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Rift Test: Free At Last

06/28/2013 10:29 am by Jonathan Smith in TestsDownload GamesMMORPG

Rift has been around for a couple of years now, but just this month the title was finally converted to a free-to-play model, allowing plenty of new players to see what all the fuss has been about. Since its original release in 2011, the game has been one of the more popular MMORPGs out there, earning a good deal of praise along the way from the player community and critics alike. We finally had a chance to sit down and play Rift for an extended period of time and we were not disappointed with what we saw.

What sort of game is Rift?

For starters, Rift is a fairly standard MMORPG with a massive in-game world, a class system, 2 opposing factions and your classic targeting and combat systems. What makes Rift unique in the genre is how it defines its classes and the unique world that has been imagined for the game.

The whole concept behind the Rift universe is that Telara (the world the game takes place in) lies at the intersection point of various elemental planes, where rifts are constantly opening, releasing hordes of monsters from any one of these elemental planes. Your whole purpose in Rift is to seek out and close these portals to save your home world from being overrun and destroyed by the various elementals. 
The game avoids the standard tropes of fantasy RPGs by creating its entire universe from the ground up, refraining from such standard faire as dwarves, orcs and elves, instead creating its own sort of humanoid races, each unique in their own right, but nothing so outlandish as panda or cow-people. With less over-the-top fantasy and a bit more sci-fi behind the game world and its inhabitants, the tone is a bit more serious, and feels like a more grown-up and less cartoonish game like so many other RPGs.

What is the gameplay like?

In terms of combat, leveling, questing and raiding, there isn’t any paradigm destroying stuff in Rift, but that isn’t necessarily bad. Rift builds off of what its predecessor MMOs did right. All of the systems behind these aspects of the game are much like those in the Everquest and World of Warcraft games/expansions. Generally speaking, you level up by earning experience, which is awarded when you kill monsters of complete quests. As you level up, you unlock new abilities and improve those that you already know. At the max level you can begin raiding and start improving your gear as you move through the progressively more difficult raid instances, nothing new here.

While it follows these standard MMO practices, Trion Worlds was no slouch when it came to making them interesting and unique to the Rift world. The quests are as varied and engaging as the more recent incarnations of WoW and the raid bosses and dungeons are all challenging in their own unique ways. The bosses don’t simply recycle one another’s abilities from dungeon to dungeon, so each one feels as fresh as the last.

Similarly, the loot that you are rewarded with from working your way through the various challenges of the game scales up with the difficulty of the tasks you complete and the monsters you defeat, with various tiers of items to quickly gauge their relative power to what you currently have equipped. The part where Rift really becomes interesting is in the class system.
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