Can’t we all just get along? A huge dragon trying to kill us as we speak!
Rift tells a tale as old as time. The classic, heartwarming fantasy story about the end of the world – no, scratch that – the one and only hope to stop the end of the world. That’s you, if you couldn’t figure it out. Well, it’s technically you and your friends, and the members of your faction, and of course a bunch of NPCs… I guess it’s a lot of people, actually.
[image1]But what else would you expect (or want) from an MMORPG? And the folks at Trion have set some high goals: Rift aims to emulate the best parts of WoW’s staggeringly successful formula while at the same time eliminating the stuff that hinders the MMO experience and adding a few unique elements to the gameplay (not to mention a heavy graphical upgrade).
Whether you choose the devout Guardians or tech-savvy Defiants, you'll be thrown into the thick of it right at the start. The world of Telara has been subjected to a multitude of rifts opening into the elemental planes, spilling bloodthirsty monsters across the land. Many of these serve an all-powerful dragon named Regulos, whose only goal is the pure destruction of all life on the planet.
The Guardians are religious crusaders who believe the Defiants opened up the rifts in their hubris. Calling upon their gods, they create “ascended” (dead heroes brought back to life with divine powers) to fight back Regulos and destroy the Defiants’ machines. Meanwhile, the Defiants believe their technology is the only way to stop the bad guys and view the Guardians as bigoted zealots. Yes… there’s a bit of miscommunication going on between these folks.
[image2]Both factions have an epic story going on in their starting zones which I won’t spoil here. Players control an ascended (the Defiants are able to engineer their own), and right off the bat you’re given a quest that rewards your first soul. Souls are one of the things that separate Rift from WoW, and indeed, most of the genre as well. They act as your talent trees, but there is infinitely more customization than you’re probably used to.
WoW and many other MMOs utilize three static talent trees per class, stressing one for you to “spec” into. Rift is like that, except there are a total of eight souls per class. You can mix and match any three of those eight souls to make up your personal talent tree combination. Not only does this give a lot of versatility, but it allows the talent trees themselves to be far more specific in their role. Instead of having, for example, one DPS tree and one healing tree, you might have one single-target dps tree, one purely AoE dps tree, one group healing tree, one with an emphasis on crowd controls… you get the picture.
In fact, the classes themselves are far less important than the souls. There are only four classes – warrior, mage, cleric, and rogue – and all of them can fill most roles if you pick the appropriate souls. Yes, you can play a tanking cleric or a healing mage if you so choose.
[image3]Rift’s other major feature is…um, rifts. At any moment in any given outdoor zone, rifts can spawn and cause an invasion event across that zone. Any player in the zone can participate if they want to, and the end result is like a big spontaneous outdoor raid where you don’t need to be partied up – everyone who participates in the event will get some form of loot. If you’re wondering about the implications… yes, at peak times this can turn into hundreds of players wailing on a huge outdoor raid boss. The rift events are supposedly triggered based on the current server population, so the more players on at a given time, the better your chances of finding an epic rift battle going on.
Rift launches March 1st, but anyone who pre-orders the game will get to jump in the head start period beginning February 24th. The open beta is also currently running through Monday, the 21st, if you want an early look at this incredibly ambitious MMO.