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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Travis Laborde

Yeah those are all great things.

The wardrobe system is completely better than I’ve seen in any other game at all. The fact that it remembers everything you’ve ever had, so you can choose to “wear it” again whenever you want. Perfect. Now, I wish there were more or better cosmetic things to GET, the way it manages you keeping those to wear again later is hands down the best ever.

I was a little sad you didn’t mention the rifts themselves or the zone invasions. I mean, this is where the game gets its name from. And it is totally great. Rift isn’t my favorite game ever, but I will tell you one of my top 5 moments in any MMO is standing there trying to defend a wardstone alone in a zone invasion. It adds so much to the normal questing experience.

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Humble DG

Great features for sure but Prime is not interesting and it doesn’t seem to be for any one in my guild either.

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agemyth 😩

This is a great list of great features this game should get more credit for. They were the first of the traditional server/shard based games that didn’t put server transfers behind a pay wall and that was amazing for sticking with friends and maintaining a happy endgame raid community. Not progression raider myself (love me some LFR), but my brother and his friends were in the top 50 progression raiding guilds in vanilla Rift for at least a few months. The ease with which the server transfer system allowed them to recruit and move around to where the raid scene needed them to be was critical to keeping them around for as long as it did.

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Crowe

Those are 10 features that do indeed make Rift stand out and why I gone back to play it in the past. However, Trion seems to be actively trying to make their customers unhappy while pushing the cash store and offering P2W options. The livestreams seem to show devs that are uncomfortable being on cam and even after a major patch delay (much needed for the content/feature incomplete last expansion), the devs on camera kept talking about wanting to leave the stream for happy hour. They just don’t appear to have sufficient staff to manage their game. And now with the Prime server, they are adding things that will require further development attention. It just doesn’t bode well for the game’s future. It wasn’t a real consideration for me though — how they launched and initially handled Starfall Prophecy just struck me as a rush for a cash grab to launch before the holidays.

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Alex Malone

I probably would have played this game when it launched, I just couldn’t get past the IP. It’s just always looked like the tacky 80s fantasy style to me and I hate that style. Like the old Dragon Lance or Forgotten Realms book covers.

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Boom

You leave Jeff Easley alone!! :D

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flyingltj

Instanced housing is where the poor lived in Asheron’s Call. Puzzles pale in comparison to figuring out how to complete quests on your own with lore and experience your only tools. You could switch your character build around once a week for free.

I mean I can go on and on and explain how your points of praiseworthy features were/would be considered junky and inferior in an MMO from the 1990s… but I’m feeling my words would be lost. Enjoy your lock boxes.

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Matt Redding

The zone puzzles are a lot better than they might sound. They reward players for exploring zones and are often located in very out of the way places like mountain tops or hidden areas. Additionally in the launch area every zone had a cairn of a historical hero which would once per character dispense a piece of level appropriate dungeon-grade gear. The big lake you could swim across actually had several (5 or 7? It’s foggy) hidden on both the lake bed and extremely deep trenches criss-crossing it; and was itself sort of a puzzle because each chest granted you a few more minutes of underwater breathing buff.

In short, the game gave you a reason to explore and it actually used its space well. At least at launch.

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Coolit

Rift was a brilliant game when it launched, it really did feel like the full package and it was technically ahead of the competition in many regards. I remember being amazed at the soul tree customization in chocolate rift and that you could have more than two soul templates saved which at the time its competition couldn’t do.

Trions biggest mistake was they moved their focus away from Rift onto other games and eventually their reputation was massively damaged by Archeage and its P2W business model which has sadly seeped into the current Rift store.

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Sylph Moon

4. No updated/new intrepid version and can’t select specific areas.
7. There are only a very small handful of viable builds.
Cosmetics is the best one on the list. I’m looking forward to see how ESO does their.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that RNG is totally out of control

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Aldristavan

I agree with each & every one of these, Justin. I resubbed in anticipation of Prime coming out and I’ve been having fun again in IAs!

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Boom

I returned to Rift end of last November & its gradually ramped up to being the only game im playing near everyday. (Im lying to myself there IT IS EVERYDAY)
I get why Trion has received a lot of flak for various decisions in its titles but after my love/hate relationship with Funcom & AoC it just doesnt do you any good being bitter about that stuff so either lump the parts that irk you or move on.

Thats a great list up there & highlights so many positive aspects of the game its amazing that it gets sidelined so quickly. Im not gushing over all of it, Instant adventures for example are one of my bugbears & although they are a great quick fix feel they detract from the lower levels. They could use a rework so that maybe the majority of the IA quests take place in the lower level zones to give new players a sense of the world being alive.
Seeing groups of players running about adventuring might give people that push to hang in there for a few more levels.

As mentioned by others also dimensions could use a little functionality but apart from that theyre great & the game throws stuff at you for them rather than locked behind a huge grind or paywall.
The wardrobe/vanity system is just BRILLIANT, unlocking the pieces account wide for all types of gear & being able to mix/match what you want is probably the best out there. Mage wearing full plate? You got it. It really is something to shout about when in so many other games its a convoluted mess of yays & nays.

Overall I feel that Rift has suffered because of Trions mistakes with other games & often credibility/reputation has been rock bottom. Ive thrown rocks myself so cant plead innocence but Rift definitely deserves another look & I hope that with the renewed interest garnered from the Prime announcement that they make solid decisions going forward.