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Archive for the ‘Rift’ Category

This just in, via GameSpy’s latest ArenaNet interview:

GameSpy: How persistent are the game’s dynamic events? To use one of your common examples, if a bunch of raiders wreck a village, and nobody saves it, what happens next? Do players have to group up and retake it by force, or do the raiders eventually “reset” and leave the village on their own, or what?

Eric Flannum: Events are fully persistent. In the example you give, the raiders will never reset on their own, unless players intervene.

To address the inevitable comparison with Rift, which made a change to how invasions worked during beta since they tended to lay waste to quest hubs (to mixed reactions by the player base), dynamic events in GW2 are the content, so there is no argument to be made that a town taken over by raiders hampers content access.

I do enjoy how the confirmations of game systems trickle in by bits and pieces.

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Well, we made a difficult decision at chez Randomessa recently, and that is to cancel our Rift subscriptions for now. Due to the fact that I was traveling this weekend and have yet to finish resting up from the trip, I did not get to take part in the River of Souls event. We are only canceling “for now” because we aren’t saying we won’t play the game anymore, but since we haven’t logged on in weeks it didn’t seem frugal to blithely subscribe, essentially paying for nothing. When next we feel like logging in, we’ll re-up.

Meantime, I have been exclusively playing Guild Wars, while my husband has been mixing it up between Guild Wars, Dragon Age 2, Two Worlds II, and his constant favorites Bloodline Champions and Warcraft III. We almost missed all the April Fool’s fun, but I have to say (not at all biased! ;) I think ANet’s Commando reveal is the best, most elaborate prank I’ve seen come out of the MMO-verse. Good for them.

As for Corporal Bane, we managed to finish up his quest tonight – Mr. Randomessa’s first outing with a bonus mission! He quite liked it (free content he didn’t even have to level up for!) and is looking forward to Lieutenant Thackery’s once we get War In Kryta going. We are still playing through Nightfall when we find the time, and although I have tried rolling a Ranger on several separate occasions, this is the first time I am really enjoying it. It must be the camaraderie of my husband’s warthog with my flamingo.

Although he is weeks behind everyone else in his playthrough, I have asked Mr. Randomessa to write a review of Dragon Age 2 for me to post here sometime within the next week or so. I’d like to read how he summarizes his thoughts as a single-player RPG fan who prefers the Bethesda method of storytelling to Bioware, yet still looks somewhat forward to SW:TOR and deigns to play the odd MMO with me sometimes. I happen to think folks like him are a huge untapped market, but what do I know?

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Well, I’ve finally done it. After months of gentle cajoling (which didn’t work), and more recently, letting him watch over my shoulder as I trudge through vanquishes, Zaishen bounties, and re-build my character stock in general, Mr. Randomessa has caved in and decided to give Guild wars another try.

We had previously made an attempt at running through Prophecies on a friend’s second account. However, due to the lack of jumping combined with, I think, Post-Searing PTSD, Mr. Randomessa bailed, finding various excuses not to pick back up where we left off at Fort Ranik. Then said friend’s account was hacked, and nobody could remember the passwords or other critical information to regain control, so that ended the saga right there.

We’ve played, and tried to play, several different games since then, most recently Rift, yet for the past two weeks (and for various reasons) I’ve logged much more time in Guild Wars than Rift. It’s not so much that Rift is doing anything wrong as that with Guild Wars 2 information coming so fast and furious, I keep wanting to return to that world. Embark Beach and my team of heroes beckon.

Mr. Randomessa, for his part, has been watching the PAX East footage with me and wants very badly to have a piece of the Hall of Monuments stash, especially the Ranger pets. He would keep asking sidelong questions about what would be the easiest items to get into the HoM, and I would repeatedly volunteer to help him level up a Ranger in Factions so that he can quickly dedicate both his pet and capture a Black Moa.

He is intrigued by my buying and selling white miniatures in Kamadan. He wants to be able to jump, but he wants to be a part of this even more. So, we are making attempt 2.0. The Guild Wars trilogy and expansion are headed our way via Amazon, and I intend to roll a new Ranger alongside Mr. Randomessa to see what will happen. I’m not sure how much he’ll like Factions – I didn’t care for it as a campaign – but it is the easiest path to 20, and then to EotN for free max-level heroes, so we’ll see how it goes.

