Review: Rift: Planes of Telara (PC)

Rift: Planes of Telara
Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Release Date: 03/01/2011

Hey MMO fans, this is John Hall, back again for a review of the brand new MMO Rift: Planes of Telara. I have played the Beta of this game, done a hands-on preview and attended a press roundtable for the site. Now it all culminates here in a review of the game. Does this new MMORPG stack up against other games of this genre? Let’s find out!

There are many worlds in the universe, but one called Telara rests upon several powerful planes of reality, thus causing a Nexus. The elemental gods of the Blood Storm had been devouring worlds in the universe. However, when confronted with the power that Telara brought, the Blood Storm turned on each other and sought to rule over Telara rather than destroy it. The gods of Telara sought to combat the evil that was the Blood Storm, by imprisoning each elemental deity one by one. Standing united, the Telarans managed to even imprison Regulos, god of Death, and leader of the Blood Storm. The mages of Telara then fashioned a Ward, a magical barrier around their world, to protect themselves from further incursions. The Ward held for Eons, but suddenly it was breached. King Aedraxis had somehow made it possible for Regulos’ power to poison Telara. The Ward fractured, creating what was known as, “The Shade,” which swept across the land, destroying or maiming whatever touched it. The world of Telara is being torn asunder by tears in reality, otherwise known as Rifts. Rifts are caused when other planes of existence intersect with the wards that protect Telara. Telaran scholars have identified six planes that interact with Telara through the cracks in the Ward, each representing an element of the universe: Life, Death, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It is possible there are more, but these are the known ones.

I have played a few games that deal with similar subject matter. Worlds get invaded, portals open up, gods want to take over the world….the list could go on. Still, I feel that Trion Worlds took enough ideas from other places, boxed them differently, and then jumbled them around to create a pretty unique story for themselves. Yes, gods are invading. Yes, it’s a battle for the planet. However, I find myself actually paying attention to the story rather than just sweeping it under the rug, and that says a lot for it.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: damn, this game is pretty amazing looking. This game can be played on low end machines with a built-in low quality renderer, and the game still looks fantastic. It can also be played, if you have the machine to do so, in full HD at ultra settings and the end result looks just amazing. When using the full blown HD, you really get the feel that this world is under attack and that you need to duck and cover to get around in it. There are explosions, fires, smoke, and buildings that look torn asunder that just really make this game stand out. When playing in low quality, sure you miss the little things but it’s still a fantastic looking game compared to nearly every other MMO out there, hands down. The colors are brighter, the people look more realistic and the buildings look more textured. I could go on and on, but suffice to say, this is one of the best looking MMOs I’ve been able to play throughout the years.

First off, in this day and age, why can we not get a fully voiced MMO on the market? I have never understood why that in the year 2011, we still need to be reading text bubbles. That said, the rest of the game sounds just unbelievable. I always find myself looking over my shoulder, or looking to the door of my room, thinking that someone is calling to me. Whether it is the “Quest Accepted” sounds, your boots crunching(or pounding) on whatever surface you are walking on, or the “Level up” thunder that sounds when you, well, level up, every sound in this game is distinct, crisp and well thought out. Heck, even the sounds you make when wearing cloth instead of leather are not only quite different from each other, but they sound exactly like you’d think they would. Even the in-game music has a very high fantasy feeling. Every track reminds you that you are out there fighting for your life, and that’s a big thing. A lot of MMO soundtracks can get repetitive and boring. I don’t get that feel from this game.

The controls will be VERY familiar to anyone who has played pretty much any MMO in the last decade. You will always hear cries of “this copied X” and “no, X copied Y! ” Yes, the controls are pretty much standard fare. You have hotbars to click(or assign a keyboard key to)which activates your abilities, you use your mouse to rotate the camera, and so it goes with other MMO gameplay trapping. Most MMO games nowadays use this scheme to play their games, so there’s not much originality there. That said, with this game you can customize EVERYTHING you see on screen. You don’t want hotbars on the bottom? Wham! Put them on top. You don’t like the ones on the side? WHAM! Get rid of them. The UI customization for this game is far beyond any of the MMOs out there today, without an add-on. Most other games you can adjust the key bindings, letting you move things here and there. For a lot of other MMORPGS, you need a third party mod to do this. These guys were smart enough to know that we, as gamers, want things exactly where WE want them, and not in some predisposed location on the screen that you can’t change and move around. To top it off, if you have multiple chars on a server, you can import those settings to a new character. What if you don’t have this character on the same server? WHAM! Just export the settings to a file and import them to the other server via command prompt.

Everything is simple and easy to use. It’s familiar but much more customizable.

