Rift Review

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I have never met the guys that developed Rift, but I'm willing to bet that they're sort of a timid bunch – perfectly nice and polite, I'd wager, and easy to get a long with, and not the sort of dudes who'll grab you by the neck and make you pay attention to them.  I'm judging this, of course, by looking at their Facebook profiles.

Not really.

I'm judging this by the game they developed – Rift, obviously.  This game came out with a significant amount of fanfare and hoopla, a name change, and a very aggressive marketing campaign.  I was intrigued.  It promised a change! We weren't in Azeroth anymore.  Things were going to be different.

The truth is, though, that Rift is a game which rests firmly in the shadow of World of Warcraft and its legacy.  The team at Trion brings little to the table here that is really fresh or innovative.  It's a smorgasbord, essentially; some kind of weird MMORPG potluck.  They picked out the parts they thought were totally awesome from earlier entries in the genre, put a fresh coat of paint on, and stuck 'em all together. 


"I guess you could call it “inoffensive."

That isn't to say, though, that Rift is a bad a game.  It's not bad, but it isn't really good.  I guess you could call it “inoffensive.  It's not going to ignite your imagination or redefine the MMO experience, but it sure as hell will give you an easy, painless way to kill three or four hours at a time.  Trion has manufactured one of the slickest, most accessible MMORPGs to date – but in doing so, they created something that is also highly derivative.  That is a crime that gamers should not easily forgive.

Is it pretty?  Absolutely.  Even on my measly laptop, the game runs smoothly and looks pleasing enough.  Cranked up and on a higher-end machine, it looks great.  The art direction isn't exactly Picasso, but it is somewhat distinctive.  The moody, down-trodden nature of the game world is communicated well through the art-style, even if it only veers a few blocks away from the typical high-fantasy neighborhood.  The developers did a good job of letting your character actually look good and wear cool things – we all  know how crucial this is in an MMO.  The monster design is more standard fare, but the bosses do a good job of being real big and scary.  What more can you ask? The sound is serviceable – the battle music blares riotously when you engage any enemy, but it won't be stuck in your head anytime soon.  The towns feature some pleasantly relaxing tunes, and the obligatory clashing swords and guttural yells all communicate the appropriate sense of bloodshed.  

Apparently, this game has a story.  It's there, somewhere, hidden within walls of texts and sporadic cutscenes.  As with most MMORPGs, the story isn't really center stage or all that interesting.  Rift's narrative has a lot of cool, arcane sounding words and some good voice acting, but it lacks any kind of emotion or real intrigue.  It provides a serviceable explanation of who you are and what you're doing, but it never really tells why you should care.  It is also really convoluted and labyrinthine – if you get lost, it can be hard to catch up.  You probably won't have much motivation to follow it regardless. 

The art direction and the plot are both satisfactory – I'm not one to ask for every new game to totally reinvent the wheel, and it certainly doesn't, but Rift has enough flair to give it a distinctive kind of flavor.  The actual gameplay is where the game really starts to become another nameless and faceless MMORPG.  If you've ever played a game like WoW or Lord of the Rings Online before, then ostensibly you have played Rift.  It does little to differentiate itself from the competition.  You know, auto-attacks and hotbar pounding.  We've all been there before.  It's proficient, certainly, and altogether combat and moving around Telara are fun and decently rewarding – but it has all been done before in a lot of places – even, I don't know, Azeroth.


"The class system does provide some kind of freshness."

The class system does provide some kind of freshness.  At the onset, the player chooses what “calling” he is going to play as: rogue, warrior, cleric, and mage.  Each of these callings has a large number of classes beneath – rogue has things like “blade dancer” and “rift stalker”; warrior has ones like “paladin” and “void knight.  The player is then able to basically mix and match these classes via equipping three of them at a time.  The “souls,” as they are called, are able to be switched in and out and tweaked fairly painlessly, allowing for a large amount of customization and creativity.  This system is the best and most interesting part of the game, and it is one that offers a lot of depth – and, as a result, a lot of personal satisfaction for the player. 

