Whether playing RIFT during beta 6 or surfing the Interwebs, I keep reading about how RIFT is like so many other games. I keep hearing how the game is like World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Aion and/or EverQuest 2, just to site a few examples. But RIFT isn't just attempting to attract your everyday fantasy MMORPG player. Oh no. RIFT is trying to attract players from one of the largest western MMOs, Eve Online.
Now, I know you may find that claim hard to believe. After all, Eve Online is a hardcore sandbox science-fiction MMORPG while RIFT appears to be a more laid back theme park fantasy game. But I actually have some evidence on my side. I'll report, you decide.
The name - Mention to a player from Eve Online a game called RIFT and he will at least have the image of the classic Minmatar frigate Rifter flash before his eyes. An obvious attempt to draw players from Eve. I'm not falling for that story that RIFT refers to the invasions that appear from other dimensions. Here is a dirty little secret. The original title of the game was Heroes of Telara, then RIFT: Planes of Telara before the title was shortened to the Eve-friendly RIFT.
The lore - The main conflict in RIFT between the Guardians and the Defiant reminds me a lot of the conflict between the Amarr and the Minmatar. Both the Guardians and Amarr are very religious folks who somehow manage to use the will of the gods to justify their oppression of the Defiant and the Minmatar, although in the current history of both worlds the Guardians and Amarr aren't doing too good of a job oppressing their opposing factions. And just to make the link to Eve more obvious, notice how Trion named their faction after the tech 2 Amarr logistics ship of the same name?
Game play - Okay, how in the world is the game play in RIFT anything like the game play in Eve Online? Actually, I found two important similarities in the two games. The first is the ease of switching between roles. In Eve, if you want to play a different role, all you have to do is jump in a different ship. For example, I can go from a PvE mission runner to a PvP hauler dodging pirates in low-sec just as fast as Scotty the docking manager will let me. From what I understand of RIFT, a player can change roles even faster. I saw that a player can have up to four roles, which look like talent builds, at will. So depending on my mood and the needs of the group, as a rogue I can go from an avoidance tank to a support bard to a stealth ranger. Sort of like going from a bait ship to a logistics ship to a sniper in Eve. One character, many styles of play.
The second is the concept that healers can tank. One of the things I love about Eve is the ingenuity of the community in coming up with bait ships. For those that don't play Eve, a bait ship is a ship that is so enticing to attack that the enemy will attack it and disregard all other ships. Or in other words, the ship's mere existence is a permanent taunt to the enemy. One of the classes of ships that can fill that role is the logistics ship, which is Eve's version of a healer. I've watched during the Alliance tournaments as logistics ships served that role quite well.
Listening to The RIFT Podcast I've heard how clerics can heal an incredible amount of damage and actually tank a rift invasion. I didn't really believe it until I was attacked by an invasion and managed to heal my way though all the damage 3-4 mobs could do until those around me could bring them down. I guess the Eve concept of how much dps you can absorb might become a popular measure of how good of a tank you are in RIFT.
Scotty - Finally, the last piece of evidence that Trion is trying to attract players from Eve Online. While playing in the lower levels of the game I found Scotty's Gaming Dice, Scotty's Pencil and Scotty's Homework. On The RIFT Podcast #29 the crew talked about who Scotty could be. Cindy Bowens, the community manager for RIFT, denied that Scotty was RIFT's Executive Producer Scott Hartsman. That means Scotty has to be Scotty the docking manager from Eve Online. What better way to entice Eve players into RIFT than with the promise of finally meeting Scotty? If CCP wants to keep their players, they need to show less of Sansha in their videos and more of Scotty!
Reality Check - Okay everyone, RIFT is not an Eve clone in a fantasy setting. If anything, that honor goes to Darkfall. But neither is it a WoW, WAR, Aion or EQ2 clone. I realize that people have a natural tendency to compare new things with things they have experienced before and that is driving a lot of the RIFT discussion. But try to judge and enjoy the game on its own merits. Remember, once you log in, you're not in Azeroth anymore. Now to find Scotty and get him back to New Eden. His replacement is taking way too long to undock my Orca!