Rift Review (PC)
Rift, by Trion Worlds, is a fantasy MMORPG set in a world called Telara. At the end of a civil war on Telara a disaster ocurred which is causing several planes of existence to converge on one another. From one of these planes of existence the “death god” Regulos (sounds like the god of bowel movements – Ed) has decided he does not like the inhabitants of Telara and so he is sending his evil minions to Telara to..eh..be evil. He does this by opening Rifts between the different planes and beaming his minions onto the surface of Telara.
There are two warring factions in Telara: the Guardians and the Defiants. Both blame each other for what is happening but instead of banding together to fight off the scourge that threatens their world they have decided that not only will they fight Regulos’s army but they will take any opportunity they can find to kill each other as well. The Guardians are the arrogant self-righteous do-gooders who believe that their gods will come to save the day. The Defiants blame the gods for everything. They have decided they know better and are set on using a mix of magic and technology to kill everyone they don’t like.
When creating a new character you first choose your faction, your race and then your class. There are four classes to choose from: Warrior, Mage, Cleric or Rogue. All that is left to do is make up a name and change your character’s appearance using a character creator which is nothing out of the ordinary.
If you have played any of the other fantasy based MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings online you will feel right at home as soon as you enter the game with your shiny new character. You find yourself resurrected in a building standing beside an NPC with a floating question mark above his\her head. Your first quest is to talk to another NPC in a different room also with a floating question mark above their head. This first quest is where you get your first taste of Soul Attunement which allows you to fine tune your class by picking sub classes.
You can choose three sub classes out of the 8 you are presented with and the game does give you hints as to which sub classes work well together. You do not get to choose all of your sub classes at once; you get your first one on the first quest and you will have all three after an hour or two of gameplay. As you level up you are given points to assign to the soul trees for each of your sub classes. These can be used to strengthen attacks and defenses and also unlock abilities.
To say I chose the wrong sub classes on my first try would be an understatement. I decided to try a Necromancer Mage as it sounded suave and sophisticated. I had a lot of trouble at the start of the game as my minion was useless and I was wearing paper armor. I gave up pretty quickly with that character as I was constantly being take down to 1/4 of my health by one enemy at the same level as me.
So I re-rolled and this time I decided I wanted to be a Warrior so I could dish out some hurt. I picked the Champion, Warlord and Beastmaster sub classes so that not only did I do an impressive amount of damage, I also got a pet to help me along the way. I enjoyed myself a lot more with this character and even tried out one of the PvP capture the flag style games once I’d reached level 10.
The sub class system, while daunting, allows for some very finely tuned characters although it does seem that the choices are limited if you want to play solo through a lot of the quests. It will be interesting to see how this plethora of choice will pan out for the end of game content. Will there be a place for some of the stranger combinations or will you be laughed at and kicked out of raids because you are not using the standard Warrior template that everyone will inevitably be using by then?
So far Rift has not shown anything that hasn’t been done already so I’ll move onto the game’s namesake, Rifts. When you are out and about doing quests you will sometimes notice a big swirling vortex of dark energy in the sky with big black tentacles reaching from it. This is a Rift. Rifts occur randomly throughout Telara and if left unchecked can allow the enemy a foothold in the area. If the enemy gains a foothold they can overrun nearby towns and cut off access to vendors and quest givers. It generally takes more than one person to close a Rift. You have to fight through waves of enemies until you reach the commander. Once the commander is beaten the Rift closes. This is a good way to meet other players in the game as you are thrown together into a group and the experience reward is more than enough motivation to join in.
I would have liked to have seen the effects of leaving a Rift open too long but my experience with the starting area of the game was that they were swarmed with players as soon as they opened. Also, while the timing of the Rift spawns were random the locations did not seem to be. In the starting area the Rifts spawned in the same 2 or 3 locations.
Rift is a well polished MMORPG which has taken the best bits from the other well established titles. This makes it accessible to new players as well as familiar to those with previous MMORPG experience. However, Rift offers nothing to tempt people away from the likes of WoW and I can only hope that Trion Worlds is not counting on this. If they continue to develop Telara and entice people new to MMOs or people who are disenfranchised with other MMOs then Rift will be around for a long time.
8 plane tearing dimensional holes out of 10