RIFT: To beta and beyond


If you read many MMO related blogs, you cannot have missed the fact that Trion’s new MMO, RIFT, has just dropped the NDA from its beta testers. And suddenly, 2011 is looking as though it could be a very good year for new MMOs indeed.

I did have a chance to check out the beta during the last beta test weekend, during which the Guardian faction was given a workout from levels 1-20. Since I really didn’t have much time to play, this isn’t going to even be a first impression post because that’s not really fair to the game, especially when so many other bloggers have commented in more detail.

Here’s a few links to previews:

  • Tipa at West Karana loves what she has seen so far and can’t wait to play. (I think it’s a shame that other bloggers have been jumping on her for being enthusiastic about the games she tries. What we need is more enthusiasm, not less.)
  • Oakstout liked the game and comments here on the crafting side of things.
  • Keen gives the game a resounding meh, but not because it’s bad, finding it too much of the same old same old.

Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed the first section of the guardian play area which covers levels 1-10. The quests are directed and yet there’s plenty of opportunity to wander around and explore too. The devs also take the opportunity to show off some off quests involving collections, items to use both in your bag and in the game world, mounts (you get to ride one, for a brief while at least), and events triggered on your presence as well as the usual kill ten rats (K10R) style. I suspect from friends’ comments that at higher levels (as is usual these days) the quests tend to be a bit less polished and a bit more K10R. The lore looks intriguingly different from standard fantasy types, yet still leaving room for elves, dwarves, and all the favourite class tropes. Mechanically it’s a standard MMO with some interesting quirks which won’t offer many surprises to anyone used to the hotbar selection method of combat




I’m not sure which game engine they’re using but movement and turning in particular felt very responsive, and the graphics are lovely. This is one of the prettier versions of a female dwarf I’ve seen.

One of the interesting sides to the game is that you effectively get to build your own character class from different sub-templates called souls. So you might start with one of the base warrior/ rogue/ wizard/ priest souls and later on can add up to three extra specialist subsouls.

With this many potential combinations, it’s not clear to me yet whether Trion are taking the ‘lets try to balance them all’ or ‘some will be overpowered, some will be weak, take your chances!’ approach. I suspect it may be the latter, in which case I’d recommend people check the forums for which are the better combinations before playing.

The game also features Rift events, which bear some similarity to Public Quests in WAR. (I’m not against people being inspired by WAR, I thought it was a brilliant game in many respects and there are plenty more thoughts that I wish more games WOULD steal.)


Bloggers have compared the game to Warhammer Online, to EQ2, and to WoW, which will give you a rough idea where Trion is coming from. It looks very full featured to me for a beta, with tabs for raid groups, and collections, and apparently there is some PvP to be tested in the next beta too.

I think there is definitely a market for a new EQ2/ WAR style fantasy MMO which is able to take some of the better ideas from existing gen MMOs. I also think Rift will be in direct competition with Guild Wars 2 (which will also strongly feature dynamic events and flexible class building). What I’m not sure of is exactly how large that market is. In any case, Rift is definitely one to keep an eye out if you’re interested in the genre and would like to get in on the ground floor. And the next beta event starts on Dec 29th. For what it’s worth, I’m looking forwards to playing the game again, so that has to be a good sign.

I do wonder whether “you’ll love it if you like that type of thing” is the best thing you can say about a new game, or the worst …

11 thoughts on “RIFT: To beta and beyond

  1. I think people are just feeling now that they’ve been burned so often before, they can’t bring themselves to do it all over again.

    Runes of Magic, Allods Online, Warhammer, Alganon, all the various other games cut from the WoW mold. Gather them together with the recent disappointments from the non-WoW-like world — EQ2’s naked greed, LotRO’s nickel and dime approach, and so on.

    I believe people are giving up on the MMO genre. If total originality was what people craved, they’d support the truly original games in the oeuvre, but typically, those games get pounded for straying too far from the industry standard, WoW.

    Rift is like reading “A Song of Fire and Ice” after “Wheel of Time”. ASoFaI isn’t going to make you forget WoT, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to read it.

