Is Rift’s Emergent Gameplay Just Reskinned PQs?

Forgive my ignorance here, because I haven’t been following Rift too closely. I just found this developer diary on YouTube where they talk about some of their neat plans for the game. One of the bigguns is the rift system. Actually, considering they’ve named the game after it, I’d say it’s probably how they’re trying to define themselves in the MMO industry.

From what I understand (Ferrel, I’m looking at you), these rifts are supposed to represent the game’s take on emergent gameplay. It works something like this, throughout the world, at random times and places, portals to different planes of existence will open and allow the evil forces within to come forward. From what Ferrel’s researched, the system for these was built up before the game itself, so it should be pretty good.

This dev. diary makes me wonder just how new it is, though. Here are some choice quotes they’ve used to describe the system:

Once you encounter a tear and cause it to open into a rift…”

One type, for example, you might be fighting creatures from the plane of death. And so, over time the waves that you’re fighting are getting stronger and stronger… As you’re doing this, you’re increasing the value of your rewards over time.”

We are currently implementing a system that rewards anybody that participates in a rift. You can even turn up at the eleventh hour and you’ll get something. People that actually are involved in opening the rift will get better stuff…”

While these all sound cool, here are the key facts I take away: 1) rifts will be optional since they have to be initiated; 2) rifts will be ranked events in which players compete for participation based rewards; and, 3) rifts will proceed in stages.

If you played WAR, you’re probably nodding your head right now. Those are the three defining stages of Public Quests, as well. The first two points also proved to be problems for Mythic. Problems that, over a year since launch, they’re still working to fix.

A tear before it opens to a full rift

That’s not to say the concept isn’t good. Frankly, if done right, I think public quests are a great system and a wonderful gateway to quick co-op fun. But, even so, PQs in WAR are largely ignored. Players want to min/max their way to “end game” content. Unless this kind of activity is incentivized out the wazoo, it will be ignored quicker XP elsewhere. Determining player contribution is another can of worms entirely, and one they’ll likely hear complaining about until the servers shut down years down the line.

The bigger issue this video raises for me, though, is how exactly Rift is different than any other game out there. The art is good and eye catching, and the customizable class system is interesting, but I like to see something new in the games I get excited about. Refining ideas and making them your own might be the key to long-term success, but at this stage, I haven’t bit yet. I’m a fish in a big lake and Trion’s hook doesn’t look any different than a dozen others.

But, like I said, I’m pretty ignorant about this game. Hopefully, I’m missing something. It has Scott Hartsman, which is good. Ferrel is excited about it and it’s infectious. I want to be on board.

What do you guys think, is there anything really new in Rift: Planes of Telara?

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