As for Rift, I wish I could say with any clarity whether I think I will still be playing in six months. I think I will be sticking with the one-month-at-a-time investment after all. We are still only level 18 and Ravious reports that even the level 20 -30 area has cleared out on Faeblight, so I’m a bit discouraged.

When last I played – before my laptop went explodey – I caught myself pushing on just to get to the next level because I was thinking “when I get to 20 I can play the Codex. When I get to 20 we’ll be at a good level to leave Freemarch.” I never wanted to chase levels, because chasing levels is boring for me. There’s an epic story to follow in there, but I have so many quests at the moment that I can’t remember what it is.

We’ll push through it (see the aforementioned Post-Searing Ascalon PTSD) but it’s a bit of a hump I have to get over that doesn’t have me enthusiastic to log in. Still, it is nice to have something I can return to when I hit my next wall in GW content.

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Black Screen of Frustration

After my initial whinings about not being able to play Rift for long periods of time due to graphics card overheating, I did manage to find a newer version of my graphics card drivers, install them, and see some improvement to the point that I was able to run Rift on Ultra settings with no frame rate loss and more importantly, no more crashes!

That is, until sometime this past week. I’m not sure when the change occurred, since I have not played daily, but my last two gaming sessions in Rift have ended with the black screen of frustration and a complete powerdown of my laptop. I played a little over an hour both times. A quick perusal of the Rift forums, and other forums dedicated to my particular laptop, suggest that upgrading my bios is the only surefire solution after graphics card drivers are updated and various settings tweaks have been tried and failed. However – and here I lose my geek cred – although I have no problems flashing my smartphone, I’m not willing to take my chances on my considerably more pricey computer, especially when it’s only one game that’s causing me these problems. I just wish it weren’t a game I’m actually currently trying to play.

Mr. Randomessa and I are now sitting pretty at level 17, having a few stunning successes with The Black Garden and were happily stomping invasions across the land when this latest blackout occurred. I suppose now I will have to restrict myself to strict 60-minute gaming sessions to preserve my hardware.

 

Level 16

The Scarred Mire doesn't make for extremely pretty backdrops

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Sweet 15

(because I couldn’t wait for us to reach level 16)

Mr. Randomessa and I are now level 15 after 1.5 weeks playing Rift (well, Mr. Randomessa actually has a Spousal Leveling Contract alt that he levels up in his spare time so that he can play with me with whichever character he feels like). Pre-launch weekend I was working and didn’t have much time to play, but we put in a good few hours this past weekend and are still enjoying ourselves very much, even as we lag behind others who are having dungeon tales and adventures in the next zones of the game.

I will say that we are really loving crafting so far in Rift. It’s the least-grindy crafting I’ve had the pleasure to experience, although something nifty like an EQII-esque minigame would be even better. Heck, just give us an actual crafting animation for each type of craft instead of having us “wash our hands” over the forge and I’d be thrilled. In very little time and with surprisingly little effort, I already can make items that I won’t be able to use for four more levels; my level-appropriate crafting skills are grey and net me no additional experience. After crawling away battered and bruised from LOTRO’s crafting, this lack of grind is a very welcome departure.

The only unfun thing about the crafting is that our chosen professions rely on mining. I touched on this before, but the whole ninja-ing of metal nodes is really old. Mr. Randomessa doesn’t have enough money for a moount yet (we spend all our cash on crafting, heh), so he is constantly beat to nodes by turtle-riders, when nodes aren’t gathered out from right under his currently-in-combat nose. The only thing that makes up for it somewhat is that I can butcher anything left behind from others, which feels a lot nicer than having to compete with them for the resources I need. I can’t say this enough, but I cannot wait for GW2 to do away with this competition thing entirely. For now I just stow my own turtle, or use it to travel to the node and claim it for him.

