Tilce | 12 February 2011 | 26 comments (off)

By Warbear_nG

The hardest thing about writing, especially when writing for somewhere new, is trying to decide what to write. Where to start, where to begin a tale of any sort to hook the reader, and then deliver to them a work of literature (or complete drivel) be it fiction or non-fiction, and see how they respond. So I will start with RIFT from the angle of new. New for those in TOG not familiar with the game, and new from the perspective of you the reader not being familiar with my style of writing.
Let’s start with some basics...I wrote an article for my own site that I will use content from almost completely for this article. That and I think it works well, and rather than make you go to another web page, I will put it all here for you to read in one go.

What is RIFT?
My first experience with RIFT was in the most recent Beta 5 and 6 events. These are my impressions, thoughts and ideas about the game, and hopefully help you make a decision as to play it or not if you are wondering. Or if you are just wondering what all the hype is about, it might clarify some of what RIFT is for you.

The first thing to note about RIFT, is that it IS still in beta. In fact this week sees the last beta event before release. Now, having gotten that out, let me say that most game manufacturers in the world could take a lesson or twenty from the TRION Worlds folk. Let’s start with a basic question to start with. I was asked recently to describe the game. To define what kind of game it is, and if it compared to something else. I will get to the comparison part in a moment, but let me explain how I came up with the answer to the basic question.

What kind of game is RIFT?
Since the game has firearms, and machinery, the fact that there are levels of technology above that of the average fantasy setting, but it’s not a modern game, it struck me that a close approximation to what RIFT is, is that it’s a more fantasy bent of STEAMPUNK! Truly it feels that way, but that comparison is thin, as RIFT is in fact its own game, devoid of anything closely resembling it. TERA has been likened to it, but from all reports TERA is more Asian grind than a true MMO, and so it ends there....It struck me that a close approximation to what RIFT is, is that it’s a more fantasy bent of STEAMPUNK!

Now if you remember I mentioned the fact of comparing it to other games, and though we do as a species use our experiences as references to build a starting point to form an idea about a thing, the constant references both in and out of game to RIFT and how it compares to WOW are insane.

Not because it DOES seem like it, but because the people making the comparison are so indentured (for the most part) into the WOW mentality (this term is used with liberal application here folks) that if RIFT wasn’t basically a clone of WOW, then they would not like it. How true this has been of so many other games. Even playing EVE Online i get comments now and then about the game and how it compares to WOW. (o.O)/

Let’s get something straight, RIFT is its OWN game! But having said that, I might like to mention that TRION did something amazing. They seemingly actually listened to all the game fans that play all the MMOs since the genre first started, and made a montage of all the good points of of them. I think RIFT is closer to a LOTRO/Galaxies combo than anything else (but this comes back to my experiences as a frame of reference). Let me explain why.

The LOTRO comparison is from the fantasy element, the polished nature of it, the breadth of the game, and the lushness of the graphics. Also the crafting (from the little I saw of it) is similar to the LOTRO crafting system, basic enough to make it easy, detailed enough to make it interesting, but not too hard.

The comparison to Galaxies comes from the skill system. This has to be the most complex and complete, yet still easy to grasp system for characters that I have seen in a game. Each character starts with nothing, a simple weapon (possibly a shield as well), and not a scrap more. Then they gain their first soul, of their first calling. Each character can have three souls per calling. They get to choose the first three, and then later they can quest for the other souls. As they go they can increase the number of callings and switch back and forward at will. Each class has 9 souls. As you level up you gain points to spend on skills in the trees, which unlock abilities and bonus’ for your character as you go.I think RIFT is closer to a LOTRO/Galaxies combo than anything else...

So let’s look at how that would work. A mage starts out choosing the following souls in its first role: stormcaller, elementalist and chloromancer. Then at level 15 he gains pyromancer added to his souls, and buys another role. In the second role, when he first goes into it, it is empty, and he can choose to activate up to any three souls that he has collected. So the second could be just the pyromancer, till he collects another soul, or could be a stormcaller, elementalist and pyromancer.
Then the mage can switch between them as needed, and the game retains the action slots for each role. Meaning you can switch from one to another based on need. The best example is the video that shows the warrior class and it’s builds (see link below).

The cool thing is the system in RIFT would allow ONE character to do ALL of that! Build up equipment and skills in PVE, do PVP on the damage build, and then tank for group play in the third. In ONE toon. Then think that EVERY account has three slots. You could end up with all the souls for three characters, and be able to setup in whatever way you want and modify your game play to any style you want. Switch from a heat dealing mage, to a life buffing mage, to a necromancer with an undead follower…at will.

