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When it comes to MMORPGs you have a lot of options to choose from. The genre has seen the introduction of more than a dozen new games in the past year alone, making it more difficult than ever to pick the right MMORPG to invest hundreds if not thousands of hours into.
Among the many options sits Rift, a game that has experienced remarkable success since its release. You may have heard of it, and you definitely have a friend who has tried it, but you might not be aware of just how profound of a game it really is.
Rift celebrated its five-year anniversary this year, and is stronger than ever. Whether you're looking for a new MMORPG to sink your teeth into, or just want a game to keep you busy during the Summer, Rift is a game that you should strongly consider playing. Let's go over why.
A Master of Outdoor Content
Rift makes a strong effort to encourage players to head outside of cities and explore its beautiful landscapes. Set in the fantasy world of Telara, there are several elemental planes that serve as the perfect opportunity for outdoor content.
As its name implies, the game has Rifts that spawn at various outdoor locations. These are tears in the fabric of reality that challenge the well-being of the world’s inhabitants. Players are compelled to head to a Rift when it opens and engage in something that isn’t common in modern MMORPGs: organic open-world group content. This content brings people together at notable locales, from the Kelari stronghold of the Ember Isle, to the forgotten ruins of of Brevane. Players must coordinate to be successful at these locations, many times with strangers, and are rewarded for their efforts.
Zone Events further incentivize players to head outside of the main cities that they usually dwell in other MMORPGs. These range in style, from assisting NPCs, to destroying notable foes. Most importantly, they always include a narrative that helps provide context as to why players are participating in the content.
Although Rifts and Zone Events are remarkably popular, they aren't the only way that outdoor content is encouraged. The introduction of Instant Adventures has been wildly successful with players, providing a solution for the age old problem in MMORPGs where it's difficult to find other others players to participate with in world content. Within the user interface players can seamlessly queue up and be placed in a group alongside other players looking to conquer content in a given zone.
Due to the success of these types of content, Rift isn't just a MMORPG about instanced content. You are introduced to social outdoor content early on and it remains a significant element of the experience even at level cap.
Diverse Instanced Content
Not all of Rift’s content is outdoor-oriented. Players can participate in a variety of focused content ranging from Dungeons, to Slivers, and Raids. Each of these types of content denotes the number of players that participate in them, which consist of 5-players, 10-players, and 20-players respectively.
In the case of Raids, there have been several released since Rift’s launch. These are the greatest challenge that players can face within the game, and require remarkable teamwork among players. They are also where the most powerful gear is located, making them an attractive option for players looking to stand out. The amount of effort put into these has made them a main attraction among MMORPG fans who enjoy raid progression.
But not all players have to sign up for a raid schedule alongside hardcore players in order to be successful at level cap. Dungeons and Slivers are great in number and have a large volume of items for players to acquire. These require a smaller number of players to participate in making them a much more inviting choice for the average player.
There are also Chronicles, which are one of Rift’s neatest ideas. These are dungeons designed for one or two players that provide a means for experiencing the endgame story of Telara without having to commit to large-scale group content. Casual players have gravitated toward Chronicles, as well as friends who want to dive into content without relying on strangers.
Option-Oriented Class Design
In a world where MMORPG class design leans toward homogenization with simple, limited spec options, Rift reminds us of how exciting it once was to have a wealth of options.
Rift’s Ascended Class System includes nine tiers in a tree style system, with two to four options per tier. As you progress toward the top of the tree you gain access to powerful active and passive abilities that alter the way you play the class, so you'll have a great sense of impact on your playstyle as you make decisions along the tree path. Placing points in a tree also makes your affinity increase, granting you access to base skills, as seen on the bottom of the image below.
What’s most remarkable about the system is when you make a character you choose from one of five Callings: Cleric, Mage, Primalist, Rogue, or Warrior. Within your Calling you have access to up to 10 Souls, which are effectively the specs of the game. You can have three of these equipped at any given time, allowing you to cross-specialize.
The nature of this system grants you access a seemingly endless number of options for how you want to play the game. It also allows you to enjoy many playstyle flavors from a single Calling without feeling like you need to level up a whole new character to mix things up.
For example, let’s say you make a Warrior. As you level up you can choose to play that Warrior as a traditional Champion, a Paladin, Warlord, or even a Beastmaster. Each of these disciplines is very distinct in style and has its own pros and cons. Experimentation is encouraged, to say the least.
An Inviting Free-To-Play Environment
A transition to free-to-play has been a death knell for many MMORPGs. For Rift, it’s been the signal of a new chapter, one that is more inviting than ever before.
Rift is considered one of the most welcoming free-to-play MMORPGs in existence due to its lack of invasive counter-features. Without spending any money, players are able to complete a journey to level cap and participate in the endgame content described above, and more. There is a great sense of freedom for all players in the game, even those who choose not to spend money.
However, players have the option to pay a small monthly fee to gain “Patron Benefits”. These include login rewards, boosts to currency and loot acquisition, as well as perks that include faster travel speed and instant access to the bank and class trainer. Each of these things have been tailored to make the game experience a little more convenient without providing any major advantages.
The benefits of the Patron system are seen as favorable for players who find themselves deeply interested in the game, yet are never mandatory. Meanwhile, players who would prefer to enjoy the experience while adhering to its free-to-play nature don’t feel punished like they do in nearly every other free-to-play MMORPG. In essence, Patron players pay the tab so that everyone can enjoy the game at the cost of their liking.
One of the greatest outputs of this thoughtfully crafted free-to-play system is it’s much easier to invite friends to play the game. The low barrier of entry is a huge boon to groups of friends who enjoy playing games together.
A Strong Legacy
Rift has been on the market since March 2011. Since that time it’s received three expansions and a multitude of major updates. It has also been the recipient of strong seasonal event support.
This support will continue with the debut of Starfall Prophecy, a brand new expansion coming to Rift this year. Starfall Prophecy will bring with it a new level cap of 70, along with an option to earn all new legendary powers across all of the game's more than 50 souls. There will also be a new area called Comet of Ahnket that houses five new zones, as well as new challenges including two dungeons and a raid. Within these areas you can earn new upgrades such as Eternal items and Planar Planar Fragments that enhance your gear.
This new content has been built with veterans in mind, as well as for new players who have never experienced the game. Pre-orders will even include an instant level 65 boost so anyone can make the quick jump to high level and head to Comet of Ahnket to enjoy the latest content that it has to offer.
Rift has been well-received among critics and users alike, with a strong review average and accolades ranging from MMORPG.com’s Game of the Year to Game Developer’s Choice Online Awards.
Put simply, Rift is one of the best MMORPGs on the market, and has gotten better over time. We encourage you to try it out if you haven't already. You can sign up and download the game here.