Oh no! There's a progress bar! That means it won't be fun, just as all progress bars are the enemies of fun

Speaking of GW2 crafting, apparently this is a screenshot sneak peak of GW2’s crafting interface. GW2Guru denizens are crawling over themselves to speculate about what this means, but my take on the matter is that if GW2 crafting were exactly like Rift’s, only without the node competition, I’d be tickled pink. Add something like EQII’s crafting minigame, and I’m in heaven. Unlike my progress-bar-phobic brethren, I really don’t mind them if they are small and if I can create useful things immediately. Unfortunately, how many items must be created before they are “too many” will vary from person to person, but if I can start a crafting session after an evening of questing (or, for GW2, pursuing my personal story + dynamic events), and, in five minutes, have leveled a tier of crafting and can create more powerful items than I could have when I started using solely items that I gathered during my game session, this is plenty for me, and not grindy at all.

Back to Rift: server queues for Faeblight are still an issue when we get ready to play, especially on weekends, though since we are on the West coast the weeknight queues are short by the time we hop online at around 9pm. There are still plenty of people running around the low-level areas, which is nice, and we have even participated in a zone-wide event or two. On the other hand, we have also been known to avoid a zone-wide event or two in favor of crafting in Meridian. I’m not yet certain what the repurcussions of failing an event are, other than “well, there will be rifts everywhere, good luck with that.”

The public grouping system is as nice as we remember it from Warhammer, with the same problem that we noticed when we played Warhammer: there’s no real way for Mr. Randomessa and I to “stay together” after joining a public group, except to each leave party and then party up again (or if there is, I’m unaware of it). It’s a minor thing, just a few clicks really, but it would be incredibly handy if joining a public group were more like joining a Warfront/Scenario: join the group and then when you leave, you stay in whatever pre-formed party you were a part of.

PvP-wise, we have dipped our toes into this as well, and have the usual complaints about group cohesiveness and the importance of killing the Guy With The Thing, but when matches are good, they’re great. When they’re not, they’re teeth-grindingly bad. When they’re close, they still manage to be a lot of fun, though, so it can go either way.

In short: Rift is still fun and is shaping up to be a pretty big success, where I define “success” as “at least as successful as anything released post-WoW, with better retention than most if not all comers.” We have our fingers hovering over the 6-month subscription button, but haven’t had the guts to follow through yet. I think once we reach level 20+ (if we can do so within the next 8 days!), we will be in a better position to say whether that investment seems worth it. I’m very glad that Trion has given us this window to decide; they’ve got the best of the subscription-model game options I’ve encountered.

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Interesting Day

  • Apparently, the release build of Rift does not like my graphics card, because it causes it to overheat and shuts my laptop down. Eerily enough, this is precisely what caused me to stop playing Warhammer back in the day. I haven’t been to the forums yet tonight to find out if it’s a thing, but I’m on my way right after this post.
  • Someone has been trying to brute-force my Guild Wars account, so now it is locked and I have to play the (now famous) “let’s see how well you remember your credit card number from five years ago!” game, instead of the game I paid for.

So, no, I haven’t been playing Rift along with the rest of you intrepid Guardians and Defiants (or waiting in queues, if that’s more representative of your activities). I hope you’re having fun.

I thought the latest Norn (and PAX East demo) reveals from ArenaNet would keep me warm during my workday while Trion’s servers melted, but they’re going to have to suffice for a little while longer. Fortunately Norn have no need of gaming!

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I genuinely don’t mean for this to turn into a “vs” post, even if it seems so. This is just a bit of an attempt to sort out why I’m simultaneously ambivalent and excited (who would have thought that was even possible?) about upcoming MMO ventures, largely based on conversations you might hear if you sat around the dining room table at Chez Randomessa the past few weeks.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m excited to play Rift upon release. The reasons for this are many:

  • The visual style and graphics quality of the game simply connects with me in a way that many other MMOs have not
  • I’ll have the opportunity to play my dream class (or at least the closest thing I’ve seen to it)
  • I’ve fallen in love with the lore (all other goodies aside, I’m getting the boxed CE for the comics)
  • It contains most of the elements I’m looking for in a multiplayer online RPG: quests, team-based PvP, crafting, and “random awesome stuff that just happens”
  • My husband likes it and wants to play with me
  • We are just plain having fun. The game is fun for us. We have only experienced the first zone (aside from my running through the early area of Gloamwood, flagged for PvP and scared witless of confrontation), but we’ve really enjoyed these beta events, hiccups and all.

