Rift is a free-to-play, fantasy-based MMORPG, developed by the individuals over at Trion Worlds. This particular MMO has been around for quite some time now, with its original release being back in the early days of 2011, but was met with mixed reactions; partly due to its subscription based service that regular users of World of Warcraft didn’t really feel the want or need to balance between the two games. In the middle of 2013, Trion Worlds made the jump to F2P with a large amount of success – for a number of different reasons that will be covered as much as possible from here on out.
Of all the aspects of this MMO I’m going to cover, this is going to be the most superfluous of them all, hence the reason it’s the one that’s going to be cropping up first and foremost. There’s plenty to see and do in Rift, as I’m sure you’re not surprised by and the visuals for any MMO take a little bit more precedence than in any other genre; down to the fact that you’re going to be putting hundreds of hours into this one character, so you might as well enjoy it.
When you first load up Rift, it’s recommended that you go into your settings to update your graphics, because when I first landed in the world of this fantasy MMO I was rather disappointed at how it looked. Thankfully, a lot of that was down to how low the graphics are on default, so they definitely needed a change. After making the change I did see a significant boost in the game’s aesthetics – especially so in the case of its colours. While the colours aren’t quite as bright and vibrant as some of the more modern MMO’s, the overall aesthetics for the game manages to hold up quite well over time; just as long as your computer can handle the higher settings.
Even with these changes, however, the skills and animations that you’re going to be seeing a lot of the time are somewhat underwhelming, if I’m being honest. Despite the max settings, spell effects and animations come off as rather simple and basic, and while I wouldn’t go as far to say that they look bad – I do feel that they aren’t any better than simply “okay”.
With a lot of MMO’s the character creation portion of the game is sometimes little more than an afterthought; something that is a really big downside for a lot of players. Thankfully, with Rift you don’t have too much to worry about on that front. There’s a lot you can tweak, edit, and mess around with when it comes to your character – all of which is just enough to make the character what you desire. The character creator for Rift isn’t quite as detailed as some other MMORPG’s that come to mind, such as Tera, but overall it manages to do a good job of giving the player more than enough to make the kind of character that they’re looking for.
Just before you make a start on the character you wish to make, you’re going to need to choose between two sides: the Defiant and the Guardian. Depending on which side you choose, you will be able to pick from a certain set of races that are exclusive to each side. Other than just for the sake of aesthetic pleasure, the race you choose will net you a small racial bonus for your character; something that won’t matter so much for the casual player. If you have plans on playing until you finally get to the end game then I’d recommend looking at what race you want to pick, as that racial bonus is going to eventually contribute to your character’s success.
Combat is your bread and butter of pretty much any MMORPG that you come in contact with, so the more enticing and addicting the combat and gameplay loop truly is then that’s what’s going to keep you in the game for much longer.
Rift went with the style of “if it isn’t broke; don’t fix it” because it has the same sort of combat style that’s been popularised by MMO’s for a while now. Run up to any enemy that’s looking for a fight, right-click on them to trigger combat, and then proceed to watch as you both take swings at one-another until one of you drops dead. When it comes to the combat, it’s your typical hot-bar MMO, where you hit a key on your hot-bar to activate a skill that will proceed to deal significant damage to your target, heal them, curse them, or whatever else your particular skills do depending on your chosen class.
It’s a system that manages to work just fine and even though it may not be overly complicated, it’s still combat that you can lose yourself into for a few good hours without succumbing to any real sense of boredom. Just because it’s not quite as engaging as an action-based system, that doesn’t mean this combat style is flawed or boring; not in the slightest.
Of all the extras in Rift, I feel the soul tree is one that deserves some more of the limelight; due to just how much of an impact it can have on every single one of your characters that you play as.
Inside the wondrous world of Rift, you can pick and choose from 5 starting classes and they are as follows:
Each of the classes seem relatively simple with their starting roles and they are what you would expect from your typical MMO; with the exception of the Primalist, a class – or calling as they are referred to in the game – that resembles a lot of the characteristics of the Druid in World of Warcraft.
At the start of the game you pick one of these 5 starting classes and build them accordingly, until you finally gain access to an “ascended soul”. What this item effectively does is it allows you to pick from over 30 different secondary class options to design your character as you see fit. In a very simple way of describing the system, it’s a lot like a skill tree that you would normally see in an MMO, except incredibly more detailed.
This Soul Tree allows you to shape your character in whatever direction you like. By any chance, have you ever wanted to play the world’s most tanky mage? Well, Rift gives you that exact chance. Maybe you’d prefer to be a rogue that keeps themselves along with their teammates, up and alive; all the while stabbing their enemies in the back within the same encounter.
With the inclusion of PvP builds, there’s a grand total of just over 300 different combinations for you to tackle and enjoy, so there is a little something for everyone. Oh, and to top all of that off, you can have a maximum of 5 of these builds saved up, so if you’re looking to try something new without completely starting over with a new character then you’ve got this system to contend with.
Overall, Rift is one of those MMORPG’s that’s doing a pretty decent job of not showing its age, even though it’s been around for just over 6 years in total now. From a visual perspective it isn’t the most amazing MMO you will ever see, but it does manage to hold your interest as a player throughout the entire game without finding the visuals too dull of an experience. Combat is what you would expect from a hot-bar MMO and while the overall experience of the combat is fairly simple and easy to get the hang of, it’s not the sort of thing you will easily find yourself getting tired with.
The Rift system that acts as like a 5 minute mini-raid that pops up everywhere on the map is a nice and entertaining idea, but when you sit down and realise just how many of those Rifts open up all over the place, you end up getting this feeling that you’re stuck doing them over and over again. Pacing yourself with the Rifts, however will manage to keep the interest a little higher, though, you just need to be careful with how often you decide to do them.
When it comes to the Soul Tree it is a great inclusion to the game that is quite easily the biggest reason to stay and play Rift. There’s so much player-choice when it comes to the classes that you can pick and choose from and the 300 different combinations that you can choose from means that you’re never truly going to experience everything the game has to offer from a class standpoint; and that in itself is quite exciting.
Rift is an interesting amalgamation of mechanics that we’ve never seen before and ones that you will typically see in your average MMORPG. I have to say, though, Rift manages to do enough to keep the game interesting for both casual and hardcore fans of the MMO genre and of all the F2P MMO’s out nowadays, it’s refreshing to see one that relies a lot more on skill and dedication, rather than P2W.
With all of these factors roped into my decision, I can’t help but warrant recommending the game to any MMO fans out there that have yet to try the game for themselves; I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.