Pax West 2019: The Riftbreaker Puts an Exciting Twist on Base-Building Games

(Image credit: Exor Studios)

Casting you alone in a strange world with just your handy mech, The Riftbreaker puts a fresh spin on the base-building genre by adding in a bit of hacking and slashing to the mix. The main focus of The Riftbreaker is to gather enough resources to build a portal back home. It’s a blend of survival base-management and intense twin-stick shooting. 

The PAX West demo showcased the basic flow of the game along with the types of aggressive wildlife that'll try to slow down your progress. Your main objective is to build a network of persistent bases that’ll contribute to your over resource count and hopefully get you back home while using your giant mech to shoot rockets at bugs. 

Bug-like creatures will come and attack in waves to try to storm your walls a la Starship Troopers. At the early stages of the game, this is where your customizable mech comes in. The combat works like a twin-stick shooter when you’re not managing a base. So, if things are good at your base, you can venture to discover more resources or complete quests, mostly involving you blowing something up with your mech. 

Your mech can equip weapons on both arms that you can swap on the fly depending on the situation. Personally, I love switching to my flame throwers and lighting up the environment catching any and all bad guys reckless enough to swarm through in the blaze. All the foliage can be ignited in spectacular fashion. 

(Image credit: Exor Studios)

The demo has you placed in a tropical forest-type biome with thick forest which will be one of a few different environments each with unique resources. If you played Starcraft or Age of Empires, you’ll feel right at home when you see batches of ore and minerals out in the world and you find ways to extract them yourselves or build an expansion base. What I found really impressive is how large grass will sway whenever large hordes of monsters zip by. 

Speaking of bases, you can layer walls, set up turrets and create other defenses. One useful tool is the ability to build a small network of portals in a region that would as fast travel points for each of your bases should they assistance. Polish developer EXOR Studios is promising that smart players can build fully automated bases that can defend and even repair themselves while you venture out into the wild. What sounds neat is the Factorium-like bases you can build with pipelines of production when harvesting energy, fuel and other natural resources from the planet once everything is automated. Expect those defenses to be tested as the creatures become more and more aggressive and their numbers rise to the hundreds and thousands. 

Where things get complicated is darting between your various bases as the need arises. The demo ended with an endless wave of bugs that ravaged my defenses despite my best efforts. I wholly expect that this won’t be the last time an overwhelming horde of acid-spewing bugs will try to destroy my carefully constructed base. Expect to see The Riftbreaker next year on PC. 

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Jorge Jiminez is a reporter, game critic, and writer from New Jersey with more than 10 years of experience. He writes primarily for PCGamer, although his work has appeared on other sites, including Tom's Guide, DualShockers, WCCFTech, and more. He specializes in reviewing games and gaming hardware, and greatly enjoys Pop-Tarts.