This is a bit of a moot category for an MMO….unless you are like me. I absolutely love to level up characters. I’m not what you’d call an endgame raider. Even if you are not the type to level up a character multiple times, this is one game that may change that. The character class combinations are just mind boggling. There are four basic standards (mage, cleric, rogue and warrior) but each standard has eight souls to choose from, of which any three can be combined in any way you see fit. Above that, you get four choices of any three combinations that you can have at any time. On top of THAT, you can reallocate any points you have spent at any time(for a bit of gold), or change out your souls and rebuild your character because you didn’t like the build you had. The only thing that can’t be changed out is your primary class (mage,cleric, rogue and warrior). So this means most players will make a minimum of at least four characters, even if they usually just stick to a single one in other MMORPGs. This doesn’t even include the ninth soul you get at level fifty, which is a PvP soul that you can add into the mix.

I solo play most of these games. This game makes it supremely easy to group up with other players to finish tasks and quests. So even when soloing, you are more than likely to be joined, or join up, with someone eventually. What if you come across something you can’t defeat on your own? No problem, there’s probably someone near you thinking the same thing. Pop the + icon over someone’s head, and bingo – you are now in a group. (This is providing that said person doesn’t have his grouping set to private…) Most of the rifts you come across will be surrounded by people and in these situations, another button pops overhead that reads, “Join public group.” Most Rifts you can actually close on your own, but to get to higher stages where the boss fights are tougher, you need more people. There are also some dungeons in this game, that you need a group for. To get that, you just chat in town or get some friends together. For the most part, I never felt I “needed” to group up (Yeah, I miss some good items playing solo, but really you can feasibly level to max level on your own) but it is one of the only MMOs that I actually LIKED grouping up with strangers.

Do you like to craft items for other players? You can do that. Do you like grouping with others? You can do that. Do you like to go it alone? You can do that. Do you like to collect trophies (called artifacts in this game)? You can do that. Do you like killing monsters? You can do that. Do you like to destroy other players? You can do that. Overall, I find that when I sit down to this game, I play for hours on end. This game has something for everyone who likes this type of game for sure. Some people will play more than others. Some will even sit down for days.

This genre of game is not for everyone for sure, for many reasons. Some people balk at paying monthly for a game. Some others complain about monthly fees, yet buy all the DLC of a game, spending more than I do in a month, and finish said game in two weeks, while I go on to play my MMO for years.) Some people don’t like any version of a RPG. Some hate playing with others. MMO’s are a niche game, but there are millions upon millions of us who like this kind of game, so again that says something.

As far as MMOs go id have to say this definitely stands out above, or at equal, with World of Warcraft. I’ve had several of my WoW buddies read these reviews and articles, and because of them, they have now switched over to Rift. The game itself has a more difficult feel to it over most other MMOs, which makes it stand out over the constant dumbing down effect of other MMO’s. It’s not difficult in game terms, but it’s not super easy cruise mode either. (which WoW has become outside of the endgame, as is a lot of the free MMO games, or micro transaction MMOs out there these days.) Another thing I didn’t get into in my previous articles on the game is the crafting. They have several crafting tree’s to choose from, all fun in their own way. The nodes’ offerings increase as the population of the game progresses ( More people and crafting mats in an area), which makes it fairly easy to gain crafting materials. The items you craft at low levels are a bit more useless than other MMOs in my opinion. Instead of crafting low level armor, instead you’ll find yourself basically just making that armor to throw away as it merely ups your crafting ability. This is because in less than a level (for some items), you’ll just be replacing said items. Other crafting trees are a bit more useful (like runecrafting and Alchemy), some are just not well balanced and others still don’t have enough decent items to warrant using them. Unfortunately, you’ll have to slog through those to get high enough to make decent high level items that are usable for a better length of time. I found myself too high of a level to use a lot of the stuff I ended up making, but there are always buyers out there on the auction house that could possible use those items, so you can still invariably make a profit if you have the patience. Trion Worlds also have a level up system for guilds where everyone who is a member can contribute to the guild level by completing facets of the guild quests. These vary from closing X number of rifts, to completing dungeons X times a week. Doing this gives the guilds perks. Perks are basically buffs, spells or bonuses that everyone in the guild gets when the guild levels up and the GM (guild master) puts points into the perks that are available to said guild. There is also a TON of room for expansion in this game as it deals with worlds that intersect with each other and even all of the established continent isn’t fleshed out yet. If the devs deliver like they have been doing, it could be a juggernaut of a game.

The Scores:
Story: Very Good
Graphics: Incredible
Sound: Unparalleled
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Good
Balance: Good
Originality: Above Average
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Very Good
Final Score: Very Good Game!

Short Attention Span Summary:

The graphics and sound of RIFT are as well done as the gameplay itself. Trion Worlds has taken some familiar trappings, puts their own spin on it, and definitely makes it their own. The gameplay will be familiar to current MMO players, but it’s far more customizable than every other game out there. RIFT is also more dynamic that any other MMO that I have played to date, with most of the game taking place in the game’s world instead of dungeon crawling. The character creation leaves a bit to be desired in some aspects, but the character leveling and customization systems are nothing less than fantastic. Will Some already have, and even more will make the switch. Will it stand the test of time? I believe it will, but that will also depend on if the developers deliver on future promise.



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