ZAM's Hands-On Look at Rift: Planes of Telara

To coincide with Trion Worlds' announcement that Rift will enter closed beta on Dec. 3, Editor-in-Chief Darryl Gangloff shares his experiences with the fantasy MMO from Trion's recent Gamer Day.

Trion Worlds just announced that the first closed beta event for Rift: Planes of Telara will be held the weekend of Dec. 3-6, which makes it the perfect time to share my hands-on experiences with the fantasy MMO at last week's Gamer Day event. Trion invited a group of journalists and fans to its Redwood City, CA office to try out the alpha build, and it turns out the team has made numerous improvements to the game in preparation for the closed beta launch. One of the most noteworthy changes is the addition of completely revamped starting areas for the Guardians and Defiant, which beta testers will be able to see for themselves in a couple weeks.

Let me back up a bit in case you're unfamiliar with the game. The Ward that protects Telara from other planes of reality has weakened, and mysterious rifts are breaking through to wreak havoc in the world. Whenever a rift appears (like an air rift from the Plane of Air, for example), it creates an event that dynamically changes as players interact with it. Telara is being torn apart by these rifts, and both the Guardians and Defiant wish to save the world. Of course, each faction holds different beliefs, so they end up fighting with each other as they try to keep the end of days from becoming a reality.

That's just the tiniest sliver of the intricate lore found in Rift: Planes of Telara, but it's a good starting point. Stop the end of the world. I can handle that. Now let's dive into those new beginning zones!

The Guardians

I decided to start my day as a Guardian, and my first order of business was to select a race. I had three choices: Mathosian (the humans of the bunch), High Elf and Dwarf. I decided to embrace the fantasy setting and went with the elf. It is worth mentioning that each race comes with racial abilities, like the High Elf's increased MP/energy regeneration. Next up was my calling: Warrior, Mage, Cleric or Rogue. I always tend to lean toward casters, so I picked Mage and headed over to the character creation screen.

The customization options are plentiful. You can change everything from your facial features and hair to your height and markings. As an elf, I could even resize my character's ears, which is a nice touch. I decided to make them as big as possible and then randomized a name to see what the generator would suggest. That's how Killan, the Guardian High Elf Mage, was born.

In Rift, you play as one of the Ascended. Your character has been resurrected to fight the forces of Regulos, the dragon god of extinction. In the case of the Guardians, you've been brought back to life by the Vigil, the five gods who created Telara. This faction is all about honor and devotion to the Vigil, so the starting zone truly has a fantasy vibe to it.

When you first start your adventure, you're going to need to pick your first soul. The Soul Attunement system is one of the major features that sets Rift apart from other fantasy MMOs. Each calling has access to a variety of different souls, which can be mixed and matched to create unique combinations that can be changed regularly. As you level up, you'll ultimately be able to attune up to three souls at a time.

Sound confusing? It may seem a little daunting at first, but Trion actually did a great job adding a soul tutorial system to the new starting zones. My Mage had to talk with NPCs to learn more about my first three soul possibilities: Elementalist, Pyromancer or Warlock. Basically, I could choose one of those paths to have access to specific spells and abilities. I went with Elementalist and discovered that I could summon an Earth Elemental combat pet right from the start. Looks like I made a good choice!

As you level up, you'll gain soul points that allow you to strengthen your abilities. The system is similar to World of Warcraft's talent trees, but with an important difference: you learn new spells and abilities by going deeper into a specific soul tree. If I want access to more Elementalist spells, I'm going to need to add more soul points to my Elementalist tree. Of course, the other main distinction from WoW is that players in Rift can add or remove specific soul trees as they gain access to new souls.

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True Gem :D
# Dec 03 2010 at 11:09 AM Rating: Decent
Simply awesome, Im hoping this may be the MMO we have all been waiting for! Keep it up ZAM.
looking good...
# Nov 30 2010 at 9:30 AM Rating: Decent
45 posts
A lot of this game's features look great. I'm just hoping that the experience is immersive from the get-go. I've played enough tutorials over the years to want to be introduced to the game in a dramatic way that shows me how to use my abilities and the UI, etc., without making me feel like I'm in preschool. Here's hopin'...
# Nov 25 2010 at 11:31 PM Rating: Decent
182 posts
As others have said nice bit of info Zam and wow everything i read about Rift makes me want the game more and more.
Very cool
# Nov 23 2010 at 10:28 PM Rating: Decent
100 posts
Pretty cool info Zam. Keep it coming and pumping up the excitement.
# Nov 23 2010 at 9:01 AM Rating: Decent
I am definately seeing bits and pieces of the good parts of multiple games in RIFT. I can't wait until this is available! I will definately be purchasing this game. The graphics are awesome, but what I am way excited to try out is the soul builds.
# Nov 22 2010 at 11:44 PM Rating: Decent
the graphics are sweet. the class system is awesome. the gameplay as seen on youtube posts is compelling. so when can i play already!?!?...............please :-)
# Nov 22 2010 at 8:52 PM Rating: Decent
I can't wait for this game! Looks awesome.
# Nov 22 2010 at 8:12 PM Rating: Decent
I think RIFT seems to be way better than both of those games, and I guess ugly parents do have beautiful kids... so I guess I agree.

However, it's totally different. I hope it's one of those rebellious children. >:D
# Nov 22 2010 at 7:54 PM Rating: Decent
this game just look awesome the graphics are gorgeous, i thinks this look better that wow, but well its just my opinion im sick and tired of wow XD
# Nov 22 2010 at 7:03 PM Rating: Decent
Indeed, once I heard about the gaming appealing to Everquest fans, it caught my attention fast :)
trash mobs = yuck
# Nov 22 2010 at 6:12 PM Rating: Decent
Very promising to hear that the mobs you encountered in the dungeon weren't necessarily "trash"....ugh...that whole concept gets really old fast. I am really looking forward to challenges en route to bosses...not just fluff.
Gamer Day
# Nov 19 2010 at 11:07 PM Rating: Decent
73 posts
That play day was a blast. The write up makes me miss it. Can't wait for the 3rd to get back into action. Hope to see you there.
see words below
# Nov 18 2010 at 3:29 PM Rating: Decent
37 posts
the more I hear about this game the more it sounds to me like WoW had a baby with Everquest-- which would be ******* AWESOME!
see words below
# Nov 18 2010 at 3:55 PM Rating: Excellent
295 posts
Dugahst wrote:
the more I hear about this game the more it sounds to me like WoW had a baby with Everquest-- which would be @#%^ING AWESOME!

That's honestly a good way of putting it.
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