RIFT Preview (PC)
Launching on the 1st of March (US) and 4th of March (EU), currently in open beta, RIFT is a brand new next generation MMO from Trion Worlds. RIFT has been in development for about four years and has been in closed beta since late last year. Promising next generation graphics combined with a dynamic world setting RIFT has caused quite a stir in the MMO community.
We had a chance to play RIFT during some of the closed beta sessions and now that the game is in open beta prior to the full launch we want to bring you some of the highlights of the game and give our opinion of what awaits gamers should they venture into the world of Telara.
Set in the world of Telara, which was created by the Gods thousands of years ago, RIFT drops us into the midst of an epic battle between two factions as the planes of reality threatening to break free and run amok. Threatening to pull the world of Telara apart are mysterious rifts (hence the name of the game) allowing other planes of reality to seep into this world. The rifts allow the planes of Life, Death, Fire, Water, Air and Earth to invade Telara at any time… more on this later.
Into the middle of this turmoil steps our brave character, hoping to seek glory and fortune and avoid a painful and prolonged death.
Races & Factions
RIFT provides us a choice of two factions when creating our character, either the Guardians or the Defiant. The Guardians are fated by the gods and have returned from the afterlife to save Telara from the planar invasions. The race choices for the Guardians include High Elves, Mathosian and Dwarves. The Defiant rejected the gods and have put their faith in man and his technology to save Telara. The races belonging to the Defiant are the Bahmi, Eth and the Kelari.
RIFT will provide both PVP (player vs. player) and PVE (player vs. environment) severs. PVP will allow the different factions to attack each other on sight, where PVE will leave the player able to opt out of this aspect of the game. Interestingly even on PVE servers the opposite faction will play a part in the game by means of invasions by NPCs (non-player characters).
The level of character customisation in RIFT is also very impressive. For a basic male or female body type almost every aspect of the avatar can be altered. Height, weight, skin colour, hair colour, facial features, even markings can be changed via the character creation tool.
Each base calling will be familiar to anyone who has played a fantasy MMO:
This basic description of the callings however barely begins to cover the level of customisation and variety that RIFT offers. Each of the callings has seven classes from which we can choose. This offers an amazing level of variety that we can select, even from within a single calling.
RIFT also offers the ability to select up to three classes from which to select abilities, and all this is asked of us within the first 5 levels of playing the game. With the number of callings and classes to choose from one thing that RIFT players won’t be is bored with the different types of play style that can be supported.
In later levels we can learn more classes over the original three we selected and we can create additional soul slots by parting with coin to our calling trainer. This allows us to choose three new classes to combine in any way we wish which we can switch to at any time (out of combat of course).
The level of complexity of the calling and class combinations in RIFT may well be frightening to brand new MMO players, although the game does try and guide us through the maze by offering suggestions as to which class combinations work together best. It’s certain that those MMO players looking for an in-depth class system will be in gaming heaven when they get their hands on RIFT.
The gameplay of RIFT is the classic key bind to action MMO type. Unlike the other recent new MMO, DC Universe Online, RIFT opts to stick with the well-known combat model of binding spells and abilities to hotkeys.
The big draw in gameplay terms for RIFT is the amazingly dynamic nature of the world. Unlike other MMOs where the world is fairly static and little changes over time in RIFT the world is constantly changing around us. This is achieved by use of the rifts, or invasions, which will randomly appear anywhere at any given time.
When we say anywhere, we mean anywhere. We could log off in a town all safe and sound and log back in to find the town has been overrun by fire demons or the opposite faction and suddenly find ourselves running for our lives. This occurs from even the lowest levels, making sure we are fully emerged in this aspect of gameplay from the start and not something we only find at end game.
The rifts also play into RIFTs second major gameplay aspect, public questing. While not new or unique to MMOs the public questing implemented by Trion Worlds definitely appears to be the best example of this we’ve seen.
Public questing ensures that everyone who engages in stopping a rift will get credit, even if we aren’t in the same group as other players engaged in combat. When we happen upon a rift we are automatically offered the chance to group with other players in the nearby area, however even if we decline this offer we still get credit for the actions we take will fighting the creatures streaming out the rift.
As a "next generation" MMO RIFT offers impressive graphics thanks to the use of the heavily enhanced Gambryo Engine and this gives us an experience which surpasses the majority of similar titles.Â This is the same engine we have seen in games such as Fallout: New Vegas which was impressive in some ways (such as the draw distance) but the colour pallet used by Trion and the games visual style really allow them to move to a different level.
The world of Telara is beautifully rendered in the game and is very detailed. When the rifts open up the effects are impressive in their own way depending on the plane from which the rift has spawned. From the green giant plants in the earth rift to the burning fire giants from the fire rifts each effect looks amazing and this is topped off with quality character animation where actions are fluid and appear realistic.
WoW this seems familiar
So it would be difficult to cover any new MMO without mentioning World of WarCraft. As the biggest MMO currently running, WarCraft is the yardstick by which all new contenders to its throne are measured.
Trion Worlds have made a number of smart choices in their development of RIFT as it compares to WarCraft. The standard UI layout of RIFT is very similar to that of WarCraft, a large number of hotkeys are the same as they are in WarCraft and the questing system in RIFT will be very familiar to WarCraft players.What this means is that any WarCraft player wishing to try out RIFT will be immediately comfortable with the way RIFT plays and won’t have to relearn hotkeys which they’ve been used to pressing for more than 5 years.
It would be unfair to just tag RIFT as a WarCraft clone however as there are many differences between the two games. The concept of dynamic gaming is really brought to life in RIFT and the depth of the class system is very different to WarCraft.
A number of the play styles will also be new to WarCraft players, such as the Mage that provides heals to themselves and party members by doing damage on the target. Or the Bard, a class that will provide support to his party by the use of magical music.
With a dynamic world environment and a massively deep class system it seems that RIFT is heading for a strong start.
The open beta is available until the 21st of February and can still be registered for at RIFT BETA.
RIFT will launch on the 1st of March (US) and 4th of March (EU). The game can be pre-ordered at RIFTGame.com