If you read my last post, you may have come away with the thought that I ended up disappointed in Rift. To the contrary, I think Rift is the apex of post-2004 ‘WoW-Style’ MMOs. I think Trion did a fantastic job with almost all aspects of Rift, while staying pretty much within the standard quest-hub leveling, raid endgame style of MMOs that we have all seen since the launch of WoW in 2004.
Indeed, Rift has everything one could want in a themepark MMO of this style. The questing is standard MMO fare, the raids are at least as good as WoW, the instances are fun and plentiful, the graphics are solid. To top it off, Trion is, without a doubt, able to get new content into the game faster than any other developers around right now. The amount of content they have gotten into the game since release is astounding. Simply astounding.
Trion was able to create a MMO that check marked all the proper boxes (questing, raids, instances, battlegrounds, crafting, dailies etc.) while adding some unique twists of their own (Rifts, Raid Rifts, PvP Rifts, Instant Action etc.). I don’t think there is another themepark MMO out there that has as much pure value as Rift does. If I was recommending a MMO to someone who had never played a themepark MMO before, I would recommend Rift. Its quite simple the best themepark style MMO out right now.
I will continue to play Rift for quite a while, even after GW2 releases. I still find the game fun and Trion is one of the few MMO devs that actually deserves to be supported. They are a fantastic, hard-working company that seems to care about the product they are releasing and the fans who are buying it.
Trion certainly did not turn the themepark MMO world on its head when they released Rift. It is too similar to other MMOs to be truly unique but they did create a very feature rich, quality MMO in its own right. Which brings me to the polar opposite new release MMO: SW:ToR.
A few days ago I mentioned that I was going to enjoy the inevitable fail of Star Wars: The Old Republic and, of course, I had a few people on Facebook and such asking me exactly how I could think that a game that sold as many copies as SWToR could fail. Quite simply, I believe it failed before it was even released.
Bioware took a mediocre single player game and tacked on a 2004-era MMO on to it and called it done. The story told in SWToR is okay, I guess, though somewhat hokey and gets less compelling as the levels wear on. The vaunted cut-scenes get old very fast and are skipped more often than not. The story is certainly not enough to sustain long-term interest. To hold a MMO player for any length of time you need a compelling end game and SWToR does not have that at all.
Matter of fact, if you take the cut scenes out of ToR, you would have a MMO that would be regarded as laughable at best. Very few features, mediocre instances and raids, boring combat, laughably balanced PvP, snoozefest crafting. Everything about ToR in regards to the actual MMO side is horribly done but because its tacked on to a Bioware single player story it was overlooked…..at least at first.
That is quickly changing. The general dissatisfaction with ToR is starting to border on hate among most MMO sites and forums I frequent. People are starting to see what it truly is and are leaving in droves.
I said in my last post that you could take away Rift’s most unique feature (the Rift and invasion system) and you would still have a solid, feature rich MMO. The same can not be said about ToR. Take away its most unique feature (the story and cut scenes) and you would have a very, very poor-man’s MMO.
The biggest problem faced by Bioware now is how to address future content. If they concentrate on releasing standard MMO content then the one feature that they have touted the most gets left by the wayside but if they focus on story the content releases will come much to slowly. Nothing takes as much time to produce as fully voiced and cutscened story. Funcom and Sony Online Entertainment both realized this quickly. It simply takes to long to produce so they abandoned it. Bioware will come to the same realization. Either take their time to release the story content and piss off a lot of players with lack of true content or abandon the story content and abandon the one thing they have that separates them from WoW.
I think ToR will end up being the biggest disappointment in MMO history. Players are already abandoning ship and it will just get worse over the next few months. When Guild Wars 2 releases it will have a heavy story emphasis as well but it also has a fully featured MMO to support it. The next few months will not be kind to SW:ToR.