And lastly:

  • It’s coming out (way?) before Guild Wars 2

That final item is a bit of both a curse and a blessing. Obviously it’s good for Rift to get my pre-order and subsequent subscription dollars (times two) for the next while, because if GW2 were out right now, I’d be playing that instead. It’s also good for me because given the options for MMO releases this time of year, well, Rift and DCUO are sort of it (sorry, Earthrise, I was never going to be into your sci-fi sandboxy goodness).

It’s bad for me, however, because of the things Rift does (and doesn’t do) that I expect to find (and not find) in Guild Wars 2, and ultimately because I prefer the way Guild Wars 2 will be handling those factors:

Competition vs. Cooperation, or, Progression vs. ???

I realize that most of my issues with Rift stem from the way I feel Rift, and MMOs like it, direct gameplay, versus what I perceive to be ArenaNet’s take on the matter.

  • Mob tagging/resource stealing – Rift handles this much like other MMOs I’m familiar with, where it’s possible to “steal” a mob from someone else so that they don’t get XP for the kill, or quest credit. Similarly, it’s possible to see a resource node up ahead, be on your way to capture it, and have someone snipe it from under you, forcing you to look elsewhere.

    While due to Trion’s backend mojo, Rift’s devs have the luxury of quickly and relatively painlessly adjusting spawn rates to help lessen these effects, each time it happens I can’t help but think of ArenaNet’s philosophy that everyone who contributes to a kill gets credit, or that nodes will populate for each person so it’s not possible to steal that resource. It comes down to the difference between wanting or at least not minding to see another person cross my path when I’m trying to kill/gather something, and being wary that they’ll take what I was after.

  • Level “consumption” and group/peer play – I still look back and marvel at how a few months into Star Trek Online, I had a Lt. Commander, while bloggers all around me were reaching Admiral. I would not be surprised if something similar happened with Rift; six months into Warhammer Online my highest-level characters were level 21 and 25. Granted, my already limited time was split between characters for Spousal Leveling Contract purposes, but things will be no different this time around. I would no more push myself to play more than I’m comfortable in order to level at an average pace than I would expect others to wait around for me to slowpoke along.

    Consider Guild Wars progression. Because you reached max level so quickly, progression was measured by “where you were” in the story, rather than what level you were. I have so many friends and acquaintances who would tell me “I’m stuck at Thunderhead Keep,” or “effing Eternal Grove, man.” This feels to me more like standard RPG progression rather than an emphasis on numbers – and I like that.

    I feel Guild Wars 2, due to scaling dynamic events and sidekicking, will result in an environment more like this than traditional MMOs. Mr. Randomessa and I won’t even need a spousal leveling contract; in fact I’m more likely to encourage us to proceed through our respective personal stories so we can tell one another about them or watch over one another’s shoulders!

  • Endgame – This is unlikely to be a real issue for me because I expect I won’t see max level in Rift for quite some time. I still like to examine the philosophies at play here. There have been some great articles and podcasts over at Rift Podcast about how prepared Trion is for players to reach max level and start working on endgame progression. There are normal and expert dungeons, rift raids, 25-man raids, etc.

    I don’t expect to see any of that content, and I’m perfectly fine with that. What I am concerned about is what there will be for me to do if and when I reach max level and the questing pretty much stops. I don’t expect to roll more than one alt, because low-level replayability is not what I would consider one of Rift’s strong suits. Is Rift’s endgame simply Raid or Die? In the world of subscription games, time is money, and money invested at that. Will I be able to walk away from characters on which I’ve spent months of both, just because they won’t be able to hack the raiding game and will have nothing but (minor) rift-chasing to do?Here is where I sharply part ways with a lot of MMO players (save Tesh perhaps); I don’t mind my games coming to an end. I don’t mind there being a boss you kill and then the credits roll. I fact, I rather prefer it. This, of course, explains in large part my affinity for the Buy-to-Play model over subscription games. This doesn’t mean, however, that I only want to play Guild Wars 2 for a finite amount of months; I like content to come to a close, but I like there to be loads and loads of other content at the same time. So, when I finally put Zhaitan to sleep, I get to go back and be someone else entirely and make entirely different decisions and KILL that pesky dragon next time. And I can go back and be someone else entirely and do something different yet again.

