Plane Sailing: A Closer Look At Rift

By Quintin Smith on November 30th, 2010 at 3:25 pm.

Last Friday, on the way to break in my new copy of Cosmic Encounter, I was able to rendezvous with Trion Worlds to have a quick look at their upcoming massively multiplayer game, Rift, previously Rift: Planes of Telara. No inventive payment plans or mould-busting design to discuss here- RIFT is a straight-up MMORPG that was described to me as the “fully fledged MMO that gamers have been waiting for.” Have you been waiting, readers? Because Rift does have a fair bit going for it.

The idea at the heart of Rift is that of the rifts themselves, tears in dimensional fabric of the world which randomly pop up around the game world. The land of Telara is actually located at a crossroads between six different planes (Life, Death, Fire, Earth, Wind and Water, each having some fun art and info on the official site), and when these rifts open one of these planes begin leaking through. Which is to say, aggressive mobs of monsters begin appearing. If left alone a rift will eventually become a foothold, and begin spawning ‘invasions’ which will take over whole NPC towns. Look, here’s a fire rift:

Trion call this a ‘dynamic content system’, and it’s designed to shake up the proceedings up a bit. An open rift means there’s plenty of loot to be had if players team up and close it by defeating a series of mobs, and some of the best loot in the game can be acquired if players defeat these stages fast enough, thereby unlocking a bonus stage fighting some special bonus monster. The flip side of this is that you might be on your way to collect a quest reward, only to find the settlement overrun with blubbering water elementals, or cackling manifestations of death or the like.

The question of how to deal with Telara’s rift problem is, historically, what created the two factions you choose from at character creation. One side, The Guardians, were hand-picked by the Gods for their religious fervous, and are now intent on saving the world by proving the worth of their races. They think the best way to save the world is to stay faithful and fight the rifts back with zeal and a shiny sword.

Meanwhile, in the words of Trion, “while the Guardians run around Telara building temples, sticking their noses in everyone’s business, and desperately praying for a miracle, the Defiant plan on actually delivering one, even if it means being branded as heretics and operating outside the laws of the land.” The Defiant are technophiles, basically, and intend on fighting the forces beyond the rifts with eldritch superweapons, making them something of an allegiance no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to sign up with that?

One of the areas of Rift I was shown was the Defiant starting area, which is located at the end of the world. The rifts have claimed Telara, and all is lost. Your character is a great hero ressurrected by Defiant scientists, and your first job is to proceed to the experimental machine that will send you back in time to save the world. See? Awesome.

As to your choice of classes, well. On the one hand, you’ve got a simple choice ahead of you. Warrior, Mage, Cleric or Rogue. There’s just one little twist. Once you’ve chosen your class, you end up picking three more.

Basically, your character ends up having three ‘soul’ slots, and in each you can put a soul, a sort of subclass, relating to your class, each with their own skills, strengths and weaknesses. Your Rogue therefore might end up an Assassin-Bard-Riftstalker, and your Mage a Stormcaller-Dominator-Warlock, and each time you level up you’ll drop a point in one of these three souls’ talent trees, with additional soul-specific abilities pinging into existence as you put more and more points into any one tree.

It looks like it’ll give players a solid block of options to chew over, not least because your character can swap easily between multiple soul loadouts (maybe you’d build one one for soloing, one for dungeons, another for bosses). So, yes, your Cleric will always be a Cleric, but the flexibility you’ve got within Clerichood is really impressive.

Outside of all this, Telara just looks like a perfectly solid, if unexciting piece of work. There are pretty monsters, dungeons and levels. There’s PvP and loot. It’s very much working within the framework of what’s come before, and in the looming shadow of Guild Wars 2 that’s not an easy thing to do. But we must stay watchful. When Rift launches in 2011, RPS will be diving in for a closer look.

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27 Comments »

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  1. utharda says:

    it actually sounds sort of interesting. which at this point, is hard for an mmo.

  2. pakoito says:

    Ok, before I waste 5 minutes of my unprecious time…is this article worth reading or just a publireport?

    • pakoito says:

      Also, I demand a WIT on Vindictus. That meatpiece looks sexy Monster Hunter like.

    • Eclipse says:

      Vindictus looks cool but it’s us only at the moment D:

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      If you like interminable, invariable grinds in which you run through the same randomized, yet somehow identical corridors killing the same identical creatures, slashing at them in a series of weak, mechanical if/thens that rarely feels fluid or satisfying and finally wearing their skins and faces as increasingly more hideous armor, you’ll freaking love Vindictus.

