RIFT Versus SW:TOR – An Observation on With It-ness

I find it very interesting that RIFT gets mass appeal for being a game that’s adapted to the times, yet SW:TOR has absolutely not. In fact, I’d say the folks at Bioware pretty much stopped learning right around 2008 with WAR’s warfronts. Few people mention this, despite their being back to back releases (figuratively anyways). The only lessons Bioware seem to have applied since are those they’ve taught themselves with single player RPGs.

And for all that, I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun. The voicing, while sometimes an obvious mask for “kill ten rats” advancement quests, really does make leveling more engaging. On the other hand, I also feel like my character has been planned out for me, like a single player RPG. That’s always been there, though,  in games gone by, but I guess it’s easier to ignore when everything isn’t spoken.

I do wish they would implement some of RIFT’s improvements. It needs better tutorials and a more customizable UI. It needs better quest planning — either that or earlier mounts. I love the massive scale of everything but it’s tiresome when you have to run back for the second or third time. And, as small as it is, I really wish the minimized window would flash red when I was being attacked. I’m an alt+tab blogger and that’s a death wish when you stay logged in.

Overall though, there’s still this looming question over fanboy love and jaded bitterness. I’ll say this: SW:TOR is a very polished, very familiar game that harkens back to the 2004 era of MMO scope. It’s picked up some things better left behind and, yeah, I hope they fix them quick. I feel very spoiled by Trion’s quick turn around time, though, so I hope it’s a lesson they learned. While SW:TOR’s first patch was three yards short of underwhelming, and their communication is EA Mythic acceptable, this could be the second life for the WoW quality MMORPG.

Is it as up with the times as RIFT? Not by ten feet of tent pole. Is it still a shining example of how compelling and exciting this genre can be? Yes — and for that, I hope you try it.

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