RIFT is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created by Trion Worlds, a relatively new game publisher and developer. Trion Worlds seems to be stirring up the MMO community with previews of its new game, due to be released March 1st in the US. Lots of talk on forums, dedicated websites, and classrooms here in Boston seems to point towards only one question from prospective players: Is it different?
First a little background is needed for those unfamiliar with the game. RIFT is set in the fantasy world of Telara, which is being invaded by other planes (worlds) through rips in the universe called rifts. These rifts continually spawn monsters that attack players and if left unchecked eventually conquer portions of the map. In order to protect the innocent non-player characters (NPC’s) and quest givers, players have to work together to defeat the monsters and seal the rifts. Once a rift is closed, players are rewarded for attacking the monsters and healing/buffing their friends.
The gameplay is pretty consistent with most other MMOs in that a player has a familiar interface with a spell bar from which they cast their buffs, heals, and attacks. Along with the “point and click” targeting system, these familiarities makes RIFT a fairly easy game for MMO veterans and first time MMO players to pick up and play. However, this is not to say that RIFT is a simple game. There is a fairly high learning curve to maximize a player’s performance. Although anyone can pick up the game and complete quests without too much trouble, in order to do well towards upper tier and end game content, the skill cap is fairly high.
The most important thing a player needs to understand is the soul system. One a player chooses from the four different callings (Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, or Mage) he eventually gains access to eight different ‘souls’ from that calling. These souls have trees to which they can allocate a number of points gained each level. Soul trees have two levels: branches, which have specific abilities/bonuses that the player allocates the points to, and roots, which are the actual base abilities that are unlocked as the player allocates a certain number of points into the branches. This soul system allows high amounts of customization for players depending on what roles they want to fulfill. For example,aplayer who wants to tank could select justicar for its defensive properties and damage-based group healing abilities, sentinel to increase its healing output, and shaman to increase his melee damage output.
Moving from gameplay to graphics, RIFT really shows off its differences from other MMOs. RIFT’s almost photo-realistic graphics (one could remove the word “almost” if goblins and elves were real) make the player constantly want to zoom in to see the amount of glorious detail on everything from monsters to NPC’s to the environment (and many did just that, see the slideshow for dozens of beta screenshots). Playing RIFT on the lowest graphics settings simply doesn’t do it justice. Many of the players around Northeastern’s computer science college had positive opinions of the game solely based on impressive graphics and details because they own powerful computers. So be sure your computer can handle the game well before buying (see links below for system requirements).
Last, but certainly not least, the player to player interaction is profoundly different from other MMOs. Unlike games like World of Warcraft where players have to organize raids with 9 or 24 other players to attempt challenging content, RIFT lets players simply walk towards a rift and when the player gets close a button pops up saying “Join Public Group” and lets them jump into the action and start closing the rift with whoever else is there. No load screens, waiting for players to log on, or annoying raid leaders shouting commands.
Overall Trion Worlds did a good job of setting their game apart from a somewhat crowded MMO market while still keeping gameplay familiar and easy to use. For those looking to join in on the RIFT craze, the last beta event unfortunately ended today at 10am. However, the game is available for preorder (links below) and will allow players to begin playing on February 24th before the actual March 1st release date. From first-hand experience getting and opinions of many other beta testers across Northeastern’s campus one consensus seems to be true: At least buying and trying the game for a month for those intrigued would definitely be worth the money. If you’re still unsure about the game, be sure to check out the 50 screenshots taken during the last beta event in the slideshow section on the left.
Preorder the game here: