You Can Play Rift For Free, Now

By Jim Rossignol on May 11th, 2011 at 10:02 am.


For a week, anyway. There’s a 7-day trial up on the main Rift site, which allows you to play the dimension-bleeding fantasy MMO for no pennies. I’ve still not got around to dabbling, but I understand from Dan’s review, and also from a few of you lot who are playing, that it’s one of the more interesting takes on the MMO business of late (despite some issues with the big public events…)

Anyway, go take a look!

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44 Comments »

  1. GenBanks says:

    Will definitely give this a try after my last exam! I hear it’s pretty good.

  2. President Weasel says:

    I’ve been playing it for a while; it’s a well-polished take on the generic MMO. The “soul” system allows you to play several play styles with one character (for example, a ‘rogue’ can play something very similar to WOW Hunter, something very similar to WOW Rogue, bard buff/support class, or tank).
    Unlike several recent MMO launches there’s a decent amount of content and there aren’t a rash of launch bugs. They’ve put time into getting it right and it shows.

    If anything my problem with Rift is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” things: I’m jaded. After a couple of years of WOW raiding, after EQ2, DDO, DAOC… I think I’m bored of MMOs. I don’t want to get sucked into caring about my character or grinding faction or doing daily quests.
    Also, it’s a minor personal niggle, but there is really no death penalty at all – a quick run and respawn leads to an easily affordable ‘repair’ bill. No XP penalty, certainly no risk of losing a hard-won level, no risk at all. Maybe I’m old school, but where there’s no risk it makes the reward feel pointless.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I will second that.
      Been playing for 2 months, cancelled my subscription now. Its a well made polished MMORPG, and devs keep on working on it. On the other hand – its JUST a well made MMORPG, nothing new or exciting to keep me playing.

    • Taargus says:

      Definitely agree with the death penalty quip. It really is a silly thing to gripe about, but there needs to be more to it than just paying a repair angel every 10 deaths. Trion definitely deserves props for the excellent launch and generally bug free experience though.

    • Jumwa says:

      I’ll never understand the desire to be punished in a video game.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Ah Jumwa, next you’ll say you don’t see the appeal of being simultaneously whipped and choked to near death by your mistress…

    • President Weasel says:

      It’s more the desire to be challenged, really. Losing a fight in Everquest while levelling up set you back an appreciable amount of levelling time, and also forced you to burn time and effort making a sometimes risky corpse run to get your stuff back. That meant you wouldn’t go into a fight without checking if it was winnable, looking to see if you had an escape route, checking for likely “adds”… losing a fight in Rift means maybe a minute of running in ghost form and then respawning, and eventually getting around to paying a bill that’s meaninglessly small compared to the amount of gold you earn while levelling.
      Levelling in Everquest was a challenge – sure, it was still mostly about putting time into the game, but it was also about not making stupid mistakes, and about picking your fights well and playing with a wee bit of skill (or finding a good group, which was satisfying in itself). It made a “ding” feel like an achievement.
      Levelling in Rift is entirely about putting some time into the game. Every ding is just a noise and a decision about where to put a skill point. Rift’s far from alone in this; it’s just the game I am playing at the moment so the one in which I am noticing the contrast.

      Also, mobs con higher these days – in my day, a yellow mob was a challenge and even greens could give you a good fight, whereas nowadays to give the illusion that players are awesome and to make levelling easier, yellows and oranges and even elites tend to be eminently killable.

      Also, all the music the young people are listening to these days is terrible. And the policemen are starting to look really young. And I am older than my dentist, which can’t be right. I remember when these MMOs were all fields.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      … I like being being simultaneously whipped and choked to near death by my mistress.

    • Jumwa says:

      The old MMO punishment system for dying was brutal. My precautionary measures to avoid needless deaths were to be very careful, surmise my options, and… cancel the account and never play again.

      Heck, my first death in Rift made me log out of the game and almost quit on the spot. Any inconvenience that eats up my time is enough to make me want to give up.

      I am simply not the gamer I was when I was a kid and Megaman held my attention endlessly, death after death after death.

    • President Weasel says:

      I don’t have the patience for megaman’s “miss a jump by a couple of pixels, do the whole level over again” philosophy, but without some kind of punishment for dying there’s just no incentive to play well. Might as well fire up Progress Quest instead; at least some of the spell names are amusing.

    • Jumwa says:

      I’ve always thought self-improvement was its own reward. However, thinking of the purpose of gaming as “improving your skill” just strikes me as a strange notion for my leisure time anyhow. I game for fun and escapism! I wanna feel powerful and rockin’.

