Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/01/11 | Genre: MMO
Dictionary.com defines addiction as: a noun- the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. After playing Rift since Beta and now into the first month of release, I am expecting the definition to include "See Rift." Yes, the latest Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO for short) has been released for the PC platform and it includes all sorts of new "hooks" to ensure players are left always wanting to play more.
The Developer and Publisher of Rift, Trion Worlds, is a relatively new company. Rift is their first title and Development work began back in 2006 with a budget exceeding 50 million dollars! To ensure the best possible talent came on staff to work on Rift, Trion reached out to individuals who had worked on EverQuest, Aion, and the biggest MMO of all--World of WarCraft.
Trion's goal was simple: to create a quality MMO that was playable, fun, relatively bug-free, plenty of content, and had stable servers at launch. This is something that no MMO had ever achieved before. Even the mighty World of WarCraft was plagued by crashing servers, unbearable lag, and lack of content for their launch. After five years in development, multiple Alpha, Beta, and Stress Tests, Trion Worlds released Rift to the masses to great success. Over 1.3 million users purchased a copies and created accounts. The servers remained up the entire time. Not a single moment of unplanned downtime occurred. Trion also kept the servers lag free by creating dozens of new servers at launch so there was room for all the players to play.
The negative impact of the large crowds did, however, create some problems. The servers were so overcrowded that a queue system was put in place to limit the number of total players and ensure a smooth gameplay experience for all those logged in. For the first several weeks, some players had to wait hours to get into the game. This was mostly seen on very popular servers from the past Beta events. Trion continued to bring new servers online for these first few weeks until they were able to iron out the population. Now users are able to log into servers with Medium to High usage during prime-time hours on servers throughout North America and Europe.
As we have mentioned before, Rift is simply gorgeous to look at. The game uses a "heavily modified" Gamebryo Engine and a proprietary backend system for the servers. This allowed Trion to create a beautiful game and ensured their servers would not crash during heavy load. For Rift to best perform, users are going to want, at the minimum, a Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, and a GTX 200M, or better, videocard, with 1 GB of RAM. For the most up to date information, I would suggest checking out the official Rift Forums.
Rift features two different factions: The Guardians and The Defiant. The Guardians are of the belief that Vigil, and the gods of Telara, will save them by their supernatural powers--while The Defiant have defied the gods and chosen to embrace technology. Both factions have the same goal: to save the world from the pending onslaught of the "Death God" Regulos. The Guardians include the races: Dwarves, Mathosians (who mostly resemble humans), and the High Elves. The Defiant include the races: Bahmi, Kelari, and Eth (who resemble humans).
As you enter the world of Telara, in Rift, the starting area will allow you to face off against Regulos in the past or in the future. The Guardian starting area places you in the past where you ultimately are defeated by an officer of Regulos--while The Defiant starting area has you face off against Regulos himself in the future. Both outcomes are bleak but players are brought back to life in the present with each faction vowing to stop Regulos by means of the Vigil or technology.
The story will continue to evolve. Currently Trion is using a "World Event" to deliver new story elements in the struggle to save Tellara from Regulos. These events will occur every few months and bring brand new content.
Despite the side you choose to play on, Trion offers four classes in Rift: Warrior, Mage, Rogue, and Cleric. Each class can have three souls, or sub-classes, active at any given time. Players initially earn the first three souls in the starting areas. Upon reaching Level 13, each major City will have quests for each class to obtain the rest of their souls. These quests can easily be done in an evening and allow greater variety for players.
After unlocking all souls, players can purchase new Roles. Up to four Roles can currently be obtained by paying money to your Class Trainer. Each Role can have three different combination of souls. This gives the player the ability to mix and match different abilities and create characters for different circumstances. For example, a player who chooses the Cleric class might want to have a mix two offensive souls and one healing soul for a PVE (Player vs Environment) Role, a full healing spec--with all three healing souls--for use in groups, etc.
The interesting part about Rift's class system is that you can play a total of eight characters (4 for Guardian and 4 for Defiant) and play ever possible class. If you wish to change your Role, you can purchase a new one or pay to have your "skill points" reset to change what souls are in your Role. This also allows players to easily switch Roles to perform different tasks in groups and reduces the stress in finding out your given class has had its abilities "nerfed."
As the title suggests, Rift includes global, world events called Rifts. While it is possible to attack these Rifts in a limited basis alone--they were designed for groups of players to tackle. When wandering into the vicinity of a Rift, a "Join Public Group" button appears at the top of the screen. This quickly and easily pops you into a public group. Once you finish the Rift, you can go back to soloing or playing with the others you were grouped with.
Rifts are a series of battles that range in scale depending on the number of players present and the level of the Rift. They come in different types--such as: Death, Water, Air, Titan, and more. As you defeat a predetermined number of AI enemies, the Rift moves on to a new stage. The more players you have in the Rift, the higher the chance you will get to higher stages and bonus stages. Once you complete this, the Rift is closed and each player is awarded various items and a special "Planar Currency" that differs from Gold. This currency allows you to purchase higher quality items. In addition, the World Events, such as the one going on now, includes a different form of "Planar Currency" that offers limited edition items.
As with other MMO's, like World of WarCraft, Rift includes several takes on the same PVP systems. As players compete in these areas, they will fulfill quests, gain experience, and earn PVP currency to purchase special items. There is even a unique PVP soul to purchase for each class.
The current Level Cap, in Rift, is set to 50. Once players reach Level 50, they run through tougher dungeons, group up in PVP, and run raids for obtain better loot. Trion is, however, promising more end-game content in the months ahead. For a game that has only been released for a month, the amount of content and things to do is most impressive.
Overall, Rift, as we mentioned in the introduction, is an addictive adventure set in a beautiful world. We highly recommend the title and it will only get better in the coming months. Congratulations to Trion for creating the first title that can compete with World of WarCraft.