Rift Review

By Dan O'Halloran - Posted Mar 14, 2011

RIFT draws on the best aspects of other fantasy MMORPGs to create an entertaining and dynamic game. It's a game that is definitely worth the time that MMOs demand.

The Pros
  • Rift invasions are great fun
  • Dynamic class system
  • Polished gameplay at launch
The Cons
  • Well worn fantasy setting
  • Standard MMORPG gear grind
  • No automated grouping system for dungeons

RIFT Review:

Trion World’s RIFT is part World of Warcraft, part EverQuest 2, part Warhammer Online and all fun. With its dynamic world invasions constantly spawning, there’s never a dull moment while you quest, group, raid, PvP and craft your way through the world of Telara.

At first glance, RIFT looks like all the other fantasy MMORPGs out there. There are heavy influences from many sources, including WoW, EQ2 and others. The developers cherry picked the best features from those games for their own. If that’s all they did, we would be disappointed. Instead, they used those familiar systems as a base to build two great features into RIFT that makes it stand apart from the rest: the dynamic invasions and the flexible class system. And that’s what makes this title undeniably addictive.


The Invaders At The Gate

Here you are in the world of Telara, merrily questing your way through the countryside, killing 10 rats and running delivery quests. Quest objectives appear on your map so you know where to go and a quest tracker on your screen tells you how you are progressing. Suddenly, a call goes out across the zone. A dozen enormous rifts tear open in the sky and other worldly creatures pouring out of them. Before you know it, you are in a raid group that is thrown together on the fly, and you are battling the planar beings intent on overrunning your world. Thirty to forty-five minutes of frenzied mayhem later when the last rift has been sealed, you are rewarded with generous loot based on your participation and are free to go back to your level grind. Until the next rift invasion breaks all hell loose on the land in about an hour or so.

That’s the beauty of the game. It breaks up the monotony of the standard level and gear grind so common to these kinds of MMOs with the rift invasions. The invasions happen constantly and are great fun to participate in. They scale based on the number of people that are in your ad-hoc group as do the rewards. There are side missions as well stopping the planar creatures who try to invade and conquer nearby quest hubs and towns. Plus there is usually a boss mob that requires a full 40 person raid to take down to end the invasion. Choose your level of involvement and the game will reward you appropriately.

Deep in quest mode and not interested in the current invasion? You can usually skirt around the invasion hotspots to continue with what you were doing, but if your quest hub is overrun or your quest mob had a rift dropped on it, you are going to have to find something else to do until the other players take care of business. But if you skip the rift invasions, you are missing the point of the game. The really, really fun point.

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Multiclassing For Fun And Profit

The other great feature in RIFT is the flexible class system. Once you pick your archetype for your character among the warrior, rogue, cleric and mage options you are introduced to the soul system. Souls are essentially skill trees focused on unique roles for each archetype. Warriors can pick the Beastmaster soul, for example, to be a pet class or a Mage can choose the Warlock soul to be a debuffer. Your character can pick three souls to work with out of eight available to each archetype and invest points into each one to get what you want out of them. Mix and matching souls to fit your playstyle is great fun, but the true beauty comes next.

What if you choose three specialties, invested points into them and decided you don’t like it? No problem! Not only can you reallocate your points, you can actually choose different souls to work with. A few simple quests at level 15 allows you access to the other five souls you didn’t choose early in the game. You are still limited to working with three souls at any given time, but you can eventually buy more loadouts and switch between them any time you are out of combat. Warriors can have a tanking loadout with three souls that fit their style, a second loadout with three souls that are better for dealing with magic-based bosses, a third for DPSing and a fourth for off-tanking. No need to roll alts within the same archetype and face another gear and faction grind because another playstyle appeals to you. How’s that for multiclassing?


More Than Just A Pretty Face

Rift invasions and the class system are the crown jewels in this MMORPG. But the questing, group instances, PvP and crafting are top notch as well. Instances are designed for five players and are created around themes. The Realm of The Fae instance is sectioned out according to the seasons, for example. The creatures, foliage, even the weather changes from summer to fall to winter as your fight your way through the realm of the faeries. Each boss encounter has its own challenges and drops prized loot. You can tell the designers spent a lot of time making the instances immersive as well as enjoyable.

PvP comes in many flavors. Battlegrounds called warfronts are accessible as early as mid-teens with new maps and objectives opening up as you level. The first is a capture the flag variant, but holding on to the flag slowly kills the holder. World PvP comes later. Upon character creation you choose if you are going to side with the divinely-inspired Guardians to save Telara from rifts or the technologically-inclined Defiants, sent back in time from the future to prevent the destruction of the world their own way. The two sides have ample time to clash later in the game.


Get Your RIFT On

Trion did a great job of making gameplay fun, immersive and addictive. This title is a great addition to a genre that no one thought would see another great success since WoW. If you are burnt on your current MMO, I would highly recommend RIFT. If you are new to MMOs, this game a great place to start.