RIFT – First Impressions


ss121-fullA few weeks ago I was pretty much oblivious of the existence of this upcoming MMO. Then Zakharov on the #stargazersworld IRC channel on sorcery.net told me about it. RIFT is a self-proclaimed next-gen MMO which is set into a fantasy world. From the outside it looks pretty much like your garden-variety MMO but if you delve a bit deeper, you get to realize that it actually tries to do some things differently. By the way, if you want to read up on the world, the classes, races, etc. check out the official site.

When it comes to graphics RIFT looks very sweet. On my PC I can run the game set to “Ultra” quality and it looks just awesome. Textures and models are much more detailed than World of Warcraft’s for example. I’ve included a few screenshots in this post which I took from the official site. I haven’t made my own screenshots yet, but I’ll post them as soon as I have any.

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The first thing I actually noticed when playing the beta was that everything already looks pretty polished. The designers of RIFT also made sure that the game’s UI is fully customizable and has all the nifty features you come to expect from a modern MMO. Overall the UI reminded me a lot of WoW’s with some addons thrown in. This is actually a good thing. WoW’s UI is already very good and a lot of players are comfortable with it. This makes giving RIFT a try much easier, since you already feel quite at home.

RIFT has two warring factions. The faithful Guardians and the technology-using Defiants. While the Guardians fight for the gods, the Defiants have defied them and turned to use technology. The Defiants are currently my favorite faction. They basically had me the moment one NPC mentioned “magitech”. And trust me, the Defiants tech is pretty cool. I’ve heard you get to ride mechanical mounts later. Yay!

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Both factions defend the world against the rifts. Rifts are tears in the fabric of reality that open portals into the elemental planes. These rifts open randomly all over the world and all kinds of nasty creatures pour out. The players have then to fight these monsters and cause the rift to close again. If they fail to do so, the creatures from the rift may roam the world, create strongholds and even overrun quest hubs. While I haven’t encountered any rifts yet – I am still in the tutorial area – the concept sounds quite interesting. Although I fear that on servers with low population, rifts might become a problem. Let’s hope the spawning of rifts takes the current server population into account.

The class system is also pretty cool. At character creation you pick one of four classes: warrior, mage, rogue or cleric. During the first few levels you can then unlock “souls” – basically subclasses – which allow you to customize your character. And there are a lot of possible souls per class and countless combinations. And when I not mistaken you can unlock more than three souls later and change your “build” later according to the task at hand. Very cool!

From what I’ve seen so far, RIFT looks pretty nice and I am tempted to buy it when it’s released later this year. In a way it plays like a better looking WoW with some nice additions here and there to set it apart. I also like the more serious, mature tone of the game. But I also think the developers have to think more about how to immerse the players into the game. For some reason I felt a bit detached from what happened on the screen. The gameplay was quite enjoyable, but I missed that certain “oomph” that WoW sometimes has. But we’re still in beta, so this may be part of the problem.

Overall RIFT is a surprisingly well made MMO that probably won’t push WoW from its throne, but it might stir up the MMO market a little.

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