect it and to run off and create other spawn points. Which, if given enough time, will become fortified with more mobs. Who also spread. Like a virus. Their favorite thing to do is kill off the npcs at a quest hub and make it their own spawning zone. They’ll even invade larger settlements and cities which – if not defended – will become cesspools of angry rift-born monsters.

You, as a player, are always a party of one. That party is by default public. I can target you, click a button, and join  your party; now we’re a party. If two or more public parties with two or more members get close enough, they automatically merge (during a rift event) into a larger party.

The organic nature of this only really comes to light during a major rift event. A large number of rifts will simultaneously open across a zone, spitting out bad guys; the players have a certain amount of time to close them all (before losing the event). If they succeed, two or three mini-bosses will spawn at different spots across the zone…where players converge (and then, very often, merge into larger parties) to deal with these mini-bosses. Bigger, badder rifts, perhaps another “wave of minibosses”, until – finally – a level-appropriate outdoor raid boss drops. Now, by this point, wayward players that were just questing on their own have been rolled into a snowballing raid party, and – together – they engage the raid boss.

It was seamless and brilliant. I’ve not seen such cooperative game play facilitation, other than Left 4 Dead. Co-op is required to succeed in Rift, so they built the game around it. It sounds like a zerg-fest, but in my experience the opposite was true. Mini-bosses and bosses would spawn adds which needed to be dealt with and – especially at mid to higher levels – players would work together to kite, off-tank, and take them down, while several particularly beefy party members would fight for threat on the main boss. It’s certainly in-part due to the community (which, back when I was playing, on my server, was quite good) but the game facilitates it in a way I hadn’t seen before.

WoW has a LFG tool so you can roller coaster your way through instances. I guess that’s kind of the same. (Sarcasm.) WoW actually tried something like that way back with the original introduction of Naxx. Remember those zombies everywhere? Yea, they never did that again. Trion built an entire game on the idea.

It’s a lot of fun; I recommend it. A game need not be as big as WoW or TOR to be fun. I promise.

And, man, am I happy to see they’re still making money.

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