There is a lot of promise in the upcoming list of MMOs

So little known, so much promised and even more hoped for – that perhaps sums up the thoughts surrounding the next generation of MMOs, and certainly pertains to Trion Worlds title Rift: Planes of Telara (formerly known as Heroes of Telara).

Trion Worlds hosted an event in San Francisco recently and the games featured were certainly compelling – in concept. But so many MMOs have promised a lot and delivered a little – which can lead to a bit of skepticism creeping in.

With Rift, which is in Alpha testing now, it seems the dev team is on the right track, and the game is certainly visually compelling. No hands-on, but guided tours and a lot of talk about the game.

So here is what is known so far:

The game will feature six races and eight starter classes, but players will have the flexibility to create the classes they wish because the class system is robust and diverse. There are two main factions – the Guardians (chosen of the gods and steadfast defenders) and the Defiants (more of an arcane power group that has embraced the power of the Rifts but still don’t want them open).

The Rifts, in case you missed the previous story, are the key to the game and because of a tear in the protective ward, the Rifts open and let in monsters from different planes as invasion forces into the world of Telara. It is a dynamic content-driven game. And there will be a level cap of 50.

The world promises to be fully streaming and the instances are all handcrafted. The one instance shown in the demo boasted four distinctive looks. There are group and private instances and they have been created for players of all levels, so from the beginning players will feel involved with the game.

“Everything people expect from a core MMO is here,” a developer stated, adding that there were other elements that would come as a pleasant surprise and go beyond the common ground tread by most games.

What was not discussed involved mounts, housing, the crafting system and death penalties.

Still the game seems centered on the social dynamic and players can join forces with others easily to dispel invading armies that will come through the rifts in stages (some of the events will have up to 10 stages).

Oh, and the death animations on the NPCs were really quite clever.

Most of the time spent watching the living, breathing world was as a third party in a carefully guided tour of one area. But if the developers live up to what was promised, then Rift is going to herald in a new age of MMOs and take players on a socially dynamic adventure.

It was a brief visit with the title, but Trion Worlds promised that many more details would be revealed in a couple of months in Los Angeles during E3.

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Michael Lafferty
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