Review: Sanctuary, “Out of the Blue” + Thoughts on Rift

Two topics in one post; it’s a delicious blog sandwich!

Firstly, I recently decided to take a few days off from WoW and give the free trial of the much-hyped new MMO, Rift: Planes of Telara, a whirl.

I was immediately struck by the fact that, in terms of gameplay, the game is virtually identical to WoW. The similarity is frankly absurd at times. I won’t quite go so far as to use the term “rip off,” but… I can’t think of a way to finish that sentence.

There are only two substantive differences between WoW and Rift. One is the class system, which allows you to build your own class by choosing one of four broad “callings” and then smashing together different subclasses. This system is both a blessing and a curse. The opportunities for customization seem virtually endless, and many of the potential classes are very, very fun, but it’s also incredibly complex and overwhelming, even for an experienced gamer like me. This is made worse by the fact all this complexity is hurled your way before you even hit level five; I’d much prefer it if you chose your subclasses slowly over time. I can only imagine how lost a total newbie to MMOs would be.

The other difference is the Rifts themselves, which create a dynamic world in which rampaging hordes of demons can come out of nowhere and sack your town. This, too, is a double-edged sword. It creates for a much more dynamic and interesting world than WoW, and it allows for some genuinely epic and fun times, but it can also be very inconvenient to have a small army of elites appear between you and your objective, and I see this as a gimmick that could get old fast. The Rifts are not solo friendly from what I’ve seen, so once the player base matures and low level zones become underpopulated, I imagine newbies will be screwed pretty badly. Though to be fair, I only played for a few days, and there may be some failsafe to prevent this I’m not aware of.

Rift is, on the whole, a pretty good game, but one thing prevented me from getting into it: it has no character. Love it or hate it, no one can argue that WoW is a game oozing its own unique style and personality. On the other hand, everything about Rift feels generic–the artwork, the world, the story, the characters. I felt like I should have liked it, but I got bored very fast and have already gone back to the lush, cartoonish pastures of Azeroth. I’m sure a lot of people will love Rift, but it isn’t for me.

If anyone else out there has given Rift a try, please comment. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Now, onto the latest episode of Sanctuary. “Out of the Blue” is, frankly, not an episode that inspires a lot of commentary. It was neither good nor bad. Merely predictable and ordinary.

Like the past episode, it is a very generic concept–Magnus and Will* are stuck in a hallucinogenic fantasy world a la the Matrix and several dozen episodes of Stargate and Star Trek. It’s well told, but feels exactly like every other version of this story I’ve ever seen. The only real spike of drama was their ultimate plan for escaping, which I won’t spoil but was pretty cool–at least in my opinion.

*(Why is it always Magnus and Will? Couldn’t something horrible happen to Magnus and Henry for a change? Should be careful what I wish for; I might get another Kate-heavy episode. *Shiver.*)

What is exciting, however, is the ad for the upcoming season finale, which featured both John “Jack the Ripper” Druitt and the show’s best villain to date: Adam Worth, AKA Dr. Jekyll. Those two (or three, if you count both of Adam’s personalities) can only mean awesomeness is approaching. If Tesla shows up, too, I might just have to hug someone.

Want to give Rift a go? Feeling ready to catch up on Sanctuary? Pick them up on my Amazon affiliate.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Sanctuary, “Out of the Blue” + Thoughts on Rift

  1. I also have trialled Rift – and came to pretty much the same conclusions. It is visually stunning, but seems to me to be ‘WoW-lite’ i.e. more gloss, less depth. And yes, Rifts are just a pain when there is no-one around to help with them. My main complaint, as an altoholic, is the lack of incentive to roll more characters. I imagine the two starter areas would get very boring very fast. So, yes, I enjoyed it for a few days, but nothing grabbed me enough to make me want to stay.

    • I would actually argue that Rift has more depth than WoW, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I find over-complication is a problem in most RPGs, and WoW does a pretty good job of avoiding that pitfall most of the time.

      The starter zones for Rift were more enjoyable than the average WoW zone intro zone (though maybe not as fun as the better ones, like Gilneas and the Scarlet Enclave), but yes, only having two would get old fast, no matter how good they are.

  2. I played Rift from Beta 5 to about March this year. I liked everything about it well enough…but as you mentioned, it’s too complicated. There was *too much* choice for me. I also had trouble with the video settings. My computer couldn’t run it at Ultra graphic settings and so I was left with a really bland, boring world. There were parts where I couldn’t discern giant trolls lurking alongside a mountain. Then I’d get bushwhacked by said trolls. That was annoying.

    • I had trouble with the graphics as well. I thought my machine was reasonably powerful, but I could only run Rift on some very bland medium to low graphics, and even so, it was very slow and lagged badly during large fights. Whereas I can run WoW on pretty decent graphics settings and it runs perfectly even when a lot is going on (I did Algalon 25 yesterday without a hitch).

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