Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jingle All The Way: Rift

Trion really missed a trick when they named the Rift midwinter holiday Yuletide. I can't believe no-one thought of Riftmas!  But then, MMOs have always shied away from mentioning Christmas directly, preferring to reference its pagan precursors and commercial spin-offs. Much less controversial that way.

It's hard now to recall the times when an MMO holiday celebration came as a real novelty. There are so many these days that some games even give you an in-game calendar to keep track of them all. Occasionally the celebrations belong entirely to the imaginary world in which they take place or mark an anniversary in the life of the game but mostly they are lightly-disguised analogues of real-world events. Errolisi Marr, Norrath's Goddess of Love, holds her Erollisi Day celebrations right around the time we're all opening our Valentine's cards for example, and turkeys tremble in Azeroth when the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday rolls around just as WoW players sit down to their Thanksgiving meal.

Still Life with Fish
And so to Telara. A society riven by internecine conflict, locked in existential struggle, trapped in a world where at any moment the sky may spew out a roiling, thrashing rift filled with extra-planar nightmares bent on nothing less than the complete and utter destruction of life itself. Time to break out the fairy lights!

In fact there does seem to be some shaky internal logic. Let's forget for a moment that Telara appears to be a world without seasons, which calls the very concept of a Midwinter festival into question. Let's forget that the entire continent is overrun by psychotic dragon cultists and Cthonic hordes. Really, let's forget all that. If the people living there can forget it, then who are we to argue?

As far as I can work out, back in the summer during Rift's first Big Event, one of the six dragons trying to invade Telara was killed. I haven't done the Greenscale's Blight raid and there is much dispute over whether the Greenscale in question is the "actual" dragon or an avatar thereof. All the usual MMO nonsense. The upshot, though, is that the Fae who came under his control are now free.

No CRB checks in Telara, it seems.
And apparently there's nothing a free Bogling likes better than to slip on the old red felt jacket and bobble hat and make like  a Department Store Santa.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Rift's Yuletide festival is how very closely it follows the established Rift Event pattern. It's exactly the same grab-bag of minor lore quests, non-combat dailies and special rifts that we've come to expect. I'm not even going to go through them in any detail. They are pretty good if you like that sort of thing, which as it happens I do.

Oh, you look cute now...
What I did really enjoy was the level of detail. I might find the idea of draping decorations all over a city that's supposed to fighting for its very right to exist pretty ridiculous. (Okay, there's really no need for the "might" in that last sentence). Nevertheless, if you 're going to decorate you may as well do it in style and Trion have thrown style on by the bucketful.

I loved the strings of lights that really flash on and off like proper Christmas lights. I loved the Bogling belief that no decorating theme is complete without fish. The trees and the piles of presents are pretty much pitch-perfect. The clouds that hover above the heads of the humbugging Yuletide deniers, literally raining on their personal parade, are a touch of genius.

And yet something isn't right. But that will have to wait for next time.


  1. The most amusing thing for me so far has been the quest to go out and slay creatures from air rifts in order to retrieve stolen holiday cheer. Said cheer is apparently a tangible, physical object that must be looted from the corpses of these creatures.

    Air rifts seemed to be running amok for most of the past weekend, but on Sunday they seemed to be taking a break. Rather than the usual dozen out on Stonefield, I could only find three. I wonder what happened.

  2. And on Monday a lot of air rifts on the map that turn out to be broken ice rifts (mobless) when you get there??? Is it broken or is it some kind of secret special ice related season thing fro Riftmas?.....hmmm


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