Hello beautiful Destructoid friends! How are you doing? Have you lost weight? You smell nice!
So, Iím a pretty big fan of the MMO genre. I generally feel these games have a huge value when it comes to measuring the amount of fun you get out of a game for what you spend on it. I havenít played as many MMOís as some people, but I feel like I beat the average gamer by a large margin. Iíve bought and subscribed for at least one month for several games including WoW, Lord of the Rings Online, Lineage II and City of Villains. Iíve beta tested and free-trialed a countless number of other MMOís.
The newest MMO that I have played is titled Rift. This is quite an interesting MMO. Its developer, Trion Worlds, has quite an impressive background. The studio is made up of people who have worked on important MMOís like Aion, World of Warcraft and Everquest. I mean, if I was going to pull together a development team for a new MMO, Iíd want people from those exact MMOís working on my game. Perhaps some Lord of the Rings Online people too.
So, what drew me to beta Rift? Well, Iím all worn out from Cataclysm already. When Iím not subscribed to World of Warcraft, I feel like a free man. Itís so strange how different I feel when I donít have that $15 behemoth breathing down my neck, constantly whispering ďplay me, damn you.Ē It gives me time to play different games, hang out more on the Destructoid live stream (justin.tv/destructoid M-F @ 4pm PST), and generally do a ton of other things. I was talking to a friend and he reminded me of this Rift game I had heard about from somewhere a while back. I remembered I signed up for beta, but had totally forgotten about it. A few days ago, guess what shows up in my mailbox? A beta invite! So I downloaded and installed, and hopped in.
Enter: the panic. Normally, I spend the time that the client is downloading or installing looking at the classes and races offered in an MMO. I loaded up the website and looked it over. Okay, two main factions with three races per side. Well, three races is not a huge variety, but it beats most MMOís where you can only pick one faction or the other. Okay, so there are four main classes, seems easy enough. WaitÖthereís four base classes, or ďsouls,Ē but each ďsoulĒ has seven SUB-souls. And itís not like Lineage II where you pick a base class, and then as you level you pick one path. In Rift, you pick the base class and are then allowed to choose 3 classes to play SIMULTANEOUSLY. Iíve adapted my own terminology for the class system to keep track of things. When you first create your character, the first quest you do lets you pick your starting soul. If I roll cleric, I might decide to main the Shaman class. When I hit level 3, I get to choose my first sub class, which might be Justicar. By level five, I am able to sub my final class, Druid.
Gee, look familiar?
It was very overwhelming at first. What classes go well together? What role do I want to play? The game gives you suggestions on what classes seem to go well together. That being said, the game has a huge level of customization. Shaman, Justicar and Druid are all melee Cleric classes, so the game suggests you put all three together so you have a lot of melee-boosting options. However if you want to main a Shaman, sub a Justicar (both of which are melee dps classes) and then sub a Sentinel (a group-based healing class) there is nothing stopping you from doing so. You could pump out the damage while giving yourself the ability to heal your party or raid.
THAT, in my opinion, is what makes this game so cool. You donít have to pick a pre-defined class to fulfill a specific role: you design your own class and do what you want. If thatís not enough, you eventually get quests after level 10 where you can unlock the rest of your base classí souls, and you can switch out one of your classes with one of the others at any time. Using the Shaman/Justicar/Druid setup as an example, if I wanted to pick up the healing abilities of a Purifier, I could just drop Druid from my spec and bam: now Iíve got single-target heals. If that wasnít enough, they allow you to buy a second, third and fourth spec, so if your main spec setup is for melee dps, you can freely switch to your second spec which might have Sentinel, Purifier and Warden: a full healing setup.
On top of the class system being so cool, we have the events that give the game its name: rifts. These start as tiny, unopened portals in the sky. They either open by themselves, or a nearby player can manually rip the rift open. When a rift opens, this happens:
Rifts are like the Public Quest system in Warhammer Online. When a rift opens, you have the option to join a public raid group with other people in the riftís vicinity, and you team up to defeat all of the stages of monsters pouring out of the rift. If your group is successful at destroying all of the monsters that pour out of the rift, you are rewarded with a variety of items; from healing potions, battle items, weapons and armor. It is also a merit based system: at the end of each wave of invaders, you are given a contribution score. Those who actually fight monsters and heal their raid are given more contribution than someone who stands around and picks their nose. As your contribution score grows, you get more loot and more quality loot at that. It pays to be a team player.
As for the dungeons, I havenít done them yet (though I plan on doing one today if I can) so I canít really comment. The PvP aspect is a lot like World of Warcraftís battleground system. Itís a cross-server system so there are always people to play. These battlegrounds, called Warfronts in Rift, start at level ten. I have a Guardian and a Defiant character above level ten and Iíve already deduced that Defiant has way more players because they usually have a ten minute PvP queue while Guardians are instant-queue. The PvP is very interesting. Itís basically a mix of WoW and Warhammer, with a nod to classic PvP king: Dark Age of Camelot. No class seems super overpowered to be honest. Clerics are really hard to kill, but thatís kind of the idea. I'm not level 20 yet so I only have access to one Warfront at the moment: the Black Garden. The idea is that there is a large fang in the middle of the map, and whichever team holds onto the fang for the longest wins. However, whoever holds the fang takes periodic damage from the fang that increases in intensity the longer that one person holds it. It's a really neat game mechanic and has made for some really fun matches.
Overall, Iím really excited for Rift. If I had the cash on hand, Iíd be pre-ordering the special edition of the game. The special edition comes with some neat extras like a pet, a turtle mount, a Rift-branded USB flash drive and a hardcover collection of the comics for the game.
If you are interested in Rift, head over to the website at www.riftgame.com and sign up for the beta. The current beta phase will end Saturday @ 10 am, but there are two more beta phases planned before the game is released on March 1st.