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Rift Beta Impressions

So compliments of a fellow member of a local tech forum who keeps us updated on all the latest MMORPGs whether mainstream, unrecognized or in development I learned about Rift several months ago and due to the same person I recevied access to a beta key for the 5th or 6th beta. I decided to give it a chance so since I couldn’t get to play it as much I followed it into “Open Beta” and participated in that also.

You can see that the Rift developers have learned that media sells but not just any media but “flashy” media and we can see that from the intro which easily draws ones attention with its visuals. A somewhat sort of still animation (yes I know that sounds contradictory but thats what it is images mixed with animations in certain ares, kind-of  like Kanye West’s “Stronger” music video. It has now become common for one to choose not just servers but servers that follow their gaming preferences so if you are a “care bear” and you don’t want to be worried about getting jumped by anything but NPCs then one would choose a Player vs Environment (PvE) server, for those who like the PvE aspect but would also love to jump and own anyone of the opposing faction then there is there are the Player vs Player (PvP) servers and for the strong lore individuals who are serious about role playing (RP) there are the RP servers and some a combination of both.

What one would notice about Rift and if they have knowledge of other MMORPGs what has become a new standard is the ability to create both factions on the same server which in the past one could not do so in this case its the “Guardians” & the “Defiants” in the past if one choose to create a character of one faction on a specific server they could not create another character of a different faction, one would either have to go to different server all together or one would have to delete all characters pertaining to that one faction in order to create a character of another faction on the said server I guess they are trying to make things more Sandbox-like.

Interesting Class System

So after starting the game and choosing your faction just like in MMORPGs fashion you go on to choose your race and then your class here is possibly where Rift will shine if not shine brightly due to its approach to its class system. I often use to find it some what foolish why some classes had generalized names while some had specific names meaning, why have a Warrior Class, a Paladin Class and or a Barbarian Class in essence a Paladin & a Barbarian are jut two different versions of a Warrior Class so what Rift has done is to create a what you could call class generalization and then under that generalization are several branches of that said class.

Multiple Souls

These generalizations are Warrior, Cleric, Mage and Rogue even though a overly technical person may say a “Rogue” is also a Warrior but for the most part I like the approach. I think they have taken a step in the right direction and this is possibly one of the areas that shall truly separate Rift from other MMORPGs. Seeing that they didn’t just stop at creating the different variations of the main classes no no no they also allow one to combine from what I read as much a four (4) of those variations (simialar to what Guild Wars did way back in the days) that they label as “Souls” even though personally I only got around to utilizing three (3) “Souls” so there are quite a number of cominations that one can achieve with having all these builds (souls) to their disposal and it seems that one has the ability to switch from one Soul combination to another (similar to the “Dual Spec” in World Of Warcraft) to suite specific conditions so if one is a healer or tank and they are questing and they need the some damage output they could switch from their “pure healer” “Soul” set or “pure tank” Soul set to one of the damage Soul combination of the Cleric or Warrior class.

So after one chooses factions, race and class we jump in game to be greeted by the usual tutorial system that teaches you the basic and is also triggered by certain actions or events to explain to you whats going on, another thing Rift has done to set it self apart from other MMORPGs is that it has features built into its system that one would usually go to a 3rd party and dowload a mod to gain.

Questing and Interactive map

When a quest is given to you, you not only have information about the quest but there is a built in quest finder which is another some what new addition to MMORPGs (them watering it down so that its more appealing in my book) so now instead of reading throughly and understanding where to go like the good old days you now have a “circle” representing the general area where the quest is, an arrow pointing in the direction of the quest and if you hover over your pointer over the mini map of a specific circle it will even tell you which quest it represents. Also on the matter of maps Rift has a what it would seem to be a dynamic map that actively shows changes as they occur so if a rift is opening you see the animation at the location where the rift is and if an invasion of some sort is taking place you can actually see the invasion moving across the map in real time. The main map is also detailed and interactive hovering over towns or cities displays a picture/image of the location and hovering over invasions show you the path that they are taking I guess this helps to plan to intercept or perhaps how to avoid them on a whole.

