So in the spirit of that, we wanted to create a quick-and-dirty guide to some of the important RIFT essentials to help new players (or even older, rustier ones) hit the ground running on March 7th. Here’s everything you need to know about making your way in this fun and frisky MMO!
What is RIFT? Is it just World of Warcraft reskinned?
While there is no doubt that RIFT was heavily influenced in its design by World of Warcraft, the game differs in several aspects, including its dynamic public events, class makeup, and housing.
In RIFT, players are inhabitants of Telara, a planet that has come under assault by various planes that are invading via “rifts.” While there are two factions — the technological Defiants and the spiritual Guardians — both more or less work together to repel the threat and secure the future of the world. In fact, the Defiant intro zone has you start out in the future during a planar apocalypse and then travel back in time to save the world in the present.
Whenever I have to describe RIFT to friends, I say that it’s a very sleek and user-friendly MMO with more features than most of your leading brands, yet it’s been hampered by an unfortunate cash shop business model and fading popularity.
What is the difference between RIFT Prime and the regular servers?
The regular servers are free-to-play (with an optional subscription), contain the full cash shop (for better and for worse), and offer all of the expansions and classes. Players can transfer characters between these servers for free, so there is never a problem hooking up with friends.
RIFT Prime is a progression server that is intentionally limiting the offerings to give more of a legacy “feel.” Players have to subscribe to access it and can only roll up to two characters. Initially there will only be the base game content to explore (no Planestouched Wilds or expansions) and fewer class offerings. During the course of the year-plus that this server will exist, RIFT will gradually unlock its content, although we have yet to hear any solid details or see a schedule of this.
What’s the deal with RIFT’s classes?
The freeform mix-and-match class system is one of RIFT’s hallmarks, but it can be startling when coming from other MMOs. Basically, RIFT has archetypes (Mage, Rogue, Warrior, and Cleric for Prime), and within those archetypes are numerous “souls.” Each soul is, in effect, its own mini-class, and a player can select three of those souls to create a build. From there, players can dump talent points into each of the three trees, specializing or generalizing as desired. To make things even more interesting, players can save different builds and swap between them on the fly.
This system encourages a lot of experimentation and allows players to customize their class to fit their playstyle. Plus, if you get bored, you can just whip up a new build without having to start a new character!
It should be noted that even if you haven’t put a single talent point into a soul, you’ll still get one or two abilities from equipping it. These “zero point” souls can be useful that, and I almost always equip a pet soul to get a free battle companion for the first 24 levels (which is how far a basic pet will level up before it stagnates).
What should I know from the start?
RIFT has a very standard MMO questing setup that should be familiar to most online RPG players, so make sure to follow those exclamation marks for rewards, content unlocks, and XP. A very quick but useful suggestion is to make sure you equip an AoE ability as soon as you can. They’re pretty handy when you face down packs of mobs, and you’ll be doing this a lot.
One of the first things that the game is going to introduce is its dynamic rifts, which can erupt to create various hotspots around the world. Rifts are optional activities that can be accomplished solo or with other players (think public quests) as you progress through a series of phases to seal up the rift. During this, you’ll get a special currency called planarite that can be exchanged for some desirable goods down the line. There are different flavors and types of rifts, and the harder ones will require a group to tackle.
Definitely make sure that you do your quests to get your soul recall ability (which takes you back to a bound point) and unlock any porticulums (transporters) that you come across. Those will assist in rapid travel as you go along.
One other piece of advice is that you should head to your capital city by level 8 or so. It’s good to get the transport there, take the tours, and activate a few quests in the region for some extra services and bonuses.
RIFT has player housing?
Yes it does — in fact, RIFT has one of the best housing systems in the genre! Early on, you’ll run a quick quest to unlock your first (free) dimension. Dimensions are little instances that copy areas in the game, only in these, you can customize them to your heart’s content. It’s a flexible and insanely fun system that has sucked in many players and formed the basis for a dimensioneer sub-community. Other players can come and visit your house and even give you a +1 rating if they like it.
While RIFT’s dimensions don’t have a lot of practical benefit for your adventuring, it is very robust as an entertainment tool. Not only do you have decor to set up, but you can change the time of day, the music, the weather, the plant growth, and even install working elevators and other gadgets.
You can grab as many dimension keys as you like, but you can only have two active at any given time. You’ll get a free port to any active dimensions, so home is only a click away!
What other activities are there?
RIFT has plenty of entertaining rabbit trails to pursue if you want to take a break from questing. There are scads of mounts and pets to collect, as well as a pretty flexible cosmetic wardrobe system that automatically collects the skins of anything you loot (plus, there are two channels of dyes in most pieces).
Artifact collecting is a big deal to some, so keep an eye out for little sparkly glowy bits that fill out sets for fun rewards. There are plenty of achievements, of course, and some of those have rewards attached as well. PvP, dungeon crawling, and mastering the economy are all options on the table. One of my favorite side activities is seeking out and completing the zone puzzle that each area contains. These can be downright tricky, but they’re worthwhile for the change of pace and the unique rewards.
All I’m saying is that I’ve rarely been bored when playing RIFT unless I fell into a rut of my own making. There’s just so much to do here, even in the early game.
This game is a little… odd
The last thing that I want to talk about is the tone of the game. Again, it’s pretty easy to dismiss RIFT as a generic WoW clone, but that does this title a disservice. RIFT can indeed come off as generic fantasy in spots, but don’t be deceived: It’s a very odd game when you actually start paying attention to it.
Telara is not a normal place and the inhabitants aren’t always falling into orderly tropes. You’re going to get a lot of wackadoodle quests, meet bizarre characters, and find that there’s this streak of zany humor that exists all over the place. RIFT has surprised me numerous times with its darker turns and NPC growth, and some of the voice acting is quite affecting.
I guess that I’m relaying this to you as a way to say that it helps to come to this game with as few preconceptions as is humanly possible. RIFT is its own creature and can be a wildly enjoyable one as long as you’re not saddling it with unfair assumptions.
Have fun and see you on Prime!