Perfect Ten: RIFT features that deserve praise

Maybe it will be short-lived, but it is exciting to see attention and excitement return to the sphere of RIFT following the announcement of the upcoming Prime server ruleset. I’ve gone from not thinking much of this title in my absence to somewhat missing it to absolutely craving it within the span of a week, and I’m sure that’s only going to get worse.

Seeing friends and commenters talk about RIFT has reminded me of just how many incredible features and qualities this MMO has. Sure, it’s made a lot of missteps and just about nobody really loves the business model, but there is a genuinely good game here that has a feature set that most MMOs could only dream about having on the back of the box.

So whether you’re thinking about returning to RIFT this spring or perhaps taking it up for the first time, here are 10 features from the game that I feel deserve public kudos.

1. Free and instant server transfers

Apart from MMOs with a shared shard (EVE Online, Star Trek Online), all online RPGs have to struggle with a community artificially divided in different realms. Usually, it costs money and takes time for a player to transfer even a single character between servers. With RIFT? You just put in a request at the character selection screen and there you go. Costs nothing. Happens practically instantly. And it has always made me wonder why this sort of practice isn’t standard in the industry.

2. No factional barriers

When the game launched, RIFT lined up with the industry standard by giving us two factions (Defiants and Guardians) that were opposed militarily and philosophically. But after a while, the whole threat of invading hostile planes made factions increasingly silly and irrelevant. Now the line between the two are all but erased. Players can still fight it out in PvP, but now everyone is more or less on the same team and fighting a common enemy.

3. Dimensions

Apart from WildStar, Star Wars Galaxies, and EverQuest II, I would put RIFT up at the top of any MMO housing list for how well-done and robust it is. Everyone gets these housing dimensions early on and can own many different ones. Heck, even guilds can set up shop and invite members to collaborate! There are scads of decor items, tons of different dimensions, a crafting profession that is devoted to this system, and placement tools that are incredibly easy to use. It’s one of my all-time favorite activities in this game and something that I wish every MMO would copy without a change.

4. Instant Adventures

RIFT has always been great in giving players options in their leveling experience. Sure, you could quest or PvP or dungeon queue, but another viable option is to sign up for instant adventures. These take the concept of public quests and then chain them across entire zones, throwing together groups of players and giving them common tasks to perform. They’re laid back and enjoyable, and I have whiled away many hours relaxing while running around with other players fighting rifts and whaling on bosses.

5. Level scaling

I don’t hear a lot of people mention RIFT’s level scaling tech when the topic comes up, but they really should. RIFT continues its streak of demolishing barriers between friends playing by allowing players to artificially scale their level down to earn XP rewards and not overpower an area — and to scale up for certain content so that they can fight with friends and enjoy high level stuff without waiting days to get there. And as with so many other features in this game, it’s slick as snot to use.

6. Cosmetics

I have gone on the record as saying that I’m not the biggest fan of many armor designs in this game, but at least I have the cosmetic system to choose the exact look I do want. RIFT’s wardrobe automatically memorizes the skins of any gear or weapons you pick up and then gives you the freedom to piece together an outfit, dye it, and wear the weapon you desire. This also made holiday events that much more exciting for all of the unique cosmetics you could attain and keep forever.

7. On-the-fly class adjustments

Probably RIFT’s best-known feature is its mix-and-match soul system that allows players enormous flexibility in customizing a class to fit the playstyle of a person instead of forcing a person to fit the playstyle of the class. What is even better, at least to me, is that this option always remains available. Get tired of your build after 100 hours of invested time? You can reroll on the fly and come up with a completely different build within minutes. It encourages experimentation and keeps a character from growing stale.

8. Zone puzzles

There are a lot of side activities in RIFT, including achievement hunting and artifact collecting. But I’ve always been the most interested in zone puzzles as an optional task. Each zone in the game has a hidden puzzle that can range from mildly tricky to diabolic in nature. They’re really inventive and often come with great rewards, which is why I make a point of seeking them out.

9. Minions

Systems like RIFT’s minions aren’t for everyone, but I really do enjoy cultivating a stable of loyal followers that I can send out on timed missions for various rewards. There’s a little bit of strategy involved, which is appreciated, and getting a heapload of awesome dimension decor when I log in always makes my day.

10. Support roles

It might be a small thing, but I do appreciate the fact that RIFT still sticks up for the idea of support roles in groups. Each dungeon run contains one tank, one healer, two DPS, and one support character (at least in theory). While some players pressure support to just go full DPS, I actually do like buffing, side-tanking, side-healing, and otherwise helping out my team in ways that push the boundaries of the holy trinity. I feel that this has gotten a little lost over the years, but it’s still an option and it plays to RIFT’s strength as a class-flexible title.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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33 Comments on "Perfect Ten: RIFT features that deserve praise"

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Bryan Turner

I’ll just have to take your word for it, I’m still waiting for the feature that will enable me to log back in; all these features sound really good though.

styopa
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styopa

I think their Dimension function is about the best out there, the only thing missing (at least the last time I played) is functionality – AFAIK, not even the guild dimensions can have things like crafting benches, etc? Ie a real reason to go there other than just to “hang out” or RP.