Another feature which is often provided by 3rd party mods is “User Interface” (UI) customization Rift has a very detailed UI customization feature that allows one to have full control of the location of from what I saw every interface on your screen which usually comes in handy for everyone usually especially “Raiders”. There are other little things about the approach Rift has taken like the built in connection to “Twitter” (didn’t mean much to me I don’t use Twitter) and other little things that it has done differently (like the level of customization one can do to their chat window) or that it has brought to the table but these are the ones that I think will most likely be noticable.

Familiar but different

The in game experience is pretty much the same as the standard MMORPGs but all that really start to change after leaving the starting zone then it instantly becomes clear that Rift is fairly “PvE” oriented with its whole rift system which is basically random, spontaneous rips (in what I could only consider to be in time/space itself) occurring in the dimention that pours out not so friendly Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) which are labelled as “Invasions”. If one is not particularly keen of their surroundings a rift can literally open above you or a group of people and then one finds themselves suddenly surrounded by NPCs of that specific rift which are usually elemental related water, fire etc…. except for things like the “death rift” of course which is particularly vicious. What is also clear about Rift is that conditions dictate what types of rifts e.g. Rift has some what sort of time system and the days are usually less volitile than the nights during the nights it can get rather chaotic with almost a ridiculous amounts of rifts opening with sometimes only elites (NPCs on steroids) being spawned from them and usually a rift boss being spawned usually with his/her sights set on a town or a city. I’m use to when you are in a town you are safe but in Rift gone are those days since a rifts can literally open right on top of the town you are in which then PWNS everything in sight including the so called “Guard” NPCs I have yet to see that occur inside a main city but I have experinced it in towns around the map. The questing system is pretty straight forward as I mentioned earlier with the built in quest finder features finding quests are relatively easy, while completing them perhaps not so much but Rift has mimic the “Public Quest” system of WAR Online where depending on the situation usually with rifts you are automatically grouped with anyone who is attempting to close the rift at that specific time or you may be in a difficult area and you see a group of people and you can just join their group without the requirement of an invitation (it may be best to ask first though because they may have just forgot that their group was still public and just kick you & change in to private). As for the dungeons so far its the common five (5) man set up usually consisting of a tank, a healer and 3 dps/cc (damage per second & crowd control) consisting of sub and main bosses, elites and normal mobs. Overall with the questing, rifts, dungeons the strong PvE aspect of Rift is clear, I would have also mentioned “Raiding” but that term is no longer synonomus to just large scale dungeon event” seeing that some of the rifts can become mini raids upon themselves at times seeing how many people it may take to successfully seal a rift or to end an invasion.

PVP and Warfronts

As for PvP (I didn’t get to participate in that but my guild members dabbled into it a bit) it has what has become the normal PvP set up there are areas controlled by each faction, Guardians, Defiants and then Contested Areas that are not controlled by either faction which is basically open PvP, you get flagged for combat as soon as you enter these areas so its open season each faction is free to engage the other. There is also”Rift’s version of dedicated PvP area/zones known as Warfront (similar to BG in WoW or BF in WAR) these areas combine the goal driven team agendas with open PvP mayhem so there is more to do that just to run around and blindly kill the other faction (not like thats a bad thing), so this may be second home to all the PvP lovers out there.

Conclusion

Overall Rift seems to have a lot of potential in both the PvE and PvP aspects but I personally like control over my game play to quest when I want, instance when I want, pvp when I want and this whole almost force feed aspect with the random rifts can get tiresome after awhile expecially if you quest alone or the rifts are on a level that may in some cases block of a location you are trying to get to and attempting to pass through that rift is basically suicide.

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Ramano is a fan of the Far East and so tends to bask in such things as anime, manga and rpgs as a source of entertainment. Like many other indivudials of this generation he is also very interested in technology.

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