So by the title of the blog you can tell that I've been playing a little bit of Rift. To be honest, this game wasn't even on my radar. I just happen to be cruising twitter one day when someone I follow posted some free beta keys and I decided, what the hell, I'll snatch one up and be like all the other big time bloggers and do some beta action.
After getting the key I took a look at Trion's website. I looked at a few in game screenshots and viewed a few videos on You tube about the concept of the Souls, their version of a talent tree/spell acquisition system. All of it looked pretty interesting. I was kind of "meh" about the whole thing because everyone knows that a beta test isn't really a good polished product. When most games get released, the public as a whole knows that is when the true beta testing for a product begins, so I wasn't really expecting a whole lot out of this experience. I really just wanted to be able to say I did it and give it a thumbs up or down.
Well, here are my impressions and I'm going to do it without giving you a lot of story background because to be honest, I don't really know what the whole story is. You have your two opposing factions, Defiant and Guardians. Both sides dislike each other but they both have a common enemy. This enemy is opening up Rifts to his plane of power and through these Rifts he sends out invaders to conquer the world. That's basically it in a nut shell. I'd tell you more, but I've really not read a whole lot of the story to be that well informed.
To begin with, I did not feel like I was playing a beta. The game ran very smoothly. The character animations were spot on. The spell visuals and the terrain were just stunning and ran extremely well on my old video card. I would have no issue with buying this game as is and fully enjoying it for months to come. Rift is ready for prime time. I've played purchased games that were not this well polished. (Damn, I was trying not to use that word!) I tried a number of different classes in the first beta but ended up leveling a Ranger/Marksman the highest. For the second beta I switched up a bit and played a Inquisitor/ Cabalist. Both very different and interesting to play. The inquisitor/Cabalist took some getting use to and eventually after some "Soul" tuning I got her in a spec that I really liked. I'd probably play both again once the game is released. The game world is huge. I quested from level 1 to 18 and not once was I required to zone, well, except when I accidentally found the entrance to a high level dungeon
The class system is very similar to the one originally in EQ2. Again this is my impressions. Basically, you pick a starter class from one of the four basics, Rogue, Warrior, Cleric and Mage. That is your starting "Soul". As you level you get talent points. You place those points in your respective soul and from that you derive your spells and abilities. At or around level 5 you get your second "Soul". You can pick any kind of combination, but the game give you helpful hints on how certain "Souls" will work or compliment each other. Further down the leveling process you'll be able to pick a third "Soul" and in effect making your character multi classed. You can spend your points as you see fit. If you want to pump them all into your starter "Soul" that's fine or you can split them up. Once you get a spell by placing a point in a talent, you will have to go to a trainer to train that spell up as you level. This process may not seem very innovated to other gamers, but to me it was pretty cool. I was able to experiment more with the whole "Soul" concept on my second beta run. This interesting way of getting talents and abilities might not seem that unique, but it will provide players with lots of class combinations. When people hit max level, I don't see a lot of min/maxing when it comes to classes. Sure, some will be better than others, but with the multitude of different combinations available to everyone, I see a future filled with a lot of different specs.
So what is very different about Rift that makes it the game to play next year? Rift uses the Warhammer Public Quest idea, but takes it a bit further. Instead of static public questing areas, there will be Rifts that open up in various random areas where players will have to pull together to defeat these dimensional invaders. If a Rift opens and players don't shut it down fast enough, the Rift will spawn a invasion team. This invasion will start roaming the zone looking for things to kill and not just players either. I've seen a Rift get out of hand to the point where these mobs invaded a questing hub killing all the NPCs and basically shutting that area down for players till the invaders where dealt with which can only happen when players get together to push them the invaders out. This confirmed one thing for me. Rift is all about players working with each other. There really is no "I" mentality when it comes to dealing with Rifts or invasions. I also felt that the game wasn't built for the solo player. Sure its possible, but you end up with a lot of down time and that can suck. Its better to already have a group of people you plan to play with. This will make the questing and dealing with Rifts a lot easier. Oh one safety tip that I discovered. Don't go afk near a quest giver. If an invasion happens and no one is there to fight it off, you'll die. Also, one extra thing I have to mention. Invasions can happen randomly, but the power to create a rift opening is actually in the hands of the player. There will be spots on the map that indicate a Rift forming, at an early level in the game, players are given a spell that will let them open a rift so they can defeat the invaders on their terms. Course a lot of players run around opening up Rifts only to run off afterwards and this can cause a lot of trouble as stated before.
I have heard the devs say the number and level of an invasions will depend on the number of players in a zone. So I don't foresee 2o invasions hitting a zone if only 4 players are populating it. However, if the players in a zone don't form up and defeat the Rift, then it will only cause them more problems later while questing. So its in the players best interest to assist his fellow player.
What else is there to say? Oh yea, crafting.
There is crafting for those that love to make stuff. You can train up three different professions but that includes crafting and gatherings skills, so choose wisely what will help you in the end. I tried out armor crafting and weapons crafting. The armor crafting was out of necessity since I created a dual wielding warrior but couldn't find an decent one handed weapons through questing, so I was forced to make my own, which was easy enough. The crafting is very standard WoW fair. No special tricks or buttons to push. If you have the materials you can craft an item. You can also add extra stats to an item through augmentations done at the time of crafting. Some of those you get through questing or rewards for defeating Rifts.
Was there anything truly "Innovative" about Rift? Not really. Warhammer introduced us to Public Questing and Rift just does it better and in a very unique way. Will it be a true competitor to games like World of Warcraft and EQ2? I don't see why not. The ability to open up a Rift and start an invasion will keep players on their toes and ramp up the excitement for months on end. The dev team has already completed a number of dungeons and raid instances, so there should be plenty for the players at end game. From levels 1 to 20 there was a lot of great content to consume. I didn't feel like I had to start farming mobs to grind my xp. They already had several repeatable quests in the game, so I can imagine more of that to come.
I just liked the game. Will it be a day one purchase? Most likely. The game is wonderful with the Rift action and the visuals the game has a lot of potential to be a contender. It won't knock WoW off its horse, but it will do very well in the race.