RIFT's first expansion, Storm Legion, promises more of the same quality and quantity of content that we've come to expect from Trion Worlds. Among the additions are two new continents, a new hub for both factions, expanded crafting systems, and a raised level cap (to level 60). Additionally, four new souls will be introduced to the game, of which only one has so far been announced: the Harbinger. The Harbinger essentially works as the archetypical battlemage. Summoning various magical weapons with various abilities providing passive and active bonuses, Harbingers take the fight to the enemy with melee attacks and powerful magic.
But the Harbinger's arsenal has more than just magic. "For the Harbinger to successfully melee an enemy, we have given the soul powerful positional abilities," Will Cook, RIFT's senior game designer, explained. "One of the major strengths of the Harbinger is the ability to flicker in and out of combat." This flickering, as Cook showed us, is used to both close with and gain distance from enemies. To fully use the Harbinger's powers, players will need to utilize these positional abilities intelligently. At higher levels, the Harbinger even gains stealth to jump in or jump away. These abilities trademark the Harbinger's fighting style as a melee DPS soul.
Another cool new feature that Will showed off certainly demands some attention: dimensions. Dimensions function as personal housing instances within the world -- they're real estate. A players can build her homes in a dimension, fill it with all kinds of ornaments found along her adventures, and eventually show it off to friends. Decorating these dimensions piqued our interest right away. Cook told us, "We wanted to give players powerful tools to customize their dimensions so that they could create something truly unique. We simply thought, why not give them ours?" What we saw was, according to Cook, a rough, unfinished version, but it's the essence of the team's vision. Players can rotate objects, drag and lift them, and even scale them up or down as needed. Limitless variations will be possible because of the unrestrictive toolkit used.
So how about PvP in these dimensions? "It certainly is something we are thinking about but currently haven't implemented," Cook said. "The first thing we want to get right is that the customization tools are working properly and can be used effortlessly."
Finally, we were shown a high-level boss encounter featuring a mountain-sized colossus. This, too, is something we've seen before many times, but this particular one had some nifty tricks up his sleeve. Said Cook, "As players fight him, he makes his way through the area, destroying anything and anyone in sight. At one point, he'll arrive at a walled off area and break down the barriers, enabling players to explore new and previously unavailable content within." It's a heavily scripted event, though players seem to have some impact as to how to bring this colossus down. "We didn't want players to stand at his feet and carve away at his toes," Cook clarified. "You'll be able to target and destroy several individual parts of his body to a variety of effects. We certainly want it to be a dynamic fight."
The playable portion of the demo allowed us to pick up a shotgun and run around in one of the PvP maps. We were told this was a very early pre-alpha build and that the PvP portion of the game is still under heavy construction. Despite this bit of information, running around shooting people instantly felt smooth and rewarding. There were no classes to choose from, only pre-made builds, so fans of customization should feel right at home. All weapons have primary and secondary attacks, which vary tremendously in effect. One of the guns caused the enemy to grow enormous when hit as puss filled boils on his body. The puss that oozed out attracted a number of little critters that did damage over time -- creative, but also a lot of fun to witness (though less so for sufferers).
Although playing the PvP map immediately reminded us of a lobby-based shooter, Defiance promises to have fully fleshed out MMO features. It will feature a seamless, persistent world with missions, factions, and (of course) world events. There will be a huge emphasis on story (obviously), and NPC interactions and story presentation will be heard in full voice-over. Defiance is still in the early stages of development, so it remains to be seen whether and how these promises will eventually be fulfilled. Until then, the unique TV/game synergy should create enough waves to keep this one on the radar for some time to come.
Every summer, the gaming industry descends on Cologne, Germany, for Gamescom, the world's largest trade fair for interactive games and entertainment. Massively's on the scene in 2012, bringing you all the best scoops, impressions, and interviews from the MMOs at the show!