The titular rifts are good fun, too.  For the uninitiated, occasionally, as you go about your business in Telara, a giant hole in the planar fabric of the multiverse will pop open and a bunch of really angry dudes will come pouring out.  It's up to the players, then, to bond together and repel these insurgents.  This mechanic is an excellent way to gain experience and loot, and it is also really smooth.  Finding rifts and quickly joining parties to close them could not be easier.  Trion deserves praise for making this kind of more organic, less structured gameplay fun and accessible.  If you've played Warhammer, you know that the public quests in that game were fun but not always the best experience – the rifts in Rift are that concept perfected.  The one complaint against the rift system is that it is kind of meaningless – the Rifts open and close without any real implications.  Eventually, it becomes just another grind.

Rift's realm-versus-realm-centric player-versus-player isn't something I experienced very fully in my time with the game, but it seems up to snuff.  It's fast and actually kind of brutal (read: I got pwned) – and it's easy to get to.  Hopping into battle is streamlined and available early on.  I haven't done much of the more open-world kind of battling, but it is there, and seems to be pretty popular.  It is worth noting here that PvP in Rift also awards experience points and loot, keeping in-line with Trion's “reward everything” mantra.


I have trouble calling Rift a real genre standout or an important game.  I would love to be able to look at this game as a bookend, a signifier of the end of the WoW era.  It recycles a great deal of the systems and mechanics of its predecessors, only with a little spicing up and a shiny coat of paint.  It, in fact, improves on a lot of stuff other games are doing.  The problem here is that the MMORPG world is getting really crowded and simply buffing up old ideas isn't enough to warrant an exceptional game anymore.  I like Rift, and it is a good way to spend your evening – it won't make you too mad or even ask that much of you – but it just doesn't do enough innovating to demand high praise. 

The game is receiving a steady diet of updates and patches.  Maybe, if Trion decides to get a little ballsy, it could grow into something special.  The framework is there and the game has a strong set of core fundamentals.  In time, the developers may decide that they have to try something new, something to break the mold and give Rift a more unique personality.  Until then, though, the game will have a tough time cementing itself as an MMORPG landmark.  It's a hard fact to admit, but MMORPGs are facing a dilemma: the genre that once showed such promise is becoming tired and hackneyed.  Rift is a good game but also a perfect example of this problem – and here's to hoping that it either grows into an answer to that plight or a marker for the end of an era.

Gameplay: 7

Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Value: 6


9 Responses to Rift Review

  1. Raies says:

    I respect your opinion, but I disagree with it as well. I think Rift is better then WoW, if that is what you want to compare it too. It has a whole different feel to it once you level through the game. If people would give it a chance, and give WoW up for a while they would see. Sadly, that will never happen.

  2. Chuckle says:

    WoW has become stale to a lot of us who have been playing it for a long time.
    The classes in WoW have become so similar now, my shadow priest has lost all the reasons I rolled one. It the same for all caster damage dealers in WoW, same spells just different colors. Same for the Melee classes.

    You cannot talent into a spec that has something different anymore, its all the same. Fire mage takes the same talents as every other fire mage, same goes for all classes. Its just a boring blur now.

    Sure it’s new expansion was fun at the start, but having cleared everything up to Sinestra on HC now, I have totally lost any appeal to play WoW.

    I have been watching Rift, and it seems like when my subscription to WoW ends this month, I will be giving Rift a shot for sure.

    Would be nice if they had a 10 day trial, but I guess that will come when they have the game settled in a bit.

  3. Khazaad says:

    Did you actually play this game or just take bricks of other reviews and cement them together with ancient WoW comparisons?

    Everyone loves WoW. Why? Because it’s an extraordinary game and it’s mark on the MMORPG world has been pivotal. It’s inarguable that every new MMO will have to face the reckoning of WoW’s legacy but why does every two-bit reviewer have a hard time getting beyond that?

    If a game isn’t a “WoW killer” it is destined for some harsh criticism. Seeing how nothing has really slain WoW, you reviewers come across as borish and just as unoriginal as the games you critique.

    If a game is simply as good as WoW, it’s considered a flop or according to your review, mediocre. This is promotes vicious scrutiny for a game like Rift. The substantial evolutions like character class customization, rift events, and expanded play style are immediately obscured by this lazy comparison.

    I understand that you’re not a developer but for someone who is supposed to have credibility you are totally barren on ideas that might serve the genre better.

