E3 ‘10 PREVIEW: Rift (PC)

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning expanded the usual MMORPG experience by introducing public quests, missions that anyone could engage in without having to group together or enter an instance. They were just a series of events that had players fulfilling a series of challenges (usually of the “Kill X number of monsters” variety), and when the mission string was completed, players received awards proportionate to the amount they contributed. They were an instant hit because not only was it easy and fun co-op, but a competition at the same time.

The problem with public quests was that they were fairly static. They were always in the same place, with the same requirements and the same creatures. Rift, an MMO by newcomer Trion Worlds, promises to change that with innovative dynamic gameplay.

Rift is a standard MMO is many ways: the world of Telara has been devastated, and two factions, the mechanical Defiant and the magical Guardians. Players pick their faction, then choose a class from the four classic archetypes: mage, rogue, fighter, cleric. From there, players can choose sub-classes, and pick and choose skill trees at level 15 and 30 to create their own unique PC, who go out into the world and do the usual MMO stuff: fight, conquer, complete quests, and so forth.

What adds spice to the game is its own brand of public questing through the use of Rifts. Rifts are tears in reality from various planes, which include Life, Death, and the four classic elements. Players can open the rift to begin a long public quest, which starts with a few fairly easy tasks that can be solo’ed. As the player progresses, the tasks become more and more difficult, requiring more players to join in to complete them. As each task is solved, a reward is given out to players, increasing in value as the tasks get more and more dangerous.

A Death Rift.

What makes these public quests new is that they’re never in the same place and players don’t know what’s inside the rift or what quest series. Furthermore, these Rifts, if left unchecked, will open themselves, corrupting the land with whatever theme they possess; for instance, a Rift from the Plane of Life will cause monstrous plants to infest the area. The Rifts literally alter the landscape, twisting and mutating the region as they grow larger and more powerful. These public quests aren’t going to wait for players to check them out.

Even solving Rifts will lead to trouble, as after the period of peace that comes from cleaning the Rift, the plane that created it in the first place hits back, causing an invasion of creatures in retaliation. There’s no rest for the weary!

The game has plenty of standard MMO staples as well – instances, minibosses, crafting, auction houses, and so on, but Rifts can even effect those. Players can inadvertently sproing a mini-Rift inside their own base, and have to deal with invading planar creatures.

Rift looks like a promising new fantasy MMO; you can check out the official site here.

Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.

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