Not only do you have a huge variety of combinations to choose from, but you can unlock up to four Roles. Roles are different builds that you can swap between whenever you feel like it, so long as you’re not in combat. One can easily have a soloing role, a grouping role, a PVP role, and a dungeon role, or maybe you just want four roles of four completely different types of characters. This system makes it very easy to group up with people and not have an awkward amount of overlap. I’m built as a healer, but we already have a healer? No problem, I’ll switch to my dps role. Furthermore, if you build a role that you’re not happy with, respeccing is extremely affordable and you can start off anew again with completely different souls slotted if you so choose.
Dynamic Content: Rifts and Invasions
Dynamic content has quickly become a valued asset to an MMO, and RIFT certainly delivers in that area. All the zones have your standard questing fare for leveling up and such, but there is another system in play as well: the rift and invasion system. Rifts will randomly spawn in the world starting as tears which you can either force open or will open on their own after a short time. The story here is that the world of Telara is overlapped with six other planes of existence: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Life, and Death. Frequently, one of these planes will tear into Telara creating a rift which allows creatures from that plane to enter the world. Though the rifts themselves are stationary, they will spawn invasions (groups of mobs that can run willy-nilly throughout the zone, attempting to slaughter everything in their path). These invasions can overrun quest hubs and towns, killing all the NPCs. This makes it super important for players to beat the invasions back to reclaim the territory. To nip the problem in the bud, however, the rift spawning the invasions must be closed.
Rifts are often several stage events where you have to kill the enemies that remain at the rift, guarding the walkway between worlds. There are minor, major, expert, and raid rifts of increasing level of difficulty. Once a rift or an invasion is defeated, participants are rewarded with planarite (a currency), consumables, or wearable items. This is handled via the UI, so you can just collect all your goodies after you’re done fighting without having to worry about your awesome loot decomposing. Defeating rifts and invasions can be quite good xp as well (in fact, some of my friends actually prefer to do as much of their leveling as possible “rift-hunting”). There’s also a grouping system in place that makes it easy to get into groups with players for rifts and invasions. If there’s a public group available around that rift or invasion, a button will appear at the top of your screen, displaying the words “Join Public Group.” No more spamming “can I get an invite, please?” or having to waste time figuring out who to invite to your party.
The more active the zone is, the more rifts and invasions will spawn. I like to think of it akin to the director in Left 4 Dead 2. The better your side is doing, the more the AI wants to beat you into the ground, so it will spawn more and more rifts and more and more invasions. Every once in awhile, it will trigger a zone event. These are zone-wide invasions of a particular type of rift. Literally dozens of rifts can simultaneously spawn and start pumping out invasions. Players in the zone will automatically get a quest informing them of the objectives to “win” the event, such as closing a certain number of rifts or defending certain important points in the zone. Most events culminate in a huge boss or bosses. If these bosses are taken down, participants are rewarded with extra special loot.
These zone events feel suitably epic (I’ve participated in events where hundreds of players have been beating on a boss), and I’ve had a blast doing them. Hal even mentioned to me that the way RIFT is set up, it would be possible to even do world-wide events in the future. That just blows my mind. I’ve never felt so unsafe in an MMO world before, and I think that’s awesome. The world of Telara isn’t sunshine and rainbows. It’s at war with not just one but six other planes of existence which are all in turn vying for power against each other as well. When I play RIFT, I feel like I’m in a world besieged and that I’m part of a resistance defending that world. I can’t just plop myself down in a quest hub and go make a sandwich, because there’s a good chance when I get back I’ll have fire goblins dancing gleefully on my corpse.
There’s certainly much more to say about RIFT, but one has to stop somewhere, and some things are better experienced. I’m planning on doing an MMO Co-Opportunities on RIFT for either March or April, so look forward to that. In the meantime, Trion supplied me with a video focused on rifts and invasions, so you can check that out below. Rift releases on March 1, 2011 with head-start kicking off February 24, 2011 for those who preordered the game.