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 …