RIFTs a great game that doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

I will say that TODAY it suffers a bit because it’s hard as hell to get into. So crazy many abilities, systems, talents, and mechanics that have been revamped ….and googling for guides either gives you:
– some web page from 2011 that is utterly irrelevant or
– a current build that assumes you’ve been playing it nonstop, have every cutting-edge raiding buff, top end gear, and want to do nothing but raid

The multiple layers of mechanics are nothing new with old games (EQ2 I’m looking at you), and part of it I admit I my own fault, I have a stable of toons that are lvl40-60+ with banks/bags full of stuff that, by the time I finish sorting through it all I’ve lost my impetus for playing. :|

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Alatar

From the random thoughts bin, your post prompting…

Dimensions can have crafting stations. In fact, there are publicly available dimensions on every shard where some really nice player has made a crafting room. Every station available, plus personal bank, guild bank, and mailbox. There is no auctioneer (because you CAN’T put one of those in a dimension).

As for the game being difficult to pick up, the recent revamp of the build presets has gone a long way to help the new player. Presets aren’t mix-max optimal, but they are all at least serviceable (there’s a reason a build becomes popular enough to make it as a preset).

RIFT has lost all competitive balance for PVP (you can just build too many class variants with all the options, and I don’t think ANYONE could balance those classes without seriously gutting the ability to make wild hybrid builds), so if PVP is your thing, I’d look elsewhere. They’ve also given up on the big raids, I think, so if you’re looking for hardcore 20 man “pay attention or DIE” raiding, this also won’t be your game. But it’s solo friendly, duo friendly, small group friendly, and there are still active guilds that connect you with people.

The P2W stuff is opinion. Yeah, lockboxes suck. But they exist because people buy them, so go look in a mirror. Apparently everybody hates them and nobody buys them, except they sell enough to make it worth their while. You can buy Level 70 Tier 1 raid gear for credits (Tier 2 requires currency only available in the raids themselves). I did the math. For a full set of Level 70 Tier 1 armor and weapons, you’ll need about $800 worth of credits. If that’s the kind of whale someone is, BLESS THEM because they just paid for a year of free play for a couple of other players. Who CARES whether someone bought their gear or not? You can’t “win” at MMOs anyway, outside of PVP. It’s Pay-2-Skip the grind, or something. I just can’t care, no matter how indignant the people around me seem to be.

The haters seem to be from two groups: people who hate Trion for reasons not related to RIFT (e.g. ArcheAge or Devilian) or long term players who don’t like where the game went. I honestly never meet a truly NEW player who has just picked up the game who dislikes it. They take it for what it IS, not what it was, or what people wanted it to become, and they love it. In fact, the usual response is “I don’t know why people are hating on this game so much, it’s great.”

Mukit
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Mukit

‘I have a stable of toons that are lvl40-60+ with banks/bags full of stuff that, by the time I finish sorting through it all I’ve lost my impetus for playing.’

I totally agree. Restarting can be so daunting when you were ‘leet back then but now you can barely remember how to attack/block/run…

clowd
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clowd

Regarding #5 – Rift’s level scaling does hit a few hurdles when you are at max level with raid gear and mentor down to lower levels. The power scaling due to skill availability and armor quality puts a level 70 in even the most basic of raid gear far ahead of lower level players in quested gear.

Thus, a level 70 in T1 raid gear and mentored down to level 20 will be far more powerful than a level 20 player in quested gear. It sounds like the team intends to address this further with the Prime server. I hope they are able to do so!

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Your assessment of the power of a scaled down level 70 in raid gear is 100% accurate, but I’d suggest that it shouldn’t be changed. By scaling down, they at least make it less absurd for them to engage in the lower zones (i.e. they don’t one hit kill everything they see). Yes they are still much more powerful than a native level 20 in quested gear, but they SHOULD be. They have adventured far and learned much (little RP going on here, I guess) and become powerful. They SHOULD have an advantage. At least they can dial back on the super strength so they don’t crush every handshake. :)

But I do understand what you’re saying. I really love getting into the “I’m on patrol” mindset, mentoring my Level 70 down to 20 and patrolling Freemarch, closing rifts, footholds, and shutting down invasions. It’s RP Lite. When it’s obvious that I’m shredding stuff and it’s not fun for others around me, I either stop or switch to a healer build where I heal them, nuke a bit, and STILL feel like a visiting demigod–just not one that’s ruining the fun for everyone around me.

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Jack Kerras

Point 5 seems like the biggest one around, as far as I’m concerned.

Absolutely everyone, without exception, should be doing level scaling, sidekicking, or otherwise making it so that no player ever has to run worthless content to play with a friend. That goes both ways. Endgame characters should be getting daily credits for doing combat, crafting, et al. even when they’re doing them with lowbie-leveling friends, and lowbie friends should be able to join extremely geared characters without worrying about getting exploded every half a second.