Let’s do some maths on how that could work, even with the basic release of souls (for I truly think they will expand the list of souls later on). Each combo can have 3 souls. There are 9 souls per class, and 3 slots. This means (if I get my brain working right) there are 9 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243 possible combinations of class PER account! Since how you build the skills up is different for each player, and how they like to play the games, it means almost limitless possible combinations of characters available at any one time. If you don’t like something, you can even reset a calling and start from scratch! 5 minutes is all it takes to feel comfortable with the game, especially if you have played an MMO before.

What is RIFT Like to play?
So, what did I try in the game? Well pretty much everything I could. Worked to level 10, and deleted and started again. I did find things I liked, and things I didn’t. But it was more playing style than anything specific. I have some favourites, and I know where I will be going once headstart has commenced. Mage and Rogue.

MY MAGE BUILDS: I changed the build as I experimented, but I found two worked well for my style of play. First was a stacking mage with a lot of DOT (Damage Over Time) attacks and a pet. The second was an all out damage mage using air spells. The second in a group was fantastic as I could do a lot of damage in an area very quickly, with support I was safe.

MY ROGUE BUILD: This build is a PVE build for sniping, but I think might do okay in the PVP areas as well due to the high damage output. Using firearms rather than bows there is no animation time, and the damage is increased. So is the cool factor.

I did play a fighter, and even tried the main tank from the above film, but found I didn’t like the style, and it might change, so will reserve too much judgement on that till I know what is going on. I also tried the cleric, but not for long. What I found was something almost as good as the warrior for tanking, that could also heal, and deal out significant DPS. But again, I like the ranged game style more.

What is it like in the game?

The game has a simple interface, very similar to other interfaces of many MMOs, and is fairly easy to get a handle on, meaning you don’t spend a load of time trying to figure out how to activate an ability. Or where your gear is. This is a great thing, as you can get into the action right away. 5 minutes is all it takes to feel comfortable with the game, especially if you have played an MMO before. If you are new to the genre, then expect a little longer to get used to it, but it’s pretty easy to figure out.
You start in a starter area, where you go through some basic tutorials on how to interact with the environment. TRION don’t take any time to really teach you the controls, though there is a popup tool tip the instant you log a new character into the game. The tutorials however are just there to get you used to the interaction with the NPCs. It also gets you your first three souls, and gets you started with the game style. It also gets you your first few pieces of equipment and the very end of it takes you into your first rift of the game.The game has a simple interface, very similar to other interfaces of many MMOs, and is fairly easy to get a handle on.

So what are rifts?
RIFT events occurred all the time, and near the end I think we had in beta more invasions than anything else and so the ability to do missions died as the agents vanished once an elemental army came marauding through. At one point I was almost graped by a bunch of marauding elite level 15 mobs. Graped (it’s like being raped, but there is a bunch of them).

There are different types of rift, each one affects the world differently. Some are death rifts, some are life ones, there are water, fire and probably air as well, though I never saw one of those. Also though there are rifts, there can also be invasions. An invasion is different in that a rift is defeated when the creatures coming through are defeated the rift closes. An invasion is when they have an area controlled, and the rift if there was one is closed. In the defiant areas, guardians would also invade, and I am assuming vice versa.

Invasions also are ended not when all the enemy are dead, but when the device that brought them is destroyed as well. Invasions also can roam around, and both rifts and invasions interact with the NPCs in the area, killing them in most cases. Interestingly is that if there is a rift or invasion, the other side can come help. So if you are in the defiant area, guardians can come and help the rift out to invade, and vice versa, meaning each experience gets more dynamic as players add a new layer of interest to the game.

Final thoughts.
I like the game very much. So much so that I subbed for 6 months, as well as getting the digital and shelf collectors editions of RIFT (yes both). I may sub two accounts, not sure, but atm I am locked in for 6 months on one account, and I have given the other one to a mate, and will get more sub time as time goes on.
As a side note to this, you can get a special on the monthly subscription price but ONLY if you pre buy the game. It’s $5USD per month cheaper if you pre-order. You can pre-order online, or most game shops have the CE off the shelf as well. Shelf pre-order collector’s or normal editions will NOT get access to headstart, as the versions don’t hit the shelf till March 1st. Only digital collectors get head start access, which starts Feb 24.

RIFT in comparison to other games is the best bits of most of them. But it is its own animal, and a well groomed and ready for show pedigree at that. It is graphically lush, artistically developed, mindful of the experience, not too badly balanced and more ready for market in beta, than some other games that have been out for years.
I recommend trying the game if you know someone that has it, and just see, or take a plunge and give it a go. It has something for almost everyone, except spaceships. But it is a game about planes so…I live in hope.

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