      • Haha, wanted to say the same. But which is WoT, WoW or Rift? 🙂

        I recommend you to read “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson, the same guy that took over WoT after Jordan’s death. It has huge potential. Maybe it can be compared to Guild Wars 2? :>

        This one is my favorite author. He is already dead, but his works are still being published. Maybe he can be compared to Ultima Online?

        The book comparison makes sense, but I am afraid it only goes so far… I have a hard time describing why I feel I won’t play this in the end while thinking it is really good at the same time.

        I found it very interesting how many “This reminds me of (insert EVERY MMO you know and some more!!!)” discussions popped up in zone chat. This is not uncommon actually, but it was *extreme* on Wolfsbane!

        I would like to quote Spinks:
        “I do wonder whether “you’ll love it if you like that type of thing” is the best thing you can say about a new game, or the worst …”

        2011 is going to become an interesting year for MMO gamers. Rift, SWTOR, GW2, TERA, …

      • I’m a huge fan of David Gemmell too 😉

        As far as playing Rift goes, I have a lot of sympathy with Hawley’s position which is that he’d play it if his friends did. In any case, like I say, looking forwards to trying it again at the next test.

        And yeah, I think this time I’ll go the warlock/ necromancer route (like half the server who wasn’t playing healers 🙂 )

  2. I’m not sure if it’ll get in to this next Beta, but they’re planning on front-loading character development a bit more. That is, giving us more points and more souls to choose from, early on in the ‘life’ of the character.

    I think that’ll help players tweak things to suit their playstyle (or the weakness of a particular soul). In Beta 1 I played a Reaver/Void Knight and had a melee class with no self-heals and down time was starting to be an issue when the beta ended. I knew when I got my 3rd soul I’d look for something with some healing capability, but it felt like a long slog from level 5 (iirc the point where you pick soul 2, at which time you still don’t have a great feel for soul 1) and level 18 when you get your 3rd soul.

    So hopefully under the new system we’ll be adding a 3rd soul by level 10 or so, in order to fill in any bits of our character that isn’t sitting well with us.

    • I think for me, I’m a bit burned out on the whole class based design. I’m just tired of feeling like I have to choose between a good solo class/ spec and a good grouping class/ spec.

      It may be that Rifts have solved this in their design, but just the thought of having to make that choice again dismays me.

      • I had a Cleric that could not heal till level 18… I wrote in the Cleric Beta Forum about that.

        It is a general problem: Respeccing is easy, you can buy up to four roles… but you are stuck with your first two soul choices from level 6 to level 18.

        Guess what, My Reaver/Warlord/Riftblade combo at level 18 sucked as well. Bad choice, bad luck… 🙂

        Reaver was okay, Warlord useless, Riftblade also bad and a bad pairing (thought it would work, but probably only works with the Paragon as combo). Later I tested Paladin, the “good” tank equivalent of the “Death Knight” tank style Reaver. Guess what, I think Paladin is better or at least more to my liking after only playing till level 6… lots of reactive Shield Bashes.

        They have to find a solution for this… give people a training area where they can experiment with the various souls of their calling. Justicar was also not what I expected. And that Inquisitors who both have power about life and death have no single weak heal was also a bit unexpected.

        Tipa and you experienced yourselves that Rogues fall behind souls of other callings. This can REALLY piss off people. From the vague and very poetic descriptions nobody can make much sense without extensive website and forum research. Maybe that’s the downside of the system. For it also offers a lot of variety once one has a bunch of souls to switch between.

      • P.S. I had a pure Inquisitor soul for questing and could switch on the fly to pure Sentinel for dungeons. 2 Roles of 4 max – 2 more left. 1 for PvP? 1 role is left. Maybe this will be the “for testing souls” role.

      • Yeah, the “nice” (if you choose to look at it that way) thing about Rift is that with the roles feature, you can easily swap between the solo and grouping roles, rather than having to have two separate characters for that, or having to pay for a respec each time you want to switch, etc.

  3. Pingback: My MMO Outlook for 2011 « The Ancient Gaming Noob

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