Rift Beta – Impressions

…note “impressions”, not a “review”.

Let’s get how much I played out of the way so that you have some context. I was part of both betas and in those two weekends I managed maybe about 5-10 hours of game play…maybe 10-15, but I’ll low ball it for now. I played a Shaman/Druid up to level 11, a Rogue up to level 7-ish, and a warrior up to about level 8-ish. So, not a great sampling…especially for the level range considering the beta went up to level 20 (…I think…). My favorite is certainly the Shaman.

I skip to the conclusion for those who hate reading: the game is very solid and fun to play.

Let’s expand on what I mean by “solid”. Technically speaking, the game is flawless. It runs beautifully on my machine to the point where I’m saying “beta who?”. If one of the goals at Trion is to make sure that it runs smoothly for the majority of people playing…well…mission accomplished. No crashes. No glitches. No hitches. One of the smoothest betas I’ve been a part of to date. During the first beta, I think the server crashed once and I hear that’s because a dev forgot to “carry the one” when playing around with spawns or something. The game is essentially every MMO you’ve played put into one MMO. It’s got EQ2′s collection feature. It’s got WAR’s PQ’s (…more on this later…). It’s got WoW’s achievement system and a hint of it’s skill tree system. Everything that has gone right in other MMOs, Rift has. Everything that has gone wrong in other MMO’s, Rift has left out.

The two main features that I took note of while playing were the rift and soul system. The rifts that pop up all over the world are essentially equivalent to the PQ’s that WAR has. Portals representing different elements (fire, water…yadda yadda…) open up and things start to happen. The land in the vicinity of the rift changes and mobs start to spawn and try to get a foothold on the land. When a player goes to a rift, the UI starts to indicate the goals needed to end the rift invasion. After the invasion is fought back, the player is rewarded with loot. From my limited exposure to the rift system, there really is no huge difference between it and WAR’s PQ system. Other’s with more knowledge than I may have a differing opinion and so might I once I get deeper into this system…but, if you imagine WAR’s PQs, then you’re pretty close to what’s going on with rifts.

Now, given that my max level character was level 11, I don’t think I’m too qualified to talk to the soul system. It is a very prominent character progression feature and I don’t want to misrepresent…so take this all with a grain of salt for now. During the very early stages of questing, the character is given a very simple choice of what “soul” they want to have: warrior, cleric or rogue. As the character progresses, more and more souls start to open up…seven in all I think. I got as far as choosing my second soul, so I can only imagine how flexible your character can become when you start to get into choosing the 4th and 5th soul. There is also a system in place in which you can buy “roles” for your character. I didn’t get the chance to take a look at that, so I have no opinion other than to state that this feature exists.

Graphically the game is gorgeous. Think AoC and you’re just about there. The sound and world around you are very well done as well. Certainly a AAA title when it comes you presentation. The UI has everything where it should be, although there are some areas of the UI that I think need some work….like the paper doll screen.

Now…the big question: will I be playing this at launch? Unknown at this point. I’m having fun with WoW and other single player games and I’m just not convinced I have the time for another MMO right now. If I were to get a good, solid group or guild…then maybe I can step away from WoW for a couple months and see what happens with Rift. I will eventually be playing it…no doubt, I just don’t think it will be a day one kind of thing. For those who do have the time and money to have another MMO going, I can highly recommend Rift at this time given the impressions I got from beta. It is a solid, fun offering into the the MMO space that has just enough variety to keep you interested and engaged.

D out.

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