It's been very interesting to watch Rift change since launch, like watching an MMO on fast-forward. I understand why Trion decided to add the preset option but like most of the changes they've made it takes the game further than ever away from what made it so exciting and intriguing in beta. More than that, it chips away at one of Rift's USPs (if you can have more than one unique selling point).
|Nice to have the place to myself for once|
Rift's Soul Tree system has often been praised for its flexibility and originality even by commentators who otherwise didn't find much to like about the game. Similarly well-received was the frenzied pace of zone invasions and rifts during beta and around launch, when quest hubs were often overrun and had to be reclaimed by bands of players and system messages to "Find somewhere safe to camp" when the server was about to come down drew catcalls of derision as everyone yelled back that nowhere was safe.
|An apocalypse is no reason to ignore personal hygiene|
Most MMOs follow this path, from complexity to simplicity but I'm used to it taking five years not ten months and it makes me very glad I was there for the beta and jumped in with both feet at launch. I'm sure that if I came fresh to Rift now, never having played the game before, I'd have a great time for two or three months, just like I did in WoW when I joined it after it'd already been running for more than five years but I'm also pretty sure that, just like back then in WoW, I'd find myself reading about how things used to be and thinking "y'know, that really sounds like it would have been more fun than how it is now..."
Which isn't to say that MMOs shouldn't adapt to make it easier for latecomers to join in. I think they should. MMOs can bloat and become unmanageable for newcomers after a time and things that are fun when you're all in it together can seem frustrating when there's only you doing them. In the good old days that took years. Now it seems it just takes a few months.
|One scoop or two?|
What it It emphasizes for me is how worthwhile it is to jump on MMOs at the earliest opportunity. Get into the beta if you can, even if you plan on playing when the game goes Live. Maybe especially then. I've heard many people say that the most fun they ever had in certain MMOs was in beta and it's been my experience too, at least on occasion. Often that's just the excitement and the camaraderie but not infrequently it's because whatever was fresh and new about the game just doesn't survive the commercial realities post-launch.
Beta aside, If you know you're going to play at some point then play at launch. If it's not polished enough for your taste you can come back later and maybe it'll be better for you then with the corners smoothed off, but if you do like it you'll be getting a shot at something that will only be available for a limited period. And if Trion's example is anything to go by, that period could be lot more limited than it used to be.