Monday, October 22, 2012

Musing on the Nature of the Ascended in Rift

Rift employs a plot-specific reason for why it's world is full of powerful adventurers who seem able to defy death and return from the grave: basically you're playing ascended, a form of enheriar who is resurrected by the gods to do their bidding, and who will continue to be resurrected for as long as it takes to get the job done.

The game's quest text lines and story plots are very specific about the many things going on in Telara, but it uses the "neutral participant" approach to presenting them, which is to say your character is never given a voice or opinion on quests; you're only option is "accept or do not." This has the downside of making quest texts less involved. It has the upside of making you realize that it's entirely possible that the ascended aren't quite "alive" or human in thought, anymore. This becomes especially evident when you get quests with some fairly morally or ethically ambiguous rationales from various quest-givers. At some point I started to get the "Would you kindly...?" feel from Bioshock in Rift; the suspicion that a hidden subtext to the storyline is that the ascended are literally resurrection survivors who are compelled to do the bidding of mortals specifically because that's the only reason they've been let off of death's leash by the valkyrie-like servitors of the gods. Viewed from this angle, it gives Rift a kind of weird, creepy undertone.

It also makes the artificially-induced resurrection of the Defiant ascended that much more nebulous; they're manufacturing their ascended and sending them back in time; the defiant engineers know their creations are bound by contract to complete the jobs ahead of them, basically doomed to fight, die, and be reborn time and again. But then, the Defiant managed to damage the world with their dimensional tampering and they get to see what things look like at the very end, so I suppose one could forgive them for taking extreme measures to right wrongs.

Storm Legion is out in a few weeks (Nov. 13th). Looking forward to seeing what sort of new material it adds to the broad lore of Rift. I wish Trion would get its act together and write some novels...even some graphic novels (of which there is only one right now) or visual guides to this game. Anything! It's got a much tighter and more interesting web of lore than many other MMOs out there right now.

Then, maybe someone could explain to me how these guys fit in, along with the mysterious invasion portals of House Fluffington...

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