Rift is a free-to-play fantasy MMORPG developed by Trion Worlds. Released in 2011, it has continued to receive updates and support from the developers since then. To this day, it has a strong and growing player base.
The age of the game does show in its graphics, however, with the more grounded and realistic style not aging particularly well in comparison to more cartoony MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft or Aion. While the graphics are not entirely up to par, that doesn’t stop the world from looking great, especially at a distance.
The gameplay is where Rift really stands apart from other MMOs available. The combat in Rift, even though it is the same action-button-based combat as most other MMOs, feels fast and fun, while the varying enemy types always give you something new to look at.
Story and Characters
The story of Rift unfolds on the fantasy world of Telara, where two competing factions make up of a selection of races and classes. They war not only with each other, but also with monsters who appear from the titular elemental rifts in the fabric of reality.
Rift features a different take on character build classes. Using a system known as the “Ascended Soul” class system, players have greater freedom in how they want to play.
Rift offers four generic classes, your typical RPG fare, but each separate class has a further ten “souls” to pick from. Players choose three souls at a time, which allows for more combinations and a deeper feeling character than can be found in any other RPG experience.
This system coupled with the frantic combat can lead to some really interesting experiences. Though, some builds are much more viable than others late in the game. If you are looking to get the most out of your character, consult any of the numerous wikis for Rift. If you are playing just to have fun, play your way and enjoy the experience.
All MMOs have a character creation screen where you pick your race and your class. But Rift takes it a step further with the in-game cosmetic items and armor sets, giving you nearly unlimited control over what your character can look like.
Do you want to be a fearsome swashbuckler? Do it. A terrifying, monstrous destroyer? Build yourself bulky and find the right armor set.
Rift lets you express yourself through your character. Be it the look or the playstyle or a combination of both, you can be anyone in Telara.
One of the main selling points of Rift is the dynamic rift events that can occur anywhere and at any time. For these, players must come together and defeat the monsters that spawn to close the rift, gaining loot and experience in the process. These rifts lead to zone progression, which ultimately leads to a boss encounter in the open world, needing even more players to band together.
In this way, Rift creates community play, bringing players from all over the zone together to stop a common enemy. For me, it is one of the better parts of the gameplay loop in Rift. The main story can wait, there are rifts to close!
Rift has a massive amount of content, for every race in both factions, ranging from PVE to PVP and everything in between. While some players just coming in to Rift might find this off-putting or feel like they might never catch up, this amount of content lets you level-up and catch up more quickly.
The downside to free-to-play
Rift was originally released on a subscription service similar to World of Warcraft. Since it has gone free-to-play, the in-game store has become bloated.
PVP gear was removed altogether, meaning that special stats for dealing with specific situations were also removed. PVE has become more casual, and getting into endgame raids is almost impossible for solo players. This means that if you want the best gear in the game, you are going to have to buy it.
Some people, myself included, don’t mind dropping a couple of dollars here and there into a free-to-play game we enjoy. But when it is the only way to progress, then it becomes a bit off-putting.
If the store didn’t offer such powerful gear and instead only cosmetics, as it did when it was a subscription service, then it wouldn’t be so bad.
The biggest red flag about playing Rift is that Rift Prime closed earlier this year. Rift Prime was a paid server that progressively unlocked content as it was played through. With Trion Worlds being bought out last year, it is beginning to look a lot like Rift could be on its last legs.
That said, Rift is still an enjoyable MMORPG experience if you are looking to kill some time. There are better free-to-play MMORPGs out there, but that doesn’t stop Rift being fun for a couple of hours here and there. If you haven’t played it yet, perhaps you should try it while you can.