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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, ┬áin 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.

5 comments

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  1. Elementalistly

    I will stay with Rift.

  2. Stabs

    They have added some Rift innovations, notably area effect looting and wholesale grey selling.

  3. Chordian

    There’s a lot of polish in Rift that SWTOR should have had too, no doubt about it. But I still think the game has a lot of polish, they just spent their resources on different things.

    Things I didn’t like about Rift is the way they sometimes blindly copied certain things out of WoW as if they didn’t even bother to think about it. Stuff like e.g. the yellow fatigue bar you get when you try to swim away from the continent. And for all the polish Rift had, I was pretty underwhelmed by their capitals. Especially the one for Guardians, which barely felt like a small temple with a few tents around it. In SWTOR you have several ginormous buildings on some of the planets with fantastic interiors, especially Coruscant.

    BioWare has copied a lot of things too, but a lot of the details in the game also makes it clear that they actually thought them over and improved/adjusted some of them. I like that you get a no-nonsense 35% “Sprint” at level 14. It turns off when you enter combat, but when combat is over, it’s automatically on again and with no drawback. Wonderful! I had a similar ability for my Warden in LOTRO, but when I caught aggro with it on, I lost most of my mana bar as punishment (and I had to turn it on manually afterwards). Also the way mounts work in SWTOR; when you call it, the progress bar is extremely fast and you’re on it in what feels like a fraction of a second. This used to take forever in most other MMORPG, but admittedly they tuned it down lately. Then there’s the way you can multitask crafting by sending out companions while you’re questing. Not to mention that most “X of Y” mob tasks are automatically given to you as bonus quests while you’re in the area looking for something else anyway. It makes a lot of sense and works very well; kill a number of mobs, then scan some of their gizmos, then kill their leader and take his ID. All without having to go back to a town for more quest pickup.

    All these small details help making SWTOR a better experience for me than Rift.

  4. Starseeker

    I like SWTor as a single player game that I can chat to my friends in, I have a guild of 30 some odd people and I think maybe 4 of us have actually grouped together at some point. My jedi knight is level 29, I just got a trooper off ord mantell. The stories are cool, the voice acting draws you in. However, as you stated Chris there are a lot of things that they could have improved upon. I don’t think SwTor has as much polish as Rift did at launch. I have encountered numerous bugs, some of which require a re-log (graphics glitches, buffs not working, abilities sticking, my jedi knight glowing with every particle effect they’ve had cast on them in the last hour). They did do a lot of little things though which add to the flavor of the game, and yes the main town is massive (I haven’t seen the empire town), but courasent seems fairly deserted with all these wide open spaces. They need to add more NPCs even if they are just walking around.

    I am not sure what will happen when I get to 50 and finish the story…i don’t really find grinding compelling in this game. I have been experimenting on my trooper with the dark side responses, and as you stated it feels as if no matter what response I give, I will still be going down the same path eventually.

    @stabs – Wholesale grey selling? Can you do this without a companion? If so please tell me how :) (Mine never goes to sell, it bugs out even if I re-log or dismiss and resummon the companion, I’ll do the motions and the ability casts but the companion never leaves and stuff never gets sold).

  5. Telwyn

    SWTOR certainly feels an older game in some areas, most notably the UI – I though WoW was the only game with immobile elements until this came out!

    As Chordian says above there are different dev priorities to the two games; SWTOR is all about story, Rift is about systems. It’s a shame Rift is such a shallow game, story wise – I like what’s there but it’s so minimal compared to other MMOs.

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