During a discussion on Twitter about the infamous Jef Reahard 1 hour gameplay session of Rift, I started to think on if that hour can really tell you anything.
The reason for this is the first 20 levels of Age of Conan.
Here is a game with a winning hour of gameplay that does not tell you the whole story. First, you are not given the requisite "Fetch me this" or "Kill 10 of this" type of quest. You basically are left standing on a beach and must discover your roots. You must figure out where to go. Of course they leave you pointing in a certain direction that leads you to a screaming woman who gives you a quest...but, you get the drift.
The story starts to lead you through, but it is an open and exhilarating hour that gets you to where you need to be. The battles become more intense, the journey through that jungle feels natural and how you should progress. Combat does not feel the same (unless you're a caster, but the casting mechanic is still a bit different than most MMO's). There are not even any of the infamous "?" over heads to lead you on.
Basically the first 20 levels of Conan has "buy" written all over it. Funcom knew this, and sold the game based on it's beta and those 20 levels.
Then reality hits. If you play an hour of Age of Conan, then you will be sold short. You will not know the true game until after several hours.
Now, of course, this is not to say that Rift's first hour is not boring. It kinda is. But, would holding out for more gameplay have helped a player like Jef know if there was more to the game? Even though his interests are clearly not geared toward this game, whose not to say that the next game may be his style...but, he gives up, as the first hour did not tell him the whole story.
Age of Conan is clearly the marker here for understanding that just one hour of gameplay is not enough.
Can you name another game which does not really tell the whole story in that first hour?