The Riftbreaker is a silly name for a game that’s way better than the title suggests. Released in October on Xbox Game Pass and mixing elements from FactorioMinecraftMechWarriorDiabloand others, I found this top-down survival game very hard to put down.
This piece originally ran on Kotaku Australia on December 3, 2021. It has been re-timed as a weekend reading.
I’m going to call it too Riftbreaker from here, okay? Cool.
Ashley, your player character, is an “elite scientist/command in an advanced Mecha-Suit capable of dimensional canyon travel.” Pretty common situation. Being a tough soldier and a skilled researcher, you are sent to a distant planet with a talking mecha suit, and the only way back is to craft a new super advanced Rift portal. Cue a lot of trees to break and build fences.
At first I wasn’t sure if I was up for it. Sure, collecting resources is fine for a while, but I didn’t want to spend countless hours doing it. But after about 20 minutes, the game taught me how to build automatic mining machines, fences, power lines, turrets and storage containers. It was here that I realized Riftbreaker was not only a survival game but also a game about creating a large highly efficient resource extraction empire. My first session lasted almost eight hours.
Riftbreaker you don’t have to worry about hunger, thirst or the battery level of your mech. All the micromanaging is done around the base using a fairly easy to use construction system. Riftbreaker slowly adds more layers to the experience over time, which helps keep the game from feeling overwhelming. First you learn about mining, then storing all that stuff, then building even more wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity, and then how to store extra energy from batteries. It builds up slowly enough that I never felt confused, but fast enough that I was never bored. The deadly creatures on the planet also helped keep things exciting.
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the giant swarms of monsters.
While Ashley scours the world for new resources, or after upgrading her base, she is attacked by aliens of all shapes and sizes. Often these attacks take the form of huge masses of writhing, crawling death, wave after wave of space critters and monsters. Thanks to the overhead view and responsive combat controls, Riftbreaker starts to feel like an action RPG. You start out with only a small sword and a gun with little ammunition. Upgrading your base will unlock more movement and combat skills for your mech, more lethal weapons and massive spears. (Free tip: As soon as the large research tree opens, go for the spears. They are powerful, kill most things in one fell swoop, and have a long range, so you can safely take out explosive enemies.)
As your base grows and you expand your HQ, you’ll unlock more ways to rip minerals from the planet and defend your operation against all the nasty creatures that want to ruin your adventure. This leads to a loop that Riftbreaker not invented, but does it perfectly: collect some resources, unlock something new, build something new, buy more stuff, use that stuff to build more, etc.
This is the kind of game where you go to stop playing, but then one last thing catches your eye and you think, “Well, I’ll just go upstairs and put a mining bot.” But somehow two hours go by and before you know it you’ve built a whole secondary outpost, complete with well-organized storage and defenses.
Read more: The 17 Best Games on Xbox Game Pass
On Xbox Series X, Riftbreaker looks sleek and runs without technical defects. The text and menus are a bit too small, and if you have to use a cursor to control some parts of the user interface, it feels like a PC port that could use some extra work. But these are just minor complaints. And honestly, this thing is on Game Pass, so you can probably already access it at no extra cost.
If the idea is to build a huge and efficient base while fending off waves of aliens using diablo-like fighting sounds good go dig in Game Pass and give (sigh) The Riftbreaker a shot. It’s a wonderful example of how the massive Game Pass library can harbor hidden gems amid the big ticket Halos and forzas, so give it a try and see if you don’t like it either.