Rift: Planes of Telara
Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online RPG
Expected Release Date: March 1st, 2011
Price: $49.99. Monthly fees of $14.99
I recently got picked to participate in Rift’s 6th Beta Event and while I haven’t been in the beta events from day one, I feel now is still as good a time as any to give you a small taste of what’s to come. Developer Trion Worlds is bringing a great deal of content to the table with Rift and it has the potential to become a heavy hitter in this years game line up. Playing the first few levels, I can honestly say that I’ve been blown away… I also feel as if it’s a good idea to give you guys a preview and what to expect. This article will contain little to no spoilers when it comes to the story. It’s just a simple explanation of how to get your character into a group and ready to fight. Also it should be noted that this is not a review, it’s an impression article. A full review will follow soon after the official release.
CHOOSING YOUR RACE AND CALLING
Like most MMO’s, you align yourself with one of two factions, both warring against each other as well as a common enemy. In Rift, you can ether be the Guardians, gifted by the gods for their sincere dedication to the law, or the Defiant, ones who chose to turn away from the solutions of the gods for their personal goals. Each faction has a set of 3 races. The races for each faction tie into a specific calling, however, you are still free to choose your own callings. Each race has his or her own racial ability, as well as a a buff in a different stat (tied toward its lore). Gender doesn’t effect any stats so feel free to choose your preferred.
Once you’ve gotten past the task of picking your race, you move on to picking your calling. Trion has taken the most basic elements from classes of traditional RPG’s and given you the choices of one of four “callings”. Warrior, Mage, Cleric and Rogue are the given choices to pick from. These are defined as callings due to the fact that you are not just a mage, or just a warrior. You pick this to later define which sub-classes or souls you want to pick from. It may seem basic and simple at first, but this choice will play a big role in determining your play style.
-In my time with the beta, I chose to to create a male Defiant under the race known as the Eth. Choosing Eth was based on the fact that they have a slight improvement with intelligence which would overall benefit the spell power.
CHOOSING YOUR CLASS
Each calling has its own set of 9 sub-classes to choose from. These sub-classes are labelled as souls, and control the school in which you want to define your skills. You are given a chance to use up to 3 of these souls at a time, allowing for a unique and personal play style never seen before. Skill points are awarded per level and you apply them into the souls spec tree. The souls all have a specific strength to them, giving you more defense, better damage output, improved healing or even the chance to control some minions. For example, a Mage is able to choose from different schools in which there power derive from. Mages are able to choose from Warlock (Offense soul with death magic abilities), Necromancer (Offense soul with minion damage abilities), Chloromancer (Healing soul with the power of herbs, provides some buffs) as well as 6 other unique and fun souls. The best part about this is the souls are not permanent. You are given the first 3 through a series of starter quests, while the rest are acquired through quests later on down the line. This gives you the option of not needing to create an alternate character and allows you the freedom of change when you become bored with your build. Between all the souls and classes, there are literly hundreds of soul combination’s to choose from. No two souls are the same as well, giving each player a unique experience.
-Since my days in WoW and even going back to Guild Wars, I have always enjoyed the dark arts classes of MMOs. They have an interesting way of degenerating your foes, and packing a big punch. In Rift I decided to choose warlock and necromancer for my first two souls. When I got to my third choice, I decide to pick Archon. The Archon soul is a vital tool in taking down larger foes, mostly bosses from an instance or raid. They focus on reversing the stats of your foes and buffing your own spell power, giving you and your team the upper hand. I was able to raise up a bone minion to help me fight, as well as cast some heavy hitting damage abilities with one or two cast-able debuff abilities. Worked very very well in my opinion.
THE FIRST 10 LEVELS AND BEYOND
Now that I have my Race, Calling and Souls all set into place, it’s time to begin my journey to help save Telara. I wont go into great story line detail but I will explain the gameplay features I noticed during my playtime.
LEVELS 1 – 3
The biggest takeaway for me from the game in the initial three levels was the natural flow of the game. It all just felt like it worked, and didn’t feel like your typical beta. The UI is solid, the attacks are well animated, and the world is simply overflowing with detail. The UI has a lot in common with Guild Wars’ UI; especially with regards to the customize-ability of the layout. You’re able to move any menu, bar or frame on the screen and resize it to your liking. This will allow you to clutter or un-clutter your interface as you see fit. Big plus.
LEVELS 3 – 7
Blasting my way through fun quests, gorgeous landscapes, and getting a chance to collect some new gear. First to talk about is the quests. You will never feel like your grinding away for that next bar of experience. Your objectives are always something story driven and have a great deal of detail in why your doing them. Whether it’s collecting hides for a scientist, or following a mechanized golem to the top of a mountain, the quests didn’t disappoint and constantly felt like they had a sense of purpose.
LEVELS 7 – 10
Participation in my first Rift event. I was casual shopping through a small outpost when all of sudden a horn blares. Thinking nothing of it I continue on my way crafting myself a little belt… About 15 seconds later I notice a rather shady purple hue in the distance and local chat going increasing to the tune of “help”. I summoned my main (undead) man “Bones”, put on my belt and set my way toward the horizon. Upon getting there, I witnessed an astonishing event. A rift had opened in the sky, with a demon of some sort spawning down minions by the boat load. Rifts are a spontaneous and almost unpredictable occurrence in Telara. They require large group efforts to conquer, allowing you to make use of a public group system put in place by Trion. This system lets you skip the days of shouting “Looking for group” and “Invite me plz!” and gets you right into the firefight. When in a group you gain loot every time you and your companions around you finish a wave of minions. The wave difficulty and frequency are scaled based on the number of players in the area. This allows for a consistent challenge no matter what size group you are in. The biggest thing I noticed is that I never felt like I was out of place. My actions and abilities were doing a lot for the group around me but I wasn’t leading the pack. It felt as if it was a true team effort. The most fun I’ve had with a random group of people in a long time.
LEVEL 10 AND ONWARD
I tested some of the crafting, gathering and such. It was a great time, also I was able to find a few elite rifts, and witness a massive attack on the area I was in. This was also a time of sight seeing, story-line progression and meeting up with some old Aion legion mates. There’s a ton to be seen and found, achievement opportunities and artifacts are scattered across the lands just waiting to be collected. I stopped at level 13 due to the end of the beta but look forward to my next opportunity to jump into the world of Rift. Rift brings a refreshing and revitalized MMO to your fingertips, and if the beta is any indication, then WoW might actually have a serious competitor in its midsts.
Rift is expected to be released on March 1st, 2011. Those who pre-order are guaranteed access into the Open Beta Event, which kicks of on February 15th. Stay tuned for more information and look forward to further coverage as the game makes its way to store shelves.