    • Danarchist says:

      I like vindictus, its not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it’s a hell of allot less boring than lord of the grind online or Eve(ryonethatplaysthisisasadist)
      The dungeons are very samey for the first 15 levels or so, very redundant. After you get past the “Free boats” to what amounts to the token sink content it gets much more interesting. Until you clear the beginner content everyone has the same armor, same weapons, etc and that can turn someone with a short attention span off. The combat though gets increasingly twitchy and much more strategic as you level. The dungeon designs finally breaks away from “wall slam gnoll, loot, craft armor, wall slam same gnolls three more times to finish set…repeat”
      So you criticism is only valid till lvl 15 or so.

      I would like a WIT for it too!

    • a says:

      I didn’t like it. But I don’t like MMOs. If you don’t like MMOs you probably won’t like Vindictus. You’re welcome!

  3. kastanok says:

    Boring, boring… uninspired… might be interesting… boring… ooh, is that the Overlord in the bottom screenshot?

  4. bearlow says:

    Yeah man , very interesting “Elemental Invasion” the game , now in stores . This right here is the WoW – killer , EA Bioware got nothing on this with their SwTOR.
    Can’t wait to beat the **** out of them elementals , hope they drop phat lewt.

  5. utharda says:

    eh from my perspective, its got some of the dynamic allure and flexible character design of guildwars, without the… guildwarsyness of guildwars. I just can’t seem to get into guildwars. the instancing is too much.

    and be gentle, I’m in a timezone that still needs its coffee. not to mention its sleep.

  6. Kits says:

    I’m rather on the fence about this. In some ways it sounds nice, but there’s a lot about it, not least it’s looks, that are rather offputting too. Will give it a try, as I do practically every mmo, but doubtful more than that, unless it’s something really special.

  7. Mike says:

    Looks solid, but as you say, GW2 is likely to crush any startup MMOs like this. Shame.

    • Nick says:

      The thing is, sub free MMOs mean you are able to play ones with subs as well, should you desire, without feeling guilty about spending the extra money.

  8. Ignorant Texan says:

    This may just open whom ever uses it to Trion marketing spam, but here’s an extra Beta key(it’ll just register for this month’s Beta events, no guarantee on getting into the Beta{s}):

    http://www.riftgame.com/en/

    Or you can just hit the ‘Enter the Rift Beta’ button from the banner ad I ignored.

    Beta Key: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    If you use it, please post, so I can edit this post.

    • Mithrandir0x says:

      I’ve used the key, so thank you very much for the beta key :3

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      You are most welcome. Hopefully, one of us gets into at least one of the December events. :D

  9. derella says:

    I’m looking forward to at least giving it a try. The beta starts on the 3rd :)

  10. manveruppd says:

    But GW2 won’t have secondary classes the way the first one did, unfortunately :( so this game may end up filling a hole in our hearts…

  11. Premium User Badge

    shinygerbil says:

    I only got as far as COSMIC ENCOUNTER.

  12. Shadram says:

    WoW’s reboot has eaten my life for the last week or so. If ever I can escape it’s clutches again (I was 6 months WoW-sober, you basts!) I might give this a look. Probably won’t, though. WoW will do me until GW2 now, I think.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Do what I did. Make a vow to never go back to it. Problem solved!

  13. Torgen says:

    Hmm, I was thinking that there was a gameplay video of this that had intrigued me. Maybe it was GW2.

  14. Lobotomist says:

    I started following this after I read some of game lore writing. Its excellent. Well above MMO standards. And somewhere near Bioware or Obsidian text quality.

    The game just oozes with the fact that its made by carefully picked team of veterans that know exactly what they are doing.

    Its up for beta to finally show. But RIFT if not most jaw dropping innovative MMO – will definitely be most solid one in long WOW aftermath. Most likely far better than crappy SWTOR from Bioware.

    Its only problem is that its sharing time slot with GW2

    • Arglebargle says:

      Uhh, I thought the game lore was pedestrian and cliched. It actually cooled my interest in this game. Some of the game ideas they present are intriguing though. Hope it turns out well.

      Caveat: I am pretty persnickety about my fantasy world backgrounds. Most online games have a major failing in that department, imho.

  15. orangedragon10 says:

    I want so badly to like this game, but every time I look at the gameplay videos, I feel like I’d get so bored like with WoW. Guess we’ll see what happens during the beta event next week.

  16. malkav11 says:

    I’m potentially interested, particularly by the souls system. But I have this feeling rifts will be a major pain in the ass rather than a selling point.

  17. Zogtee says:

    I don’t know. That sounds remarkably like WoW and every WoW wannabe out there. Right down to…

    “…means there’s plenty of loot to be had if players team up…”

    …I’ve done this sort of thing a million times already. I’m not paying for more. It looks pretty, though.

    Roll on, Guild Wars 2.