Rift: Planes of Telara Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Trion Worlds
Developer:Trion Worlds
Release Date:2011-03-01
Genre:
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
I have a World of Warcraft account, play EverQuest II with my wife, and though I'm sure it will have its growing pains, I haven't been this excited about a new MMORPG for a long while. But why Rift? Why would I want to sign up for another fantasy MMORPG when it admittedly feels so familiar and WoW-like in its play? The reasons are actually surprisingly clear - and fourfold.

A New World

Rift's new world features a brand new beautiful, seemingly fully fleshed out experience to explore - and by beautiful I mean stunningly vibrant and continually interesting. There's typically plenty of fireworks going on in the background whether Rifts or faction assaults, lush (explorable) vistas stretching vast distances everywhere you look, and varied terrain: rolling fields, scorched earth, impressive architecture, realistic and swimmable water, huge bridges, dense flora, etcetera, etcetera. It's graphic euphoria, especially if you have a powerful enough computer. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has some impressive scenery as well, but it's done in a style that isn't quite as pretty as this in my humble opinion. It's like they took WoW's vibrant palette and pixelated that scenery into lots more realistic yet still fairy-tale-like imagery.

A Day in the Life of an Explorer

Well before I was able, mainly because (exploring) is my preferred play style (i.e., traveling everywhere I can and just experiencing the content), I attempted to cross into two adjoining zones (no loading between zones in Rift). One was full of gigantic mountain-like wind swept mesas but was inaccessible to my dismay. So I went back to the other end of the zone and was able to cross into a formidable and ominous dark valley with level 20+ creatures (me being 14 at the time). These included literal hulking giants that happened to catch me once and two-shotted me to death. Seriously, two shots? C'mon giants, that the best you can do? A quick soul-walk later (which is a 1 hour cooldown special death ability that lets you walk away for a brief time and automatically respawn nearby) and I was out of one danger and in the midst of others.

I managed to successfully weave my way through more giants, flying creatures, and rhino-like beasts until I came to a small town at the edge of a pool with 3 gigantic waterfalls spilling into it. Fortunately it had a portal (kind of like a flight path in WoW but instant) which was able to take me back to safety. The beta was ending in the morning and I still hadn't yet tried the other main faction.

Polished Interface

Though I'm sure it has its quirks and yet-to-be-finished areas, having spent several immersive hours over four days has led me to believe this is one highly polished and in general, functional game. It's got fantastic things like smart inventory management, easy interface layout options, a brand new (to me) area-of-effect looting system where if other lootable corpses are in the area and you loot one, you loot them all, consistent iconography, intuitive map and quest journal integration, and super smooth and slick in-game notifications. We're talking normally mundane things that say (Quest Accepted / Completed) or (Level Up) are prettied up and a pleasure to see each time. It's all presented in a very polished way.

If you've played WoW or any other MMO, you'll likely feel right at home with the controls and options. This is not a bad thing at all as it can only shift down the learning curve.