Review Time! Rift – A Contender For The MMO Heavyweight Belt? Includes gameplay videos.

Posted by on April 13, 2011 at 8:44 pm

If I was a betting man, I’d gladly put at least 12 cents in to the pot saying the folks over at Trion Worlds spent more than a little time perusing the World Of Warcraft forums and various websites, building a list of the complaints and wants of WoW players and then building their game.

We all know that WoW has been the undisputed heavyweight champion of the MMO world for years but let’s just say Blizzard better get on point because this “under the radar” MMO release may just steal their thunder, along with their customer base, as it catches on.

Let’s face it, Blizzard has been relatively unchallenged in the MMO arena for years because they stumbled upon a system that works. Their loot system is fairly logical, the combat system is straight forward, the gameplay doesn’t have a huge learning curve, there’s not a ton of down time you have to take in between fights and you can make money fast enough to keep up with buying the things you need to buy, as long as you’re smart about how you manage your coin.

When WoW first released, it did so with huge fanfare. It had been expected for YEARS and the hype around it was legendary. It didn’t disappoint, either…it came right out of the gate and smashed everything else out there, making Blizzard rich beyond their wildest dreams. Over the years, many MMO games have tried to compete with WoW but the formula Blizzard came up with was simply unbeatable.

So one must ask the question; Why fix what ain’t broken?

Trion Worlds apparently asked that question and came up with the right answer; If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

What they’ve done is taken the tried and trued system that Blizzard developed and improved upon it a bit.

Here’s the breakdown of the game itself, with videos :)

First, of course, there’s character creation. Choose a server, of which PVE (Player VS. Environment), PVP (Player VS. Player) and RP (Role Playing) exist. Next, you’ll choose a faction, either Guardian or Defiant. The 2 factions have the same goal (save the planet from evil) but don’t get along so if you’re on a PVP server or flag PVP on a PVE server, you can be attacked by players from the opposing faction.

Next, you choose your race and “calling”. The calling is basically your “class” but it’s a bit more in-depth in this game than simply having classes so I’ll talk about that in a bit.

Once you’re done with all that, it’s time to customize your character and give him or her a name. Here’s some video on that process.

Of course, that’s not very complex. Standard character creation stuff there. Once your character is all set up and ready to go, you’ll be running a number of quests to get souls and level up your character which will gain you some talent points to spend on skills in your Soul Tree, as shown in the video below.

Now that you’ve got your character leveled up a bit and have some skills and abilities to use, it’s time to go out and get you some!

One of the focal points of Rift is the concept of the rifts themselves. These rifts start as “tears” in the fabric of the universe which will eventually develop in to a full blown rift. The rifts corrupt everything in the immediate vicinity and spawn different types of mobs. Those mobs, if left unchecked, will begin to assault the strongholds in the area and, if left go long enough, will take them over and start gaining a foothold in the area from which they will start launching other assaults.

When you enter a rift, it’s on…The game will give you the option to join a local group if any other players are present in the area. Doing so is a single button press and will get you grouped up for the killin’. Once that happens, you’ll be thrust in to a battle that will span a few “stages” of progressively tougher mobs. Once you pass a stage, it will give you an indication that the stage is complete and move on to the next. Once all of the stages are complete, the rift will close and you will be rewarded commensurate with the amount of work you put in.

Your rift rewards will come in the form sourcestones and shards and other goodies that can be used to buy and forge items later on. The more work you put in, the better rewards to get out so the goodies go out to the people who take part and play the game, not so much to those who log in, run quests and make jokes about sleeping with your mother.

And here’s a little video showing a rift and combat in that rift.

So let me bottom line this thing.

The guys at Trion Worlds took a lot of stuff that works, from various MMORPG’s and mashed it together into a rather pretty package. So far, the gameplay elements are very solid and I found myself getting lost in the game very quickly…looking up and wondering where the time went. On the flip side of that, they left out all of the things that seem to piss gamers off. Like I said, it seems they probably spent a lot of time reading the message boards of all of the top MMO’s and getting an idea what to do and what NOT to do.

Once they had all of that, they laid it out pretty damned well and made sure the command and control structure is the same that we’re all used to, for the sake of a smooth transition. With clean graphics, smooth gameplay, a delightful multi-classing system, built in twitter client (yep, I said that) and built in video recorder, encoder and youtube uploader (ZOMGOODNESS, Look out Fraps!) and rewards for actually playing your character the way it’s supposed to be played (a healer who never heals or a dps who doesn’t dps will apparently have their quest / dungeon / rift / raid rewards docked) I believe this is going to be a stellar MMO as it grows and matures.

Why they never publicized this game, I have no idea. It’s a diamond in the not-so-rough and as time goes on and the game is expanded I expect it to be able to give World of Warcraft a run for its money.

It’s about time somebody did. I won’t go off on a tangent about all the issues which exist with Blizzard and WoW but, suffice it to say it’s about time there was some good competition in the market.

Blizzard, be warned. Rift has you in its sights.

9/10 FleshEatingZipper

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