TRION worlds attempts to up the ante and displace Blizzard entertainment’s World of Warcraft as the undisputed champion of MMORPGs with their new Rift MMO (previously called “Rift: Planes of Telara”).
Telara the game world setting for Rift might seem at first to be somewhat of a clone of other games in the genre. However, by design the feel of the game is comfortably familiar and still fairly addictive, but players will quickly discover that they aren’t in Azeroth anymore, which for some would be considered a very good thing.
Rift: Planes of Telara builds upon classic good design of past MMOs and RPGs and gives players enough new content to make the game world seem unique and new. The graphics are beautiful and the world is fairly fleshed out.
Rift features the Gamebryo engine which was also used in LEGO Universe, Warhamer Online: Age of Reckoning and Dark Age of Camelot MMORPG a decade ago, but don’t for a second think the engine because of its age is somehow not a robust game engine and/or can’t render an astonishingly attractive eleven female, detailed landscapes or cool architecture because it can do it and much more.
Player’s begin by choosing between two opposing factions the Guardians or the Defiant as their preferred path to save Telara from the extraplanar invasions. The Guardians are basically believers in classic old school magic and the Defiant are much more at home using technology with a dash of magic thrown in for good measure.
Players then get to choose their race such as Elves, Dwarves and/or the human-like “Eth”. Afterwards a class/calling is chosen, Rift uses an “Ascended class system” starting with a familiar base class (Warrior, Mage, Rogue, Bard or Cleric). As players progress they can add additional souls which create various related sub-classes. Each sub-class comes with it’s own pool of spells, talents and abilities giving players a couple of hundred combinations to help define and fleshout their character depending what role or personality they wish to play.
After character creation is accomplished there are a few tutorial quests in the starting area to get players acquainted with Telara. Those familiar with World of Warcraft will find the game dashboard and UI layout and presentation will feel instantly at home.
Characters advance by doing quests and even though the visuals are beautiful one can’t escape the traditional grind of kill, and/or collection quests etc. that haunt these types of games. Also there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for players to explore the world off-quest as many of the buildings are just decorative props that you can’t enter.
It is possible for player’s to stumble into a relic in the wild and once all the pieces are collected can be turned into a vendor for various rewards. Rift also features crafting and a PvP systems as well as dungeon instances.
One of the best aspects of Rift (hence the name of the game) are the tears in space/time between Telara and the planes of: Life, Death, Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
The opposing planes of existence are obviously host to some fun drama inducing denizens that our heroes have to be contended with once the invaders decide to make parts of Telara their own private Idaho. Player’s are rewarded for helping to close these random Rifts with valuable loot (equipment, material or tokens) depending upon their contribution to the effort.
The Rifts and their related invasions add a dynamic element to the MMORPG genre that keeps players on their toes. Although Rift does borrow heavily from Warhammer Online as well as World of Warcraft when it comes to some of their player-vs-player and other aspects of gameplay. At the end of the day Rift is most certainly worth a test drive and only time will tell if enough players make the switch to TRION’s Rift from their current favorite MMO.
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