Yes, you read the title right.
I won’t say that I don’t like WoW anymore, because that’d be a lie. But I will admit that it’s been wearing on me as of late. With the pigeonholing and simplification of specs, constant references and examples of racism that are essentially encouraged through quests, and the continuation of the ‘villain gone mad’ trope, the coming of Cataclysm has sapped a lot of the enjoyment of the game from me. The trolls have been thrown into the ‘slums’ for Vol’jin daring to question the methods and perspectives of Garrosh as the new Warchief of the Horde. Neltharion, aka Deathwing, is the new psychophobia personification that we all must fight against because him having gone mad is causing him to destroy Azeroth. And let’s not forget several new quest chains that involve taking out those who have gone mad, such as one in Uldum where you’re rolling up ‘crazed’ gnomes by the hundreds into a giant ball of fire. I assure you, I wasn’t thinking of this crazy evil that must be stopped when I was doing that quest – the entire time I found myself taking out my frustration of this endless trope through this giant flaming ball. While therapeutic at the time, I’m not sure if it was entirely worth it.
After a while, even with the implementation of new achievements and factions to grind reputation with, I found myself struggling to enjoy playing. Sometimes the drive felt more like an obligation to complete daily chores than an actual willingness to play. I did my auctions and dailies and that was about it. The people I came across in PUGs didn’t exactly help matters. With the stresses of winter and aches and pains throughout my being, my tolerance of douchebags was wearing thin and has led me to drop groups far more often than I usually do.
So, with all that in the back of my mind, *** and I grabbed copies of Rift and gave it a try. Originally, the idea was just to see what it was like. Curiosity and all. I was reluctant at first, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t ready to leave yet another MMO just yet. But the more I played around with it, the more it started to grow on me. The soul system is appealing to my desire of complete customization, because other than caps on points in a given soul based on your current level, you could do whatever you wanted with them. You unlock new skills based on the points you put into each soul, and you can swap the souls out with other ones if you wish to, so long as you’ve done the quests to obtain them. Souls are not restricted by race, only by the class you choose to play as, and there are seven for each of the four classes. On top of that, you can have up to four different roles, similar to primary and secondary specs in WoW, where you can come up with entirely different builds. Feel like being a warlock today? Or your group needs additional heals in times of struggle? Bam, you can just switch roles.
Another thing I grew to enjoy, even though I struggled with it at first, was opening and closing rifts. Rifts are kind of like PUGs, only across the map instead of in dungeons (though there’s dungeons too), and groups can come together simply by being nearby when a rift is open or an invasion is coming your way. But the thing I like the most about doing rifts and invasions? No one talks. DPS kills the mobs they need to kill, healers heal who need to be healed, and melee (usually) help out the casters that pulled. Even on the invasion bosses, which are essentially the equivalent of raid bosses, people typically don’t say a word. We just focus on downing it and then move on. Which means that I can get the enjoyment of working with a team without the constant ableism, sexism, racism et al. We do what we need to do, and that’s that. I was reluctant at first because I still get nervous with groups of people, given my experiences with PUGing in WoW. But when I realized that people don’t need to talk to handle the rifts, I found myself purposefully seeking them out. I can’t say anything about dungeons yet, as for obvious reasons I haven’t given them a shot. But otherwise, I find myself enjoying playing again.
And have I mentioned the levels of customization available for things like hair and skin color? Instead of just a few pre-established templates, you can choose among a wide spectrum available for your character’s race. This is something that’s bugged me in games for a long time, because frequently characters are whitewashed or limited to generalizations of more ‘well-known’ races, erasing everyone in-between. Rift goes beyond that and lets you, the player, decide the racial representation of your character, instead of being forced into limited options from the developers, options that are typically affected by subconscious elements of systematic racism.
There’s just a few problems.
First, no (current) support of addons. Seeing as I use addons to help me play with my disabilities, this has been quite a blow. It’s taking a lot of time to figure out how to manage despite this. So far it’s been working alright, but I still struggle with cooldowns, remembering the cast time of my skills and thus when to refresh them, watching threat, and bags. Oh the bags. In WoW I used Arkinventory, which not only threw all of my items into one bag window, but let me organize the items into various categories based on type. Without that, I find myself having to rearrange my bags all the time because not only can I not find what I need, but it makes my OCD twitch to not have like items in one of my five bags.
Second, no subtitles or colorblind mode. The lack of subtitles (even the option) left me very confused with the opening sequences since my hearing was acting up at the time. This is something that many players have been complaining about since pre-release, and they still haven’t been included. Same with colorblind mode, though I’m not personally affected by that.
The armor. Oh, the armor. Seriously, with armor like that, it’s no wonder we all died. And of course, these asinine design choices are used for female-depicted characters and NPCs, while the male-depicted get to wear shit that actually looks practical. I say looks practical because the rate of which one can swim while wearing plate armor makes no logical sense. But at least they have a reasonable level of deterrence to getting stabbed in the stomach or thighs. And of course, icons are misleading – what makes you think will be a pair of pants (or even shorts) turns out to be nothing more than panties. Those three letters make a world of difference, I assure you.
The elements of psychophobia and ableism are still there, such as references to ‘madness filling your mind’ that pop up in the center of your screen during invasions in Freemarch. And people are still assholes in chat, as usual. But I’m still finding myself enjoying my time in Telara more than I was in Azeroth as of late. Eventually, *** and I canceled our subscriptions to WoW. The fun just isn’t there anymore.
Here’s hoping the enjoyment stays with me throughout my journey in Rift.