You Gotta Love an MMO with a Vortex...


Okay, so they call them "rifts." They make for an interesting play dynamic, creating a dynamic section almost like a pocket universe, that acts as an instance but is never separated from the main game. Others can join you as you are fighting in a rift but, from inside of the rift, everything appears to have been corrupted by the rift, including the sky for as far as the eye can see. From the outside of the rift, however, it appears the corruption is limited to the inside.

As the backstory explains, these rifts are the physical manifestations of primative gods attempting to rip Telara apart. In the process of assaulting Telara, countless millions have been killed. Luckily for some, the stream of souls leaving Telara came close enough to a spirit world that some have managed to establish a base and are mounting a defensive operation to protect Telara and banish these primative gods. When these rifts appear, they begin to mutate the landscape at that spot. If left unchecked, that area becomes permanently scarred and mutated and brings Telara closer to destruction. It's up to you and your online friends to enter the rifts and fight the forces that are trying to destroy the planet. Even if you succeed, the area will remain scarred and infected for a while, eventually returning back to normal.

The first level takes place in this spirit base and, from there, you can view Telara, as the magic that protects it and holds it together is strained to near collapse by the gods. You can actually see Regulos, the god of death (and devourer of worlds, Esquire), with countless purple tenacles, trying to rip Telara apart by sheer will and brute force, all the while the stream of lost souls streams past, resembling northern lights. Now, perhaps my presentation was tailored to show off the graphics a bit, seeing that the person showing me the game was Brian Clarke, the Lead Environment Artist on the game, but the graphics were, quite frankly, gorgeous.

The Class System had some interesting twists to it that could lead to some cool gameplay. First of all, sure you'll see the standard classes you'd see elsewhere, such as Warrior, Cleric, Rogue and Mage, but as your character gains experience and develops further, you specialize further into specialty classes that excel in certain types of gameplay or blend between two different classes. As you progress, you will gain more and more Soul Attunement, which allows you to commune with and embrace the souls of other fallen heroes - with their own classes and skills. As you add these souls to yours, you gain their powers and abilities. This makes for an interesting character-customization mechanic. You can collect various souls and gain access to what they refer to as a "Soul Tree," which lets you mix and match the gained abilities. As you advance, you progress through ability chains on the top (branches) of the tree. As you do this, you gain levels. These levels automatically unlock new abilities that all players would have access to as they reach that level. As your character grows in power, he gains the ability to possess up to three souls, to switch between them on the fly, using the skill-set that is most beneficial to the task at hand.

The idea behind Rift: Planes of Telara is that the world is dynamic. A great deal of attention has been put into the concept of "Random Encounters," making them into something that makes the game great, rather than mindless filler used to level before continuing on your quest, as they sometimes feel like in other games.

Rift: Planes of Telara looks very interesting and I can see spending way too much time fighting against Regulos' hordes in my near future... Look for Rift: Planes of Telara some time in 2011. Want to make sure you don't miss it? Sign-up to receive the Rift Watch community newsletter here.

Rift: Planes of Telara
Trion Worlds