Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on the PS5 got star billing at the Gamescom Opening Night Live 2020 stream. This turned out to be a smart decision, as of all the next-gen games we’ve seen so far, Rift Apart continues to be one of the few titles that almost certainly could not exist on a current-gen console. In an extended gameplay demo, we saw the titular duo battle goons, upgrade bizarre weapons and, perhaps most impressively, grapple through dimensions in just seconds.
While the Gamescom Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart demo wasn’t terribly different than what we saw at Sony’s Future of Gaming event back in June, we did learn a few interesting tidbits about the title, including where it fits into the Ratchet & Clank chronology, how it will take advantage of the DualSense controller and when it’s coming out. (Spoiler: It’s not a launch title, but you may get it sooner than you think.)
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Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart gameplay
First off, if you haven’t seen the Ratchet & Clank extended gameplay demo from Gamescom, you can watch the whole thing here:
As mentioned above, it’s a longer version of what we saw back in June. In this snippet of gameplay, Ratchet and Clank find themselves in a huge city under attack by recurring villain Dr. Nefarious and his Goons 4 Less henchmen.
Those who know the Ratchet & Clank gameplay loop already know what to expect here. As Ratchet and Clank dispatch various gun-wielding lizards, sand sharks and robotic dogs, they can switch among four different weapons: the tried-and-true Burst Pistol, the area-of-effect Shatter Bomb, the turret-like Topiary Sprinkler and the double-barreled Enforcer. Weapons level up as you use them, and you can collect various nuts and bolts as you destroy the enemies, crates and objects you find scattered around the big, colorful levels.
Granted, Ratchet and Clank have been doing all that since 2002. The PS5-specific part of the experience came later, when Ratchet started grappling through dimensional rifts, instantly crossing parts of the city, while whole new sets of enemies, vehicles and bystanders materialized in front of him.
However, the really impressive application of the rifts came toward the end of the demo, when Ratchet jumped among a good four or five different sci-fi worlds through rift after rift. Entire levels, chock full of complex platforms, deadly enemies and plenty of destructible objects, loaded in their entirety during Ratchet’s two-second journeys through the various rifts. This is almost certainly a function of the PS5’s rapidly loading SSD, which Sony has touted as hundreds of times faster than the PS4’s more traditional hard drive.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart DualSense and story
While it’s impossible to convey how a controller feels during a livestreamed demo, developers from Insomniac spoke briefly about how players can expect the DualSense to feel during gameplay. While the DualShock 4 (and previous PlayStation controllers) could deliver various levels of vibration when Ratchet and Clank fired off bullets, bombs or rockets, the DualSense will allow more subtle haptic feedback. One specific example is that players will be able to push down a trigger slightly to fire a single Enforcer barrel, or all the way down for a double-barreled blast. Different weapons will supposedly create completely different haptic patterns, which means that firing the Burst Gun could feel radically different from firing a Shatter Bomb, in ways that go beyond vibrational intensity.
One last piece of news sure to please longtime fans is that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will pick up where Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus left off, way back in 2013. This means it won’t pick up on the well-received Ratchet & Clank reboot from 2016, or the abysmal animated movie from the same year. (Although since the game deals with traveling between dimensions, who’s to say Insomniac won’t find a way to tie together the timelines somehow?)
It seems too early to predict much about Rift Apart’s story, but there are two important elements we’ve observed so far. The first is that during the gameplay demo, Clank encounters a mysterious female Lombax, who’s already become a popular character online. You’ll be able to play as her for at least part of the game, so perhaps Clank will team up with the newcomer while searching for Ratchet.
The second piece of information is that Dr. Nefarious has apparently returned to a life of crime after his possible change of heart in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Granted, Dr. Nefarious has been a decoy villain in almost every one of his appearances, so the odds seem good that Ratchet and Clank will encounter some greater threat at some point along the line.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart release date
Finally, we learned when Ratchet & Clank: Rift apart will be coming out — sort of. While Insomniac wouldn’t commit to an exact date, the developers claimed that the game would be available during the PS5’s “launch window.” This itself is a somewhat nebulous term, but historically, a “launch window” includes games that come out anytime up to three or four months after a console launches. That means we could see Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in November, or we could see it in March, depending on when the PS5 launches and how long the game takes to finish development.
In the meantime, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is one of the first games we’ve seen that seems to take full advantage of the PS5’s technical capabilities in in big, showy ways. We’ll have more information on the game as soon as Insomniac gives its next update.