Given the past few years’ history of MMO releases, most people fall prey to the hype machine and become ridden with promises and implanted with high expectations, only to be let down come a lackluster-at-best release. With the hype-and-fail cycle repeating itself so often, it’s no wonder that MMO players have become pessimistic of any new game.
Surprisingly, RIFT has had one of the most polished, stable pre-order launches in the recent years, if not ever. What’s more, is RIFT has had one of the best Beta experiences too. As the game went from Beta 4-5-6 and eventually to Open Beta, players had to work increasingly more to actually find bugs to report and things to complain about. TRION was clearly privy to how solid their product was, as they confidently opened the doors wider and wider with every release, leading to an extremely polished open beta — a treacherous time for previous MMOs.
While many developers are often fearful of the open beta as they are essentially letting the world know that their product has run out of money and they need to release to continue, the open beta for RIFT was just TRION saying, “Give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed” — and the players weren’t. To loosely quote Lore from Gamebreaker.tv, “Yeah uh, this is good, just release it, I’m ready to give you my money.”
Come the pre-release launch, many veteran MMO players anticipated downtimes, lag, malfunctioning software, and a plethora of other issues that are known to plague retail MMO releases. Once again, surprisingly, the issues were few. Come the 1pm EST start, the worst issue was the long queues to get in as the 32 available servers became jam-packed near instantly. However, as time progressed and the number of players allowed into the server was increased, along with new servers being constantly created, the numbers dwindled to more acceptable ranges.
Once the queue was surmounted and players were able to login to RIFT, the servers were remarkably lag free, stable, and the client did not crash to a horrible, fiery, death — nor have any of these issues surfaced in the past 24 hours.
While RIFT itself borrows much from its predecessors and isn’t particularly groundbreaking, the initial experience has been one of the most promising of any MMO to date. With large pre-order numbers and a smashing success of a launch, we can only hope that someone finally got it right. However, even if the game were to not last and the crowds flock back to EVE or WoW or wherever they came from, the bar has been raised for launch, and it’s a high one at that.