It would seem that all massively multiplayer online games, in one way or another, suffer from a flaw common among the games of the genre. While it is true that no MMO truly has an ending, it is also painfully obvious that once the importance of the experience bar ceases to exist, so too does the fun.
This fact has not been lost on Trion Worlds, the developers behind the MMORPG Rift, which is why the games upcoming installment, Patch 1.5, will address just that issue.
Rift: Planes of Telara (PC)
Recently, I trekked on down to Trion Worlds in Redwood Shores for a chance to experience what the creative minds behind Rift have in mind for the future of the game. After three trains, two buses and a one hour long self-guided tour of the biggest maze in the world (I got REALLY lost in Redwood Shores), I found myself in front of a building which could have only been architecturally inspired by a mix of the Parthenon and a Star Destroyer.
With Rift being my current MMO of choice, I had to sheepishly suppress the urge to frolic through the rows of cubicles, needlessly pilfering “mementos” from every desk in view like a kleptomaniac as I walked through the doors. I might like Rift a little too much.
Patch 1.5 Hopes to bring hundreds of hours of casual friendly content for players who have reached level 50 but are unable to experience the end-game; they aim to do it like this:
Planar Attunement is Rift's response to the general feeling of not giving a damn once the experience bar stops moving. Essentially, it replaces one experience bar with another. Players will be given the ability to earn Planar Experience after they have reached max level which they will then be able to apply towards unlocking new and useful abilities.
As the name suggests, all of the new abilities granted through Planar Attunement trees will correspond with one of the six planes -- Life, Death, Fire and so on. Planar Experience can be earned through more than just senseless killing though. The completion of daily quests, dungeons and rifts are among the extensive list of activities which will garner experience to spend on Planar Upgrades.
For most, myself included, the addition of a new raid encounter can be blown off as little more than an unneeded use of hard drive space. Fear not the addition of new raid content from this day forth! Chronicles allows two casually geared players to experience the likes of Greenscale's Blight and Hammerknell without the hassle of adhering to strict schedules which occupy multiple hours of time that you just can't spare. Now the encounters will not be carbon copies of their bigger, beefier brethren. None the less, they are difficult and require understanding of complex mechanics.
Library of the Runemasters:
It's a new Warfront! That about explains everything, but for the sake of not sounding lazy I will elaborate. Library of the Runemasters takes place inside Hammerknell and will play similarly to The Black Gardens. Players must capture multiple "fang" like objects which will damage the holding player in a similar fashion as The Black Gardens. All I will say is I pity the pug which is given nothing more than a lone Chloromancer in this one.
For those of you currently playing Rift, I am confident in stating that you are probably familiar with a parser and what it does. I am equally confident in stating that you are most likely confused by it. Damage meters, swanky U/I mods and whatever Rift's version of Deadly Boss Mods will be are all on the horizon, folks.
Most MMORPGs have them, now, so does Rift. When players have reached such subscription milestones as 1, 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, they will be rewarded with fabulous prizes in the mail. The items which will be rewarded to players were described to me as "cool ass shit."
For those of you just beginning your journeys in Telara, you will most likely feel very little heat from this patch. This patch is in no way pretending to be made for everyone and it does address serious problems with the genre in general though. Only time will tell if all the above mentioned material will move Rift away from the problems of a general lack of content in MMO end game or if it will leave the game as yet another example of why theme park MMOs tend to have a short life span after level cap.