Recently we had a sneak peak at RIFT, the new MMO from Trion Worlds and we also had the chance to sit down and speak with lead content developer William Cook at the launch event. We've been quietly excited about RIFT for some time, having had the chance to play during the BETA events. We've also seen a rising level of expectation in the general MMO community as the game got closer to its launch date.
The head start programme, for players who pre-ordered the game, ran from the 28th February and many people with this access that we've spoken to are enjoying it immensely, however you might expect that since they've paid up front for RIFT. Now the game has launched in both the US and EU and is open to all new players so today, after some significant play time, we have our full review.
RIFT is a persistent fantasy MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) set in the world of Telara. Telara is a world at conflict with itself, not only are the two key factions engaged is a bitter protracted war, the land itself is being ripped apart by tears in the fabric of the universe allowing monsters from the elemental planes to rush into the world.
In Telara two aforementioned factions, the Guardians and the Defiant, are opposed in their beliefs. The Guardians are fated by the gods, returned from the afterlife to keep the lands of Telara safe. The Defiant on the other hand have forsaken the gods and have put their faith in the hands and ingenuity of man and we can choose either side when creating our character. The playable races available are all humanoid in form, we don't have any orcs or undead in Telara so for the Guardians we can select from the stout Dwarves, the High Elves or the Mathosians. The Defiant are able to choose from the Bahmi, the Eth or the Kelari.
RIFT uses the standard MMO click button to cast spell/use ability mechanic. This is of course a familiar gameplay style for anyone who has played an MMO before. Many of the standard features of RIFT will be recognised by MMO players; in fact many of the standard key bindings for the game are ones which are common to other MMOs. This makes the basic play of RIFT easy to pick up for new players.
One of the key gameplay features of RIFT that really sets it aside from other MMOs is its use of dynamic content. The rifts themselves are tears in the world that can open anywhere at any time. These could be out in the wilderness, or next to a major city, nowhere is safe. If the rifts are not dealt with quickly enough, roaming groups of mobs will leave the rift and attack nearby camps or cities.
These events occur frequently and throughout all the levels of the game, even at the lowest levels which ensures that we are familiar with how these work from the start. When these events occur the area is made into a public questing zone, which means that anyone nearby will be placed in a group and helping close the rift will earn rewards that can be exchanged for new equipment.
RIFT also has a distinct class system that offers a wide variety of play styles. It offers four basic classes called callings. These are classic archetypes from the fantasy genre, the Warrior, the Cleric, the Rogue and the Mage. The Warrior is the up close combat class wearing heavy armour, while the Rogue is the melee or ranged combat class utilising light armour. The Mage calling is the ranged caster class and the Cleric is the ranged healing class.
Although these are classic archetypes seen in many fantasy games where RIFT really delivers is in the sub classes that we can take advantage of. Each calling has eight classes that can be selected and these can be mixed and matched then we also have the ability to pick up to four souls, a mix of three sub classes that can be put together.
This may all seem very overwhelming, especially to newer players to the MMO genre, however the game does a very good job of helping you make sensible choices, suggesting good combinations of sub classes that work well together. We also don't need to worry about additional souls until the later levels when we have more experience of the game and understand what works.
What this system does do however is give us a wide choice of how to play our character and when we purchase additional souls from our calling the option to completely change our play style at any time is available.
The graphics in RIFT are stunning and certainly test our gaming rig on Ultra mode. Starting with the character creation options Trion Worlds have done a fantastic job of bringing the world of Telara to life on our monitor.
The options for creating your character are very extensive; we're talking about a bit more that skin colour and hairstyle here. From being able to alter our characters height and weight to facial features such as the angle of the nose and placement of the eyes Trion Worlds have gone all out to provide enough tools to ensure that no two players look the same. The detail on the models is also very impressive, with little aspects such as skin markings being clearly visible during game play.
The environment is also richly detailed. Although we've only been able to see the first few zones during the time we were playing in the beta and head start we were very impressed by the level of detail of the lands and the very solid feel of the world around us. Additionally we didn't see any clipping of the world which can often happen in online games.
The animation of the player's actions is smooth and only leads to immerse us into the world and even when large numbers of players are in the same area, fighting a rift or in the major capitals, we didn't see any slow down on the graphics or spell effects.
The audio provided in RIFT is very good. Each zone or city has its own theme which fits well with the mood of the area. From calming music in the capital cities to frenetic rhythm of battle we didn't find ourselves reaching for the music off switch while playing.
While not all quest text is voice acted in RIFT it does contain a fair amount of scripted non-player character interaction. These tend to focus on the story telling points in the game and we found these to be well acted throughout.
The sound effects in RIFT are also very effective, especially the combat effects. The sound of smashing our mace on our targets shield or unleashing a volley of fire on our enemy is very satisfying. When we block a blow with our own shield or smash it into our enemies face to interrupt their spell casting there is a very loud crunch, which we love to hear.
With RIFT, Trion Worlds are clearly setting out their stall from the start. It's not trying to be massively different from other MMOs out there and any regular players of the biggest MMO currently on the market will feel very familiar with most of RIFTs mechanics from the very start.
It does however add a number of very cool features that have been missing from other games. The dynamic nature of the rift system really brings a sense of danger to the world. At any time a rift could spawn at our location and we'll either be fighting off waves of mobs or running for our life.
The calling system also adds something new to the traditional play style of classes in a fantasy MMO. The breadth of choice allows us to switch up our role at the drop of a hat and ensures that it will be a long time until we get bored of playing the same calling.
Overall RIFT has gotten off to an excellent start and we feel will quickly gain a very solid following. If Trion Worlds capitalise on this good start and push the game forward RIFT may well be the first serious challenger to the current king of the MMOs.
||A dynamic world where things are never the same from one day to the next combined with a deep and rich calling system makes RIFTs game play very addictive.
||Highly detailed in game graphics with excellent customisability of the player characters.
||The background music is nice and fits well into the game; scripted voice acting is well done throughout.
||Monthly subscription fee is in line with current market rate.
(Not an Average)
||A very solid start from Trion Worlds, expect RIFT to gain a solid following very quickly.