When I re-installed RIFT this past month, I knew I was setting myself up for heartache. It is, after all, one of my all-time favorite MMOs, and it kills me to see it languishing under the neglected oversight of Gamigo. But I’ve also missed it terribly, and I don’t feel it’s a wasted opportunity to play a game before its time is done.[AL:Rift]That said, my return to RIFT has seen night after night of delightful rediscoveries. It wasn’t just the iconic features — soul trees, dimensions, artifacts — that were pleasing but the smaller details as well. When MMOs take time to do even small things right, it can make a huge difference. So I thought I’d champion 10 of these oft-overlooked details today.
Your character’s head turns toward target
Hey, I said that these would be small details! One thing you’ll quickly notice about your character in the game is that if you target a mob, NPC, or other player character, your own avatar’s head will automatically turn to look at it even if you move around. It might sound silly, but I always felt that this made my character seem more engaged with the world rather than detached from it.
Rift, foothold, and invasion landscape changes
RIFT’s defining “dynamic world” system is still really cool to see in motion, with rifts appearing in the sky and invasions marching across the land. But what I always liked the most is how the very landscape in these areas would be taken over with terrain that matched the type of plane involved. Seeing it grow — and then recede — across the ground never fails to be fascinating to me.
UI setting imports
RIFT has so many features that I always thought should become industry standard, and this is one of them. I love that you can set up one character with all of the options and UI layout that you like, save it to a template, and then instantly apply that to any other character. When I logged in the other week to make a new character, I was able to apply UI settings that I saved probably five or so years ago. Amazing.
This MMO has scads and scads of little vanity pets, and each is more delightful than the last. The art team at Trion clearly put a lot of work into them, because each seems to have fun little animations simply to amuse the owner. I’ll never get tired of my Ducklar’s waddling dance!
Free and instant server switching
Hey, speaking of features that should be standard everywhere, how about the fact that RIFT let’s you jump your character to a new server when you want and doesn’t charge you for it? Sure, these days most everyone is playing the same two shards, but I still think this is a wonderful detail that doesn’t get enough praise.
Toggles for HUD and names making for great screenshots
Maybe you’re not the screenshotting type, but I am, and there’s nothing more frustrating than an MMO that makes it difficult to get a clean picture without UI elements. RIFT goes one step beyond your typical MMO by altering its HUD on/off switch to include a third keypress that yanks away any floating text above character and mob heads. It’s very no-fuss, and I appreciate that.
Easy peasy wardrobes
When the topic of MMO cosmetic outfit systems arises, it’s always a dire crime if RIFT isn’t mentioned among these. Quite simply, it has everything you’d want in such a system. The game automatically collects new weapon and gear skins you loot into the outfitter, you can dye elements, save multiple outfits, change your weapon type (visually), and switch on the fly.
Guild rally points
I always thought it was a great feature to allow guild members to have flags that they could plant down in the game world which would allow for other guildies to teleport to that spot. It’s a terrific way to rally people together quickly for world bosses, rifts, or even an impromptu party.
Not only does RIFT have one of the absolute best housing systems on the market — and I’ll die on that hill — but has a nifty little system to encourage players to visit each other’s dimensions. If you’re really impressed with someone’s creativity, you can even give them a little +1 vote to be added to a tally. It makes for a quick way to find the highest-rated dimensions on the server.
A fun sense of humor
There are plenty of other little details I could add, but I wanted to end this list by pointing out that RIFT is, in truth, a funny game. It’s got a quirky sense of humor that runs rampant through its quests, mob design, quotes, and even item tooltips. If you slow down to see it, you’ll be knocked over by the tongue-in-cheek references that the devs put everywhere.