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Rift Beta Preview/Review

Rift Review

 

  I recently got the chance to beta test the upcoming MMO being developed by Trion Worlds; Rift, due to be released on March 1, 2011. Here are my impressions of the game so far, but please take note that the game is still in the beta testing phase and the things that I discuss here may or may not make it into the final release version of the game.

 

 Like most MMO's being released these days the game is divided between two opposing factions, the Guardians and the Defiant.

 

Guardians vs Defiant

Umm not quite...

 

  The opening story goes something more like this.

 

Opening story Rift

 

  You begin Rift dead. No really. If you choose to play as part of the guardians faction then an angel will recover your dead body from the field of battle to be resurrected with no soul as an Ascendant. If you choose the defiant faction then you're kind of grown in a machine as the defiant have found a way to reproduce an Ascendant via technology, but once again you are reborn without a soul.

 

  So how do you get a soul, well not to worry soon you will have several.

 

  Character creation is fairly standard once you choose your faction you get to select either male or female for your sex and you get to pick one of three races based on your faction. On the Guardians side we have Mathosians (Humans), High Elves, or Dwarves. On the Defiant side we have Eth (Human desert nomads), Kelari (Dark elves), and Bahmi (purple skinned people that reminded me of a cross between a Human and a Draenei).

 

  No matter which faction you have decided to fight for you will get to select from one of four base classes to play. Your choices are cleric, mage, rogue, and warrior. Each of these classes has several sub-classes and it is in the choice of sub-class that the souls come into play.

 

  Once the base class is selected you will move onto defining your characters features using a tool comprised of a triangular scale to shape your face, you then get to play with the characters features, eyes (including scale, rotation, and thirteen eyebrow choices), nose (including size and tilt), mouth, hair (with a choice of base color, highlight color, and nine different hair styles), thirteen different markings, fourteen different facial hair choices, body color and height, some races also allow you to play with a few of the other features like ears but not all races have these options available to them.

 

  You then give your hero a name and it's off to a cut scene that shows a little more of the back story and also shows your rebirth/resurrection. There was just something uplifting about playing as a member of the Guardian faction, I got to watch an angel gather up my dead shroud covered body from the field of battle, then the angel took to the sky to deliver my body for resurrection. It just did not have the same emotional impact when I played as a member of the Defiant faction, to just pop out of a canister.

 

Defiant instant hero soda

Just add ascendancy

 

  The very first quest that you are given is to get a soul, you walk around interacting with various souls and then move onward to turn in the quest. When you turn it in you get to choose your first soul (sub-class), but don't worry you will have the chance to add up to two more souls in the future via quest rewards.

 

Cleric Sub-Classes

  Cabalist

  Druid

  Inquisitor

  Justicar

  Purifier

  Sentinel

  Shaman

  Warden

  

Mage Sub-Classes

  Archon

  Dominator

  Elementalist

  Chloromancer

  Pyromancer

  Stormcaller

  Warlock

  Necromancer

 

Rogue Sub-Classes

  Assassin

  Bard

  Bladedancer

  Marksman

  Nightblade

  Ranger

  Riftstalker

  Saboteur

 

Warrior Sub-Classes

  Beastmaster

  Champion

  Paladin

  Paragon

  Reaver

  Riftsblade

  Vold Knight

  Warlord

 

  Your choice of sub-class creates a talent tree that you will get to spend points on. The "roots" of the tree increase via how many points you spend in the upper portion of the tree. As you add more souls, you get more trees (limit of three from what I could see), but you will only be able to add souls that match up with your sub-class.

 

  Rift also give you the ability to purchase additional "roles" think of them as talent trees that have their points allocated in completely different ways.

 

Rift starter area

 

  As in many games gear changes the appearance of your character based on what you are using at the time.

 

  The user interface is very customizable and your main bar can have six different channels, you also have the ability to add up to ten more single channel action bars. This tells me that you are going to have a lot of skills to rotate through as you advance deeper into the game. You can also have the ability to reposition every box on the screen.

 

Rift UI customization

 

  Playing in the beta was a very smooth experience and I think that this might be the second MMO this year to have a fairly smooth launch.

 

  So what are the downsides of this game so far? Well my main concern is that there is really nothing new here, I constantly had the feeling in the back of my mind that I had done all of this before in other games.

 

  One of the most hyped events in the game, the rifts are like old wandering monster encounters from the good old days of Dungeons and Dragons, they advance and act like the public quests in Warhammer Online, although with more polish to them. Once again I just did not get the feeling that I was doing anything new here.

 

  The art style, color choices, and lighting are very busy and after a few hours of play, it put a huge strain on my eyes. The art style is not as cartoon like as World of Warcraft but they are also not as beautiful as the environments in Lord of the Rings Online either.

 

  I do give Rift credit for the art style choices for both characters and monsters as they are very well rendered, its more the environmental art style that I felt needed a bit of an overhaul in certain areas.

 

  The soul system is awesome and I liked having the ability to choose from different sub-classes to fill out my three different talent trees, but... I think Rift really missed the mark with not allowing you to gain souls/sub-classes from multiple base classes. I know that they probably did this for balance reasons, but it would have been nice to see a true multi-class system in this game.

 

  The ability to switch roles leaves me with the feeling that at level cap your action bars are going to be a complete mess, this is something that we will have to wait and see on.

 

  The customization available in the user interface does have a few flaws, you can resize just about every box individually, except for you bags and the NPC speech boxes. Those are tied to the global scaling which means if you want to have the NPC text fairly large then you have to have huge bags also. It would have been nice is these boxes also had individual resize options.

 

  Maybe I got spoiled by all of the quests being voiced over when I did my review of DC Universe Online, it was heart breaking to slam into the great wall of text again when I started playing this game.

 

The great wall of text

The great wall of text, making us gloss over quests since 1975

 

  Overall if you like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, or Warhammer Online, you will probably like Rift. If you're looking for something new and revolutionary, well you must continue your search.

 

Final Verdict for Rift Beta 7/10

  ~Professor

 

 

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