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Earlier this year Trion World Network put the word out that they were using the famed Hero engine in an upcoming MMORPG. Not only did they make the announcement about their secret project but they also unveiled that the game would be officially announced during E3. Well, E3 has come and gone and Planes of Telara was Trion’s secret title that was revealed during gaming’s most exciting event of the year.
So what is Rift: Planes of Telara? It’s an MMORPG set within a medieval-fantasy themed universe and will actually feature some truly unique undertakings for broadening the experience of playing an MMORPG. One of the features that have truly sparked an inkling of interest is in the way players will evolve their characters into heroes. Unlike other MMORPGs where players simply aim to get stronger, Planes of Telara encourages players to explore and evolve in a free-form, multi-class fashion. I don’t think I’ve ever played an MMO where they promote multi-class exploration and leveling, but that’s actually one of the highlights of this game.
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Based on the way the adventuring takes place, players will encounter a lot of server-side events that will ultimately challenge parties and guilds to rise to the occasion and bringing some originality to the questing. In this way, Trion World Network wanted players to progress by capitalizing on the opportunity of using multiple sub-classes on the fly so that each player is well-equipped for whatever challenge they face.
It’s also in this same way that Trion has also put an end to separating players by levels, because they have implemented a leveling system that encourages players from any class and any level-grade to party with other players for experience. Presumably, Trion is working on the experience and questing problems that limit many players from partying with each other in other MMOs, and focusing more efforts on stabilizing events suited to the player’s experience. This system has been set in place to replace the standard system that sees players having to stick to specific maps that are designed for specific levels. I know that may seem a little confusing, but just know that Trion is ensuring that level-based fascism will not be a common occurrence in their game.
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In addition to the universal partying options, Trion has stated that players will mostly aim to become heroes at the “right place” and “right time”…so it’s not just about getting stronger but finding the right moments to capitalize on being a “hero” (or anti-hero) in the game. That concept alone makes Planes of Telara sound more interesting than some of the other MMO titles out there. In a way, it seems like it's capitalizing on the “fame” concept from SOE’s Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, in which players were awarded with world recognition for defeating certain bosses or completing special events. This method of becoming renown is being applied as the driving force for leveling and questing in Rift: Planes of Telara.
One of the things Russ Brown, the Vice President of Trion, brought out during an interview with GameTrailers, is that enemy encounters have also vastly been improved over standard-fare MMORPGs. Heroes of Telara will feature small enemies such as Kobolds, screen-filling monsters such as quad-pedal behemoths and even the ubiquitous fantasy bosses such as dragons. MMO gamers know that most bad-guy encounters include standing around and repeatedly pressing the right mouse-button. Well, in Heroes of Telara that feature has been altered to suit a battle system that is a bit more active and provides a more entertaining experience. Supposedly it will help with making level-grinding more fun, while at the same time providing a seamless experience for both hardcore and casual gamers.
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Locations And Traveling
In addition to all this the game will feature vast environments and exotic locations that range from small villages to entrenched jungles and everything else in between. Whoever did the mapping and design for the various locations did an amazing job…for an MMO the world looks very immersive and densely aesthetic. Of course, this is based on sparse footage, screenshots and demos that were released of the game. Nevertheless, it looks good. To traverse the vast terrain Trion has also included a variety of transportation, also known as mounts: Various animals, horses and mythical wildlife will work as a means for long-distance travel, so players need not worry about having to get from one place to the next by foot.
Planes of Telara is due out for PC in 2011. You can visit the official Trion World Network website for further updates regarding the game.
Upcoming MMORPGs for those who like something a little different out of their experience.