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Rift is the perfect MMO out there for any newcomer into the genre. For veterans, everything you'd hope to be here is, yet it will all grow old on you very quick. Rift's claims that "we're not in Azeroth anymore" grows true to the technical meaning, but in reality the entirety of your adventure in Telara will feel like one long deja vu moment.
The game seemingly took everything you loved and adored about other MMOs such as World of Warcraft or Warhammer and put their ideas into one blender and mixed them into one, flawless, masterpiece. While it sounds darn near perfect on paper, RIFT lacks any kind of intuitive nature to separate it from the rest of the genre. Your better off staying in Azeroth or Middle Earth and continuing going about business there than starting from scratch here.
Everything you'd expect from a contemporary MMO is here. There is lots of loot, guilds, dungeons and raids, a massive world to explore, and two different factions (The Defiant & The Guardians) that want to wipe each other out instead of saving the world from utter collapse.
The Guardians are the faithful followers of the gods and The Defiant are those who refuse to worship them. They believe that the entire planar invasion set in motion by Regulus is their fault, so they've decided to go out and fend for themselves by building up a large arsenal of war machines.
In either scenario, the end goal for your desired race is the same. You'll play as an ascended who has either been brought back to life by the gods or by science whose sole purpose in life is to defeat the dragon god Regulos and the many deadly rifts he spawns all across the world.
Though both factions zones can be a blast to play through on your first time, their linear approach to questing quickly becomes boring on your second time through. In fact, most of the other zones suffer from the same fate as well, as the whole questing process in order to level up is very dull and rifts quickly become an annoyance.
The game has a lot of lore to pull from though, which makes it one of the few strong suits it has to it's advantage. Trion, the game's developer, has crafted together an entirely new and unique story line that is fairly interesting. The quests themselves are what kills the game though.
Its almost as if Trion jumped into a time machine and jumped back to 2004, took the quests designed for World of Warcraft, and then came back to the present and weaved them into their own game. The same old pattern is used in Rift in where you approach a quest hub with five or six people that have exclamation points over their heads, you chit chat, and then you run off to kill 10 goblins and collect this and that from an area infested with enemies.
For a game that strove so hard to show off it's dynamic content with rifts and invasions, it was odd how linear and basic each and every quest was. I felt like I was playing two different games at once. I'd pop in a rift or run off to fight an invasion force and think about how awesome the game is, but then I'd have to go back to the boring old quests, which I dreaded doing.
Though there are a few perks that help make the questing experience a bit more streamlines like the new looting system in where you can simply scoop up everything from the foes you just killed all around you instead of having to loot each individual one. And, if you're out hunting for a specific foe who happens to battling it out with another person, you can always just click on the player's badge and jump into a public group grabbing both the kill and the xp. It's a win win situation for both people.
What makes Rift Rift however are the rifts themselves. These frequent, zone wide events are occurring all over the place and are a great distraction from the so-so questing experience. There are five different rifts that may open up at any time, Air, Death, Earth, Fire, Life, and Water.
If left unchecked, they will spawn invasions: groups of soldiers unique to their rift that will target nearby villages, camps, and towns in an attempt to wipe out the quest givers their and establish their own base. If successful, the soldiers will defend their new base, as well as spawn new invasions in where new soldiers will come to life at the base and set off looking for new quest hubs and towns to attack.
This could have ended badly for Trion, since rift invasions could essentially take over a zone and prevent players from being able to progress forwards since all of the quest hubs have been wiped out. In my mind though I think the entire system worked out perfectly. Whenever I came across an old quest hub that had been overrun, I was enticed to run off and save the day, pushing the enemies out.
You only run into problems if other players decide not to close the rifts or fight off invasions since some require more than one player. Since the questing system is so aggressively linear, your path may be permanently halted until help finally arrives.
The other plus side of Rift is it's ground breaking skill tree system. Every class can play out and be whatever they want. Obviously they'll have some perks and bonuses that will benefit a specific play style, but if you want to be a tank-healing guru, the game embraces you with open arms.
Rift ditches the MMO tank-healer-dps standard, opting for a more open experience that allows anyone to play however they'd like. Classes (Warrior, Rouge, Cleric, Mage) are dived up into sub-classes, allowing players to pick and choose what they want and don't want. You can own up to five souls, switchable at any time outside combat, so you create one for dps, one for healing, one for tanking, a mix of them all, etc. for that one moment where you may just need that one specific setup.
If you're asking the question as to whether or not the long, linear path is to 50, I'd say yes almost immediately. Endgame is where Rift really gets fun. Leading up to 50, there are 10 different dungeons available for you to play through. Upon reaching level cap, many of them can be scaled to 50. There are also a handful of raids to choose from as well as rift specific raids that can be done as well.
In terms of challenge, the five man dungeons don't really require a lot of preparation beforehand, meaning jumping in and out of instances via the looking for group tool shouldn't be a major problem. When it comes to the dungeon specific raids however, you'd better hope you're with a group of people who know what they're doing, else things will probably go south very, very quickly.
In terms of PVP, the short answer would be that its fun. If you're a fan of World of Warcraft however, or any other MMO really, there is nothing very new to be found here. In Rift, players can entire mini battlegrounds called Warfronts, in Warcraft, they're call Battlegrounds. Nothing is drastically different between the two.
You have your standard capture the flag or king of the hill type game modes to choose from, all of which are fun maybe the first few times you play them, but just like everything else in Rift, they grow repetitive and boring fairly soon. You've played them before…
For some, the fact that you virtually know nothing about how an opponent character may be built because of the highly customized class talent tree system, almost every fight with another player will be different. It would be very hard to develop any single strategy for taking down a specific class.
Graphically, Rift is a very pretty game and is perhaps one of the best looking MMOs I've ever seen to date. If cranked up on high settings, detail can be found in every nook and cranny of the game. And the cartoonish mix with reality art style was a big a plus for me. And the collectables part of Rift really helped show off the big, pretty world that Trion worked hard to deliver. Hidden across the world are things called artifacts, which can be picked up and added to a series of collections.
Presentation wise, the game ships with a wonderful soundtrack that kicks in whenever you enter a major city or a rift, but other than that, game music is almost non-existent which is a major shame since I loved what I had heard. Sound in general though is strangely muted and sword fights present none of the steel-clanging action I love to hear.
Trion promised a bug-free, flawless experience that threatened to take down World of Warcraft as we know it. By now however, we all know that it is not a WoW killer in any shape or form, yet it still is one of the most fun, and beautiful MMOs I've ever played. For veterans, the play style can get really repetitive really quick. For newcomers however, Rift is the perfect MMO to jump into for the first time.
- Score: 8.5/10
- Replay Value: Very High