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Game of the Year 2011: #21 – RIFT

Win one of five copies of RIFT
Read our original review

2011 was meant to be the year of big MMO releases, RIFT, GuildWars 2, TERA and Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) to name a few. As you know now, Guild Wars 2 is now coming next year and SWTOR won’t be released until 20 December so it’s coming out too late to evaluate for the purpose of these awards.
Back in March however, after a lengthy Beta test, TRION unleashed RIFT to the world touting it as a dynamic game world where anything could happen thanks to the feature of Rifts which would spawn across the world of Telara flooding it with enemies. For anyone who took part in the Beta test, it was incredibly exciting to be part of a constantly changing world where players could work together, this got players hooked early on.

RIFT was also one of the few MMOs that launched with relatively few problems, the servers went live and everyone jumped it, even though the queues were a little lengthy in the first week. However, TRION responded to the community quickly and fired up servers left right and centre to make sure potential recruits would have as smooth an MMO experience as possible.
So confident were TRION in their product that their marketing campaign directly focused on World of Warcraft players with adverts reading ‘You’re not in Azeroth any More’ . As expected, this riled up the World of Warcraft fanboys but it did the trick. World of Warcraft players did indeed move over to RIFT, and according to TRION, they managed to lure away 600.000 players from World of Warcraft.

So why did this MMO succeed where others failed? TRION got the game mechanics just right, there’s no doubt the actual gameplay mimics what has come before, but the TRION team realised they needed to create a game that was highly polished so anyone who may have been expecting massive innovations in the genre would not be disappointed.  We can safely say that RIFT is one of the most polished MMOs ever to come to market.
RIFT players are also pulled into the story very quickly and the leveling flow is pretty fast. When the game launched, TRION knew that in order to keep players hooked they needed palyers feel like they were earning rewards quickly to get them past level 10, a point where a lot if MMO players would put a game down. In RIFT the story progresses quickly as the Defiant and Guardians fight over territory and at the same time try and put a stop to the evil Regulos. It’s this fast progression that keeps the story flowing .
Within the first two months of the game launching TRION were already working to a tight content schedule, the plan for RIFT has been to keep the content updates coming, after all, a vast quantity of players had reached max level 50 within a matter of weeks. The constant updates to RIFT has kept RIFT fans involved in the game’s lore, and along with constant tweaks to the crafting system and Rift rewards through special events, when a new patch is revealed the community tends to get rather excited.

TRION is constantly looking at ways to add new features to the game, especially for the end-game. Since launch we have seen Rift chronicles being added for two man dungeon  groups, the Master Dungeon modes, Slithers, World Events and the recent opening of the Ember Isle Zone to name a few.
While the World Events got off to a shaky start early on with some awkward event timing mishaps,  TRION learned from their mistakes quickly and now we see constant hotfixes and a continual flow of new content. All these elements are ingredients to making an MMO that subscribers will continue to play.
So was RIFT the best MMO of 2011? Without a doubt, which is why it makes our top games list of 2011. If you have not tried it yet, we suggest you do (Win one of five copies of RIFT), you should thoroughly enjoy the experience and TRION are always offering great subscription deals.
Trion’s Scott Hartsman also sent along this rather nice message for everyone:
“Hey IncGamers, thanks a lot for naming RIFT as one of your top games of the year! It’s quite an honor, and something we definitely wouldn’t have achieved without our extremely active and dedicated player base in the UK. Seriously, you guys are the best. Thanks to your ongoing passion the world of Telara has improved exponentially over the past nine months.  The whole team here at Trion is hard at work creating some absolutely amazing things for 2012. Thanks again, and stay tuned!”  

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