The Riftbreaker E3 Impression
Exor Studios’ The Riftbreaker hovers on the periphery of the RPG spectrum, focusing on a mix of base-building mechanics combined with some isometric real-time hack-and-slash action. Preferring a semi-open world sandbox experience with emergent storytelling over a traditional linear narrative, The Riftbreaker is all about taming a wild, hostile sci-fi world while surviving by any means necessary.
Ashley Nowak is the Riftbreaker, a one-woman pioneering force in a mobile exo-suit equipped for self-defense, discovery, research, and colonization. She’s been sent to the far-distant world of Galatea 37, for one single purpose: establish a two-way rift portal back to Earth that will make it easier to colonize this new world. Before this can be done, some basic housekeeping must be attended to, in the form of placing vital machinery before colonists arrive, researching local wildlife, and scouting the lay of the land for resource locations and advantageous positions.
With only Mr. Riggs, the AI on board her exo-suit, to keep her company, Ashley sets about her task by completing challenges and quests that the game throws at her. Zones are randomly generated, and may include hazardous conditions and powerful foes. Ashley’s suit is up to dealing with the unfriendly environments, but hostile encounters require the player’s intervention. Areas are large, but the whole world doesn’t exist as one large open sandbox. Rather, Ashley teleports to new locations if an objective requires her to go there.
Playing through the first few objectives of the demo, before it culminated in an enemy assault, saw the game walking me through a number of steps to set up some vital mining equipment some distance away from base camp. En route to the locations pinpointed on my mini map, I got to see Ashley mowing through several waves of enemies like butter. Her rig is equipped with different types of weapons, like rapid-fire machine guns to cut through swarms of cannon fodder and missile launchers to deal with larger, heavily-armored foes. Setting up the mining equipment by utilizing several dedicated building menus caused a steady stream of silver ore to come rolling in, opening up further construction projects. No sooner had my mining operation begun to flow than my mini-map showed an enemy assault on my home base. This kind of ping-ponging from base-building to heavy action seems to be par for the course for the final product, interspersed with even more exploratory options like conducting wildlife research on the alien species of Galatea 37.
Once the assault began in earnest, I managed to hold out for a while, but as Exor’s CEO Wojciech Lekki laughingly told me, it was impossible to come out on top here, in order to keep the demo focused in on a short slice of gameplay. The Riftbreaker is being developed for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and has an estimated release window of sometime in 2020.