RIFT: Storm Legion Review
RIFT: Storm Legion Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Trion Worlds
Pub: Trion Worlds
Release: November 13, 2012
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Violence
Telara’s New Threat
by Robert VerBruggen

RIFT might not have become the World of Warcraft killer some hoped it would be, probably because it hews so closely to the line established by MMO genre’s leader. You can think of RIFT as a well-made WoW clone with highly customizable characters, portals that open and leak enemies at random, and a more serious tone. But RIFT has certainly built a name for itself in the top tier of the genre. The team at Trion has done an incredible job of presenting a polished product and then expanding it. And expanding it. And expanding it.

In fact, the basic game received eleven significant updates, ensuring that players always got new content for their $15 a month without having to buy an official expansion. And now, Storm Legion, the first traditional expansion, offers a whole lot for a price tag of $40 for existing players. (Newcomers pay $50 and get the original game as well.)

RIFT: Storm Legion Screenshot

If more RIFT is what you want, you're going to get it. The level cap has been raised from 50 to 60, and each new level takes hours of work. That's a whole lot of questing, dungeons, raids, and PvP for each character you want to take to the new cap. Once you've hit level 60, there's new endgame content as well. And presumably, Trion will have more updates handy by the time you're done with all that.

The list of improvements is long, as it tends to be when MMO expansions are at issue. There are seven new dungeons, three new raids, a Chronicle, "Grandmaster" crafting, capes to wear, and new mounts and pets. And, as if there weren't enough character customization options already, there are also four new souls to choose from. Mages can now play as Harbingers, which gives them the ability to deal and take damage at close range. Warriors may choose the Tempest soul, which helps them excel at long-range combat. Clerics get the Defiler soul, which helps them heal allies, intercept damage, and hurt enemies at range. And Rogues get access to Tactician, a soul that helps them heal—and hurt—lots of players quickly.

Most exciting of all, though, is that Trion has added two huge new continents, more than tripling the game's land mass. A level 50 player can work through either continent first; both contain areas that start at a level 50 difficulty and progress from there. The story here is that an evil (and lightly clothed) woman named Crucia threatens the world with her Storm Legion forces.

RIFT: Storm Legion Screenshot

Of the new continents, Dusken is the more interesting. Very few things separate RIFT from World of Warcraft, but two of those things are RIFT's darker vibe and its better graphics—and both of those are on display in Dusken. The continent is dark and stormy, with ominous architecture breaking up some haunting displays of nature. Dusken is an impressive sight, and very few video games manage to evoke a mood so well.

That's not to say that Brevane isn't worth exploring. It's a more traditional fantasy setting, brimming with life, with beautiful forests and some swampy areas crawling with beasts.

There's also a new island that's home to Tempest Bay, a city that's open to all players, Guardian and Defiant alike. This island is home to its own quest lines, and it's sure to become a major hangout for high-level players.

RIFT: Storm Legion Screenshot

One thing I can't really stress enough, though, is that these are only cosmetic changes. The questing is exactly what you've come to expect from World of Warcraft and its imitators: Kill some of this enemy, go talk to that guy, collect this item, repel a random invasion from time to time. This may be enough to satisfy RIFT's existing fans, but a newcomer to the genre will struggle to find a reason to sign up for RIFT—anyone who wants the gameplay of World of Warcraft can get that with World of Warcraft itself, and anyone looking for innovation will find a lot more of it in TERA, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, and so on.

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