Preview: Rift: Planes of Telara Makes MMOGs Dynamic (and Gorgeous)

John Funk | 26 Apr 2010 21:41
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The moment a rift spawns and word gets out, it could become an instant hotspot for PvE and PvP alike - and yes, there will be PvP between the more lawful Guardians and more chaotic Defiants, naturally. The two factions could cooperate to seal the rift and get loot for all... but then again, why help your enemy gear up? Why not sabotage their attempt?

In addition to the more dynamic rift-centric gameplay, Planes of Telara will also feature your standard MMORPG content - instanced dungeons for smaller groups of 5 and for 10-man and 20-man raids alike. We saw one particular dungeon that took adventurers through the four seasons as they descended further into its depths, from spring to summer to autumn to winter - it reminded me of Click Clock Wood in Banjo-Kazooie, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that.

One area that might just help Rift: Planes of Telara stick out from the crowd at first, though, is the strength of its graphics. While it might not be the first "truly HD MMORPG" as Trion is claiming, Rift is a visually stunning game - even a year (or more) away from release, they already have over 10,000 character and NPC animations with more created every day, said Ffinch. The lighting effects are phenomenal in particular, and it arguably looks better (if not quite as stylized) as NCSoft's eye-candy-tastic Aion.

Not only does the world look cool, but your character should look cool too: We saw a bit of the character creator, and it's clear that Trion has taken great pains to ensure that your character will look like an actual person instead of a freak of nature no matter how you position the little slidy-bars. "It's very hard to make something ugly in the game," said Ffinch.

One of the most interesting innovations in Rift might be something that players won't ever see. Rather than having "location-based" servers - where a given server represents a given city or dungeon, and gets overloaded if too many people are in that area - the game divides its servers into systems. You have an AI server, a chat server, a collision-detection server, and so on - which means that it's easy to add blades to struggling clusters without taking an area offline.

Thus far, Rift: Planes of Telara looks like something that's very familiar but with a few refreshing twists - and that seems to be the point. The game is currently slated to come out sometime in 2011.

Check out more of Rift: Planes of Telara at the official site.

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