  4. Bjorn says:

    @Khazaad: Coming up with new ideas for games isn’t our responsibility. Would you even really want this? Allowing a few people to completely steer a genre, versus the gaming community at large, sounds like a bad idea to me. Sure, we’ll make suggestions in some articles and if we can inspire developers or help them interpret the community’s general reaction to a game that’s great, but a reviewer’s main purpose is to make a purchase recommendation or not.

  5. Trolo says:


    No, I believe the author pretty accurately sums up my thoughts. I have played WoW since just a few months after release. I played in the Rift beta and played the game for a little while. Rift doesn’t seem to provide anything exciting. After going on hiatus from WoW multiple times, I found myself wanting to come back a month or less later. After quitting Rift, my thoughts are simply “Oh yeah, Rift.” It’s not a bad game: it’s done quite well really, but it doesn’t provide anything that makes me particularly excited to get on and play. Once I’m playing I’ll enjoy it, but it just doesn’t go all the way.

  6. playa says:

    I haven’t got attached to a game in a while.

    I tried out the 7 day free trial, and purchased it after it was over.

    This game is GREAT. It just feels right. The combat system has a rhythmic technique to it where it feels like a mini-game on it owns. Very fun.

    I recommend at least trying this game.

    From what I’ve played in the 7 day trial. I’d say it deserves at least a 8.5

  7. Yinello says:

    I tried to like RIFT, I really did. I wanted it to be that MMO that would finally take me away from WoW. But every step I took just made me feel like I was in WoW, just with different names and different textures. Like the author said, it’s not a bad MMO but it doesn’t capture me, kidnap me and hold me in its own fantasy world.

    The thing that bothers me the most are the quests. It’s the generic kill 10 this, collect 10 that. Horrible grinding quests. WoW’s expansion of Cataclysm did that so much better by adding quests that required you to fly airplanes, throw bombs on things, use stealth potions to disable bombs, rescue people from the inside of a monster’s stomach, etc. etc. Had Rift actually stolen that part (part being interesting quests) of WoW, I think I would’ve purchased the game instantly. Quests are the biggest part of the game, so why not give that the most attention? The class system is fun and all but what’s the point of summoning fairies and wielding a big hammer and shooting lightning when all you’re doing is killing 10 humanoids?

    It’s a bit of a shame that the quests suck because I love the races, the customisation, the story, the clothes and the world. I understand it’s a little unfair towards Trion to demand full innovation because I am a veteran and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But I’ve become tired of killing 10 goblins/wolves/spiders/whatnot.

  8. Fritstellla says:

    It’s a fine game. While World Of Warcraft is immersive, simple, and softly dot-to-dot, it easily lines up at number one for the majority of MMORPG player’s list of favorites. World of Warcraft holds as number one in the gaming world, and it’s only sin seems to be the community and developers. Having played it since it’s closed beta, I’m disappointed in its lack of effort in part of keeping up with the graphics. The newer races and zones looks five times better than the older races and zones. With a sad hope, I was praying Cataclysm would update this. I was pretty disappointed at it’s now patchwork appearance; like an ugly, old linen teddy bear with it’s holes patched up by shiny velveteen patches.

    Rift gives a well-formed, unified feeling that is lacking in some of the more legendary MMOs, simply for the fact that the game was re-released, re-named, and furthermore, updated. While the game play was fun and exciting the first week, I found myself fallen into a repetitive loop. The Rifts at first were elating, but as you came across them more and more often, well… You got tired of it. Pleasingly, Rift has a unified, formal feeling to it. However, I agree with the author of this article — It just doesn’t pull you in and entrap you with excitement and the curiosity of “Ooh, I wonder what is next?”

    “We’re not in Azeroth anymore.” With advertising like this and rumors as it was, people expected a great getaway from World of Warcraft in this game. Some found it, most didn’t. I unfortunately, was one of the ‘most’.

  9. Psyway says:

    wow is immersive?you serious,wow is a joke

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Rift Boxart


  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Publisher: Trion Worlds
  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Release Date: February 28, 2011
  • Link: The Official Site
  • ESRB Rating:

Minimum Requirements

• Win XP/Vista/7
• Dual Core 2.0GHz CPU
• 8GB HDD Space
• Nvidia GeForce FX 5900, ATI/AMD Radeon X300, Intel GMA X4500
• DirectX 8.1 compliant sound card
• DirectX: 9.0c
• Broadband internet connection

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