Rift beyond 1.1, "the game will shift in ways that even we cannot predict"

Rift - Undead Dragon

Rift's first patch hits tomorrow and will see a huge demonic invasion threaten the world of Telara. Trion Worlds have just released a new trailer showing some of the huge bosses and endgame environments the patch will add, but what other changes will the invasion bring? We ask Rift's design producer Hal Hanlin a few questions about tomorrow's invasion, and the future of Rift beyond patch 1.1.

PC Gamer: How have you managed to prepare such a huge world event so quickly after release?

Hal Hanlin: One of the most powerful tools we have is our platform. Because our content is served globally by function instead of hardware based on game-geography, we can introduce new content anywhere in the world that we want. The question becomes how much new content is awesome and fun, and at what point does it damage the nature of the game. We will continue to push the boundaries in this area. Our goal is nothing short of proving Trion to be the most nimble and dynamic MMO developer in the AAA market.

PC Gamer: It sounds as though there will be an unprecedented number of rift invasions happening. Can you give us a sense of the scale of the invasion? Will there be Rift every few feet? Enemies everywhere?

Hal Hanlin: Player behaviour will determine how dense the rifts become. As you've seen, Rifts spawn invasions, which establish footholds, which spawn even more invasions... If you start with a bunch, things get tense in a hurry. I won't spoil the events that lead to the opening of the raid themselves, but I will point out that planar types are not constrained by geography, either. Just because Silverwood has been fighting off Fire and Life does not mean that will always be the case.

We also gave ourselves the challenge of making sure that players in every zone in Telara get to participate in the event. Higher-level characters will get to see the actual opening, but players across the world will get credit for helping out.

PC Gamer: How will players access the River of Souls raid, will it be limited to players of a certain level?

Hal Hanlin: The raid itself is for high-level players who have acquired the best gear. The bosses, rifts and Colossi that were part of the opening event will stay in the rotation and increase the variety of enemies players throughout the game will face from rifts.

PC Gamer: Will Ascended only be able to fight Alsbeth in the raid, or will she be wandering the world as well?

Hal Hanlin: The final confrontation with Alsbeth will be in the Raid, but she will be out in each of the zones for a time during the event, too.

PC Gamer: What will Alsbeth be like to fight? What kind of strategies will players have to employ to take her down?

Hal Hanlin: LOL – No chance I am answering that one with spoilers. I will say that the raid itself is laid out in a non-linear way, so part of the challenge is figuring out which bosses to take out in which order.

PC Gamer: Are there plans to add more raids and raid bosses in future?

Hal Hanlin: Oh, my, if you only knew. As I said earlier, our platform lets us add things to the world at an unprecedented rate. We are adding bosses and raids over time, but we are also innovating new gameplay systems and content delivery methods that we will roll out as well. Scott [Hartsman, executive producer] and Russ have the whole design team on this and we are hiring more!

PC Gamer: Will low level players be able to fight back against the Endless Court?

Hal Hanlin: Yes! It is not a token effort, either. Their stand against the Endless is just as valid and necessary as that of the level 50s. Each player who is participating will be rewarded and have access to special vendors, too. This is a game-wide thing, not an end-game thing, though having an awesome new raid in the gear progression is great. We really want to let players understand the story of the Endless and feel like it is their fight from the beginning, not someone else's fight they stumbled into.

PC Gamer: What kind of loot will players be able to get from beating back the invasion?

Hal Hanlin: All of the new invasions have loot on them; new items and equipment. There is a special mount available during the event and another available from the raid itself. Moreover, there will be merchants who are selling additional items in exchange for the currency acquired during the event. We posted some images of the ghost horse mount on www.riftgame.com and that is something I am trying for, myself.

PC Gamer: What advantages will the ability to look undead give to players?

Hal Hanlin: It's a combat shape change, letting you fight enemies while looking like a skeleton. There are no stat changes and you continue to have all of your powers, so we're not stripping from you the role you worked so hard to build.

PC Gamer: Will there be any competitive Guardian vs. Defiant aspect to the invasion?

Hal Hanlin: The events of this opening are not competitive by nature, but we are also not overriding your PVP choice. We are Telarans, first and foremost, so the invasions must be repelled. What we've found is that players tend to work in an uneasy peace while the event is running and immediately turn on each other when it is done. It's awesome. So, if that Vigil-kisser wants to help out, fine. Once we're done, I plan to punch him in the ear. Future events may include some more directly competitive elements, but the story of Alsbeth and what she is doing really does not lend itself to adding more souls to the River before facing her.

PC Gamer: Are there plans to expand Rift's PvP content? What kind of additions would you like to make?

Hal Hanlin: We are absolutely planning multiple new ways to kill each other. I won't go into details here, but PVPers will love what we're working on.

PC Gamer: Can we expect more events like this one in future? Will they be a regular occurence?

Hal Hanlin: Nothing in Telara is “regular,” but you can absolutely expect more content. Moreover, we are implementing it in a way that is designed to increase the variety and boss-mechanics of the rifts and invasions, so the nature of the game itself will shift over time.

PC Gamer: Are there any features that fans have requested that you're working on adding to the game?

Hal Hanlin: Tons. Scott has made the implementation of constant improvements a mandate. Some of the things are ideas that one or more of the designers had in their mind as a someday project, and they use this as an excuse to pull the trigger. Others are “Whoa, that's a cool idea” sort of thing.

PC Gamer: How do you see Rift growing over the next five years?

Hal Hanlin: I see multiple tracks of content coming out, supporting the various core mechanics of the game. We will be adding raids, warfronts, in-world content, and some stuff that is really exciting, but that I can't even allude to yet. I think that the game will shift in ways that even we cannot predict at this time, because of Scott's focus on listening to the community and being nimble.

PC Gamer: Are there any plans for major expansions down the line? Are there plans to raise the level cap, or add extra armour tiers?

Hal Hanlin: Yes. ;)

If you're tempted to try Rift, but aren't sure whether you should take the plunge, check out our Rift review. If you're already playing, swing by our forums

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.