E3 2019 Hands-On – The Riftbreaker
The Riftbreaker turned out to be one of my biggest surprises at E3 this year, not because it had a flashy show, big booth, or cool gifts to give out, but because it was genuinely a very fun game. In fact, I joined Pawel Lekki Co-Founder of EXOR Studios at one of the smallest booths in the South Hall and they only had two set ups jammed next to each other. It didn’t matter though, they didn’t need a big flashy showcase because The Riftbreaker spoke for itself. I just hope that they got the attention they deserve, as I’m so glad I had the opportunity to play it. Going into the demo I had no clue what the game was about, what genre or what it even looked like, but it quickly became a favorite and instantly went into my Steam wishlist.
The Riftbreaker is a base-building, survival game with Action-RPG elements. You play the role of captain Ashley S. Nowak, an elite scientist/commando inside a powerful Mecha-Suit named “Mr. Riggs”. Enter a one-way portal to Galatea 37, a distant planet at the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, with the purpose of building up a base that will allow travel back to Earth and for further colonization. Mr. Riggs can withstand the harshest environmental conditions and has a full range of equipment for base construction, resource extraction, gathering specimens and of course – combat. It is capable of traveling through rifts that connect space across vast distances.
When my demo started I already had a basic base set up with walls, a handful of turrets, and some general equipment to restock some resources. After a few moments of being able to explore the base, a massive horde of indigenous creatures came swarming my left flank attempting to break in and destroy my base. Apparently the natives of Galatea 37 aren’t exactly happy with my presence here and will randomly attack your base. This is where I got the first taste of the combat and it felt really nice. I was using an Xbox controller and they use a pretty standard twin-stick combat scheme, but the combat is visceral and gory. I was equipped with a machine gun in my left that can swap out to rockets, and a massive blade for melee in my right that can be swapped for a shield. Hacking down groups of small enemies in a burst cloud of gore felt great while I was unloading hell upon the enemies in the back with my machine gun. It all felt natural and the controls are intuitively laid out for controller use.
After successfully defending the base I was tasked to go wipe out a nest of enemies or else the attacks would keep coming more frequently. This is where I got a better look at some of the lush forest area and some big mean looking monsters. Wiping out the nest was no easy task, but this isn’t my first twin-stick shooter so I was able to accomplish it swiftly. This is where Pawel showed me a few extra combat items I can use like landmines and the ability to repair Mr. Riggs when he has received too much damage. The lush forest area was beautiful, filled with grass, tall trees and alien looking plant life. The visuals are really appealing and at first I thought they were using the Unreal Engine or something because the lighting, shadows, and general texture detail were really well done. But Pawel informed be that this is a custom in house engine and I must give them props for it, because The Riftbreaker looks fantastic.
Once I was done destroying the natives home nests (I realize this sounds bad, but hey, humans come first, right?) I was tasked with finding a steel resource spot that we can farm. This is a base building survival RPG game so resources will be needed for everything you do and it’s really the only way to proceed. After finding the ideal farming spot we plop down a steel factory, but we also need to attache four solar panels to power it. When building resource factories like this, they make a lot of noise and will attract enemies so I needed to build fortifications around the factory. But while I was doing this, my main base was being attacked. What you can do is create a rift in your bases that will automatically transport you between bases that way you can quickly defend. I made my rift, brought up my map, selected the main base rift, and it instantly brought me back to a MASSIVE wave of enemies. Just when I thought I was done, I get an indicator that my steel factory is being attacked. Jump back through that rift and have at it again. No matter the distance traveled there will be no loading screens during exploration or rift transport.
Feeling accomplished after successfully defending my two bases, I start fortifying my steel factory area with walls and turrets. If I had one main gripe about The Riftbreaker would be the controller setup for the base building menus and selections. It’s not quite as smooth and intuitive as the combat, but I was ensured by Pawel that this is something they’re aware of and continually working on improving. While I was beefing up defenses I get a notice that a massive horde of enemies was about to attack my main base and this attack notice came with a countdown. I rift back, spend every ounce of resources I have on doubling up walls and adding more turrets. The notice wasn’t lying, the horde was huge, and viscous. They broke my defenses, they destroyed my base, and killed me promptly. Apparently it is always supposed to end like this, but its a demonstration of the size and difficulty of some of the fights later on.
When the demo ended, Pawel had an opportunity to talk about some additional features of the game that I think will be a very interesting addition. EXOR Studios is working closely with the top streaming platforms to integrate interactive streaming with your community. This means if you’re streaming or you’re watching your favorite streamer play, the community will be able to interact with the player in harmful and helpful ways. He gave some examples of actions players will be able to participate in. There will be click events where if the player runs out of ammo, the community can rapidly click the ammo button to feed the player ammunition during massive fights to give him an upper hand. Or if the community is feeling like a-holes, they can send in some extra enemies to mess with them. These are only a couple of examples of the things they want to implement and they’re actively trying to balance the negative choices so trolls aren’t trying to ruin the players game.
Whether you’re a survival fan, base building fan, twin-stick shooter fan, or action RPG fan, The Riftbreaker has it all. It was a genuine pleasure to be able to play it at E3, I was surprised and blown away, and I fully look forward to playing the full game at release. EXOR Studios is very active with their community, so if you want to learn more, check out their Discord.
Developer: EXOR Studios
Publisher: EXOR Studios
Platforms: Steam, Xbox One (Coming Soon), PS4 (Coming Soon)
Release Date: TBD Sometime in 2020