Girl, indecisive

So RIFT is available for pre-order now, at least in the United States (and I won’t rant about the rest of the world being treated like poo or, at best, Johnny-come-latelies to the playing party, it’s not like it’s the first time an MMO company has done this — the whole distribution and licencing and whatnot side of things seems just a wee bit convoluted to me, designed to benefit everyone except the actual non-US players. Oh wait, am I ranting? Good rant, but in this case actually not warranted, it seems. Oops. Sorreeeee….).

RIFT. Pre-order. Yeah… I probably won’t.

It looked okay and everything, in the short couple of hours (if that) that I played over last weekend’s beta event. Please note, this is not (read it: NOT) a review. I don’t think I’ve played long enough to review the hairstyles, let alone the actual game, and at best I can give you some first impressions. In any case this is about why I won’t pre-order.

RIFT was slick and it was polished, don’t get me wrong, especially for what’s technically still a (end of) Beta. It looked better on-screen than it does in my screenshots, actually, but here’s one anyway. Is it just me, or does my char have a Kim Wilde thing going on? Maybe I should burst into “Kids in Telarica”?

The soul-class-not-class-system-thing was really interesting, from the little I saw of it, and I was grateful (if a little overwhelmed) that the beta threw it at me so quickly. I didn’t understand it well, but at least I grasped the basic One Char, Many Souls, Pick Three, four is right out concept. I think.

The world under siege theme was well-presented — in fact, as far as I’m concerned, too well in the human (?) starting area that I saw, pictured above. The constant bombardment constantly bombarded my ears the entire time I was playing there, accompanied by wails and whatever other sounds were appropriate for the time. I turned the music off very early on (no offense, RIFT, I do that to every game) so at least that wasn’t added to the cacophony. But, while it might stir the blood of normal players, add to their immersion, and generally make them feel part of some large urgent world-invasion event — to me it rapidly becomes just a wall of sound, and not the good musical kind either. I have sensitive ears — or something.

Laugh if you must, but ironically it was enough to make me log off and not log back in that weekend. I liked the character, I found the UI rather familiar and quite easy to get along with, but I couldn’t stand the idea of spending another hour or three with explosions and crumps going off every 3 seconds. So I didn’t.

Which microcosm experience sort of reflects my macrocosm decision not to pre-order. (Yet. This is an MMO, so Rule #1 is Never Say Never.) Pretty, slick, nicely done, ever so sliiiightly original but not so original as to put off people who expect a WoW-clone — like, you know, probably 90% of the gamer population who don’t read blogs and who don’t give a shit about the industry’s attempt to define itself outside of the shadow of the benemoth… But it didn’t grab me.

If I get invited to any other betas I may give it a little bit more of a chance, though the insane noise of the starting area is a huge drawback for me. Some people don’t like nails on blackboards, I don’t like noise, to the point of wanting nothing to do with the source. And yes, I could make a char somewhere else and I probably will, though sadly it won’t be an Elfy type, and GLEE wept. The char models look odd to me at best; the dwarves are actually pretty cute, but the elves on both sides of the divide are, how do I put this politely? FUGLY. See below, and I rest my case — is that a miserable-looking cow or what? Heroin Elf-chic, I guess.

Another reason I don’t think I’ll get this ahead of time — and very likely won’t play it at launch either — is that I’ve only just got back to another game, and I’m actually rather enjoying it. It’s possible I’ll be bored of WoW by the time RIFT launches, but this time I’ve got a bunch of friends there too, and that really enhances a game’s stickability. I don’t see myself being ready to move on come March.

We’ll see. There’s no such thing as Never in the MMO world, but for now I don’t think I’ll be pre-ordering and I’m not really panting for launch.