    I’m perfectly happy progressing my character to a plateau point where the only way she’s really improving is because I’m playing her better; sure, I’ll get attached to her, but I don’t have to abandon her because there will always be casual gameplay available to me at max level, and I’ll get attached to another character just as well, through the different adventures and experiences I have with her. That there doesn’t seem to be anything of this sort in Rift actually keeps me from feeling I’ll be able to be terribly attached to the characters I finally create on the live version. I fear my characters will not feel “real” to me because they won’t be engaging in what Trion (and most MMOs) determine to be the “real” content of the game.

    If I’m mistaken about Rift’s options for non-raiders and non-elite PvPers at max level, I welcome any and all corrections.

  • Loot - the final issue for me, and one that ties into endgame above, is the idea of running dungeons over and over in order to gear up to run the next tier of dungeons over and over. I’ve already established that I won’t be able to take part in this kind of content, but I suspect it’s equal parts lack of time and distaste for the practice entirely. I abhor repetition; I love Guild Wars and I often don’t play it between content updates because I’m tired of repeating content. No, I don’t want to run the Great Northern Wall again, even though it’s easy, even if you give me 10 Zaishen coins for it.

    ArenaNet’s no-grind philosophy really has my heart; whether obtaining titles is the most mind-numbing experience known to humanity or not, the fact is that I was never restricted from story – the “meat” of ArenaNet’s game – because I didn’t have enough favor or because my armor was so subpar that I was getting one-shot or because I was not tall enough to ride this ride (well, that last wasn’t true for Prophecies in all cases). That dungeons in GW2 will not require me to run it more than once per piece of armor is about exactly the level of grind I can accept for what will ultimately be cosmetic gear for me – not gear I’ll require just in order to get to another dungeon and fight the dragons there.

But if wishes were ponies we’d not only be eating steak, but playing Guild Wars 2 and arguing about builds while we were at it. It’ll be ready “when it’s ready” and I have no intention of holding my breath until ArenaNet hurries it up. I just have to remind myself to enjoy Rift for what it is and the fun I am having now, rather than fret over philosophical differences that won’t impact me for months in the future.

…is it February 24th yet?

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After seeing a handful of posts over the past couple of days throwing out the idea that Trion’s Rift is now becoming over-hyped and/or over-exposed, I must admit to throwing my hands up in frustration. As I posted over at Bio Break:

I don’t understand it. Gamers are playing themselves sick on limited beta weekends, and the problem is with the company in any way? (not that you’re saying this, Syp, but it seems to be the impression I’m taking away from several comments on the blogosphere)

Sometimes I think I’ll never understand some of my fellow MMO players. I sometimes feel that this is purely a side-effect of our fast-moving internet and blogging culture, where people feel compelled to say something every so often (we don’t want to fall off of those blogrolls!), and so play themselves sick on games so that they have something to report on, and if they can’t (goodness forbid) play, speculate themselves into a frenzy of hype and delusion, the outcome of which can only be PR disaster.

That’s… not on the company. That’s on us.

I’m impressed at the culture we as MMO gamers have created for ourselves. We have the people who won’t buy at launch without a free trial (thus risking impacting a company’s ability to use money acquired through initial sales to improve and/or continue to develop the product); we have the people who are concerned about endgame and scoff at betas that don’t allow access to the higher levels of content. We have the people who scoff at betas because they are glorified marketing ploys/”soft launches”; we have the people who worry that a company who actually implements suggestions or makes changes due to feedback during beta lack vision.

So we have a game that used beta testers to beta test, limited beta access (presumably in part to build hype, and in part to restrict testing to targeted systems) but increased access with each beta event, increased the level cap with each event, opening up the map and dungeons for scrutiny, will show off near-endgame content to an open beta audience, giving us plenty of time to not only pre-order, but pre-order with discounts, and even lock in a reduced subscription rate after launch, and our problem is that now we’re over-exposed and wish Trion would turn it down a notch.

No, maybe our problem is that we have to talk about everything so much and so often that we’ve already played Rift for three years in our heads. Next!

Now, make no mistake: it is absolutely in the best interest of gaming companies to help us manage our expectations, whether that be by limiting content or revealing it. It is also true that we as a general gaggle of gamers have little to no idea what we really want; transparancy apparently leads to over-exposure and “over”-hype; a tight-lipped stance leads to ArenaNet having to post a blog in which they simply re-iterate that they’re still working on the game, or BioWare having to address rumors of a budget for SW:TOR many times larger than reality allows, impending doom and gloom, etc.

It would seem the only thing that hasn’t, in fact, been sped up by the internet is the actual development time of a quality MMO. Given the number of times I’ve now seen comments posted on various sites saying Trion should “just release Rift already,” I’m not sure we’re far off from forgetting that as well.

But what do I know? I’m talking about Rift, too, already as sick of the controversies about endgame and nerfing of racials and open PvP changes as everyone else. If Trion relied on my blog to generate hype, Rift would have already failed, since I no longer participate in the beta weekends, saving that content for launch – and as such, I haven’t much to say. Except, of course, to complain like the old, crotchety gamer that I am.

Next!

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Of Gaming Lulls

Whilst waiting for the Rift Beta 5 event to take place (although I’m not yet certain I will be able to participate much due to timing and my fear of growing sick of the game before it even launches), Mr. Randomessa has taken it upon himself to give the newly-released Bloodline Champions a try. I would let him speak for himself as to the merits of this game, but he hasn’t spoken a word to me since first loading it onto his computer last night, so I’ll just assume he’s having fun. (I kid, of course. He has been playing it steadily all weekend, though)

Inspired by his experimentation, but put off by the top-down/isometric view BC locks you into, I tried downloading Land of Chaos Online (LOCO) instead, and lasted through the newbie tutorial before acknowledging that this sort of game is Just Not For Me(TM). That, and I’m terrible at them, so the feeling is mutual.

Speaking of games that are not for me, something on the Leakerz website made me check out Firefall’s development progress. Here is a video of gameplay footage with developer commentary that I found very compelling. While I had seen a couple of trailers, I had not heard such a complete feature list until specifically going to the site to seek this information out. I did not realize, for example, that Firefall claims to provide dynamic content, much along the lines of Rift and Guild Wars 2, including player hubs that can be taken over during invasions by hostile NPCs and subsequently cannot be rescued unless other mission objectives for reclaiming said hub are completed. All this, and a seamless world plus PvP and PvE matching and storyline missions, for free (yes, free to download and free to play, with a cash shop). Why, I can almost hear a gauntlet being thrown down as I type this. It won’t release until the end of 2011, which is more of a release date than ArenaNet has provided, so I look forward to these two duking it out over the next year. The winners are us, the gamers!

Of course, while I quite like the cell-shaded and admittedly anime/manga-inspired visuals of Firefall’s future Earth, I just cannot see myself being able to invest much time or passion into an FPS/TPS game. I simply haven’t got the skills… yo. The videos are quite fun to watch, though. I even like the ubiquitous Blur cinematic.

I’m using this lull between choice gaming content for myself to finally finish reading Guild Wars: Edge of Destiny, which is making me want to play a mesmer in Guild Wars 2 so badly (you know, whenever that information is released), and Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension, which is making me wonder if rolling a Riftstalker in Rift would be a close enough approximation of a Mistborn.

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To Sum Up:


Yes, Mr. Randomessa and I have pre-ordered Rift, including one Collector’s Edition box for the goodies. No, we will not be taking Trion up on their generous multiple-month subscription discounts. Resolutions to keep, and all that.

Although we’re pretty much sold on the game, we were really waiting to try out this weekend’s Warfronts, something it turns out I will barely be able to do, what with my extended work schedule that always seems to coincide with beta weekends. A part of me shares Syncaine’s concern that, like Warhammer, Rift will not be able to withstand the population behaving differently at launch than they are in beta (a behavioral change I admit I don’t understand, but then I am that odd gamer who is neither competitive nor reward-driven).

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have traded my headstart and first six months of Warhammer Online for anything, and if the absolute worst Rift can do is give us six months of rip-roaring fun, that’s a bet I’ll take.

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