Being able to play well anywhere is fantastic, and breaking down barriers between players and the folks they invite is so important that it should never, ever have been relegated to ‘recruit-a-friend’ perks and whatnot. That shit should be on all the time. Stratification is a HUGE problem in any MMO, especially an MMO that doesn’t have the kind of playerbase WoW or EVE can field at any given moment.

This is my biggest complaint (believe it or not) with Fortnite. You want to play with a friend? You get nothing. NOTHING. And there are 150 hours of ‘quests’ you have to do before you can catch up to any significant degree. It’s a huge fucking drag to invite people and have them quit before they even get out of Stonewood. :/

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Matt Redding

It’s interesting they added this; I never heard a thing about it being added in. (I quit playing sometime after Storm Legion as the last area of the new continent opened up.)

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Alatar

It’s two parts, one active and one passive. Sidekicking is a passive ability that you toggle on or off. When on, it automatically boosts your level to match the highest level in any group or raid you join. You don’t gain new skills or talent points, but the skills you have and the gear you’re wearing gets decently bolstered so you’re not a creampuff. Mentoring is active, and you choose to temporarily lower your own level, to play in a lower level area of the game. Everything is down-bolstered, but you’re still awfully strong because of all the level 70 skills and talents. Still, it lets you not ruin everyone else’s fun (unless you’re TRYING to be a dick, in which case you just stay 70 and AOE the entire zone with one button press). I actually PREFER how WOW has done it with their zone scaling in 7.3.5, where the content scales to each player individually. It’s long and convoluted to explain why I like it so much but it makes it possible for players of widely varying levels to play together, experience challenging content, and reap good rewards. All automatically and REALLY effortlessly.

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Fisty

Zone puzzles were great.

serariron
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serariron

Rift having support roles was one of the biggest reasons I started playing it since I love nothing more than being a bard or dedicated CCer (both roles that pretty much only still exist in the Everquest franchise).

Then I found out that the group size was still just 5 and knew it just wouldn’t work, especially if you didn’t design encounters around having a supporter, which no company wanted to do at that point anymore.

In EQ2 for example it worked (even without bosses needing a support) because the default size is 6 and thus a bard is always welcome to buff the groups damage, especially since you already have 3 DPS anyway, but if you only have 5 slots, well, it’s much trickier.

I played it for 2 months, raided the first raid tier a few times and then just went back to Everquest 2 where the Destiny of Velious expansion was just few months old.

Rarley have I ever been this excited for an MMORPG launching with support roles only to then be disappointed.

Veldan
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Veldan

Huh? Seems like you just gave up too soon. It’s RIFT. If you felt like a full support wasn’t wanted in a 5 man group, you could just make a hybrid. Put half your points in support and the other half in DPS. You get to buff the group and still do some dmg, win/win.

I’m saying this from experience btw, I played dungeons as mage support hybrids for years. They were very good and wanted. I could out DPS many actual DPS players while also buffing the group.

serariron
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serariron

Which is what I didn’t want and why I left (not the only reason obviously but one of the reasons). I didn’t want to be a hybrid, I wanted to be a supporter, full blown and all that because that was the reason I started Rift in the first place. Otherwise I might as well could’ve played WoW

And Everquest 2 offered me exactly that. On my dirge I was buffing the melee DDs, combat rezzing dead guys, being the guy for raid mechanics (that didn’t involve dmg obviously, but stuff like pressing buttons at the right time and such) while doing some damage here and there.

It was wonderful and I don’t regret quitting Rift at all.

Lucky Jinx
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Lucky Jinx

Good list. I returned to Rift from SWTOR, and it’s been a good ride again. I got burned in Storm Legion with all the changes, but it is a solid game now despite the crappy business model. The options and freedom are exceptional for a theme park game… and then there are the squirrels.

I’d actually like to add the auction house to the list, which is better than I’ve seen in any game without any addons required. Automatic re-listing of items at suggested price and all that… it’s just very convenient, quick and easy.

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Linda Carlson

Well thankee, Justin!

We spend a lot of time trying to find ways of improving RIFT for our fellow players, and we are definitely seeing folks come back after years away.

Regarding 1. Free server transfers: We also allow people to hop between servers instantly in game too – just right click on your character portrait and select the target shard – this allows folks to join friends and large events on any server, any time. (The only restriction is the technical barrier between NA and EU servers because they are hosted on different hardware.)

Player feedback is very high on our list – we’ve always got quality of life improvements on the deck, such as the recent nerf in favor of sanity on our Eternal Weapon upgrade path. =)
Brasse

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Give it to us straight Linda, is Deepwood server gonna make it?

aYates
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aYates

I’m still playing Rift, casually, and still for free, but I really enjoy it, so I should drop a couple nickels on it! It’s a great MMO more should give a chance, despite Trion’s missteps.

taradyne
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taradyne

Glad to hear you are enjoying Rift again, Justin. I would have put Dimensions at the top of the list, as I think it’s better than the EQ and Wildstar features. But that may be a result of the art style preference too. Heartily agree with everything on your list!