    • trjp says:

      You HAVE to have a penalty for dying or there’s no point in trying to not to die…

      What’s the point of progressing a character if he’s effectively indestructible and unstoppable anyway? Are you playing a game which requires skill or is this just Barbie Orc Adventures? “Dress your Barbie in the latest armour and weapons!!”

      Death penalty should reflect the level of the player and the nature of their play of course. No penalities whilst learning the game, some penalities in exploration (makes it far more interesting), no penalities for losing in PvP (other than the fact you lost!!) and no penalities for dying in a group raid (other than the fact your group is a man down!!)

    • MadMatty says:

      Im definetly leaning towards the MORE PUNISHMENT spectrum myself, atleast for MMO´s (had a great time playing Cargo: Quest for Gravity even tho youre indestructible).
      I remember when i played Counterstrike, losing made you have to wait 3-5 minutes, which made you put your skinny fists like antennaes to heaven when it happened, and it realy put the Pressure on when it was time to play actively again.
      I miss that a lot.

      Gonna try Rift out since i´m allready in the mood for some chillaxing, looking at the puuurty graphics…. usually playing a bit before going to sleep. Right now when im up and fresh, i prefer something more taxing/penalizing, like Red Orchestra (that´ll make veins bulge in your forehead) or GRiD without the time-rewind option.

      I prefer a solid flogging from my mistress and maybe a bit of stomping in the crouch.
      I´m that hard.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I wouldn’t even use the world “challenge”, I’d say “a reason to switch on your brain.” If you can just plod along and mash keys, then it really is little more than Progress Quest. Same thing with quest arrows. If you don’t *require* my attention and thought, my level of engagement/immersion drops to zero.

      I’m not a fan of big XP penalties on death, but I need *some* reason to care.

    • trjp says:

      For me, the best bit of MMOs is exploring the world (and by virtue, the best MMO is WoW because it’s world was the most explorable and interesting, although many say that’s no longer true).

      If all that was required to achieve that was a persistance in the face of being killed – but being able to resurrect without any loss of progress – why would I bother? It’s a game with infinite lives!?

      My vivid memories of WoW are of being lost, of narrowly avoiding death from nasty monsters, of venturing into dangerous country in search of daft things (like psychedelic coloured pets) etc.etc.

      I gave-up WoW mainly because everyone else WAS playing it as Barbie Orc Adventures with some sort of personal ego ‘ladder’ in the form of PvP arenas as a side-attraction :(

    • valient says:

      OMG you said what we all thinking…. anyways as an old school mmo player i feel the same way on one hand we were completely spoiled by WoW and hate to get punish in any way, but i can see how playing mmo has become less challenging as time goes by and when we use to feel really proud of killing a boss, now we are excited for about 2 mins and move on. I miss the old Evercrack feeling of doing something great.

    • Zarunil says:

      MMOs have to be challenging for me to subscribe.

      In the early days of Lineage 2, dieing meant losing XP and random items from your inventory. You could potentially lose hours of XP, and items that you worked weeks for, so I had to be very careful and pick my fights. It made the game interesting. Your actions always had consequences.

      I need a challenge, otherwise the game becomes uninteresting and boring, which is why I don’t play WoW and certain other casual MMOs.

      I will try Rift, but my impression is that it is easymode.

    • Kdansky says:

      I’ve been preaching this for quite some time now:

      MMOs are not so much games as they are TV, powered by repeatedly pressing buttons.

      Think about it. In WoW-Cataclysm, you can literally roll your face on your keyboard and will still easily be able to win any fight versus an equal-level mob. It’s not about the challenge any more, it’s just TV: Sitting there, passively consuming content.

    • Wozzle says:

      You’ve put my sentiments much more elegantly.

      The thing that got me, is the combat system. It’s basically a clone of WoW’s. Not that is neccessarily bad, it’s just that the formula can’t really be improved much more and I’m so, so sick of it.

      Good game, but I’m sick of it.

  3. Longrat says:

    Ten bux that this game goes F2P by the end of 2012.

    • Hallgrim says:

      It seems like every MMO that isn’t WoW is going to go f2p. Doesn’t mean the game is bad.

      Rift is head and shoulders above any MMO I can think of that was released in the last 5 years. I’ll include WAR in that, since Rift doesn’t seem to have crippling graphics problems.

      That said, like someone else already pointed out, it’s gameplay isn’t that much different from WoW. It felt a whole lot like a game I’d already sunk thousands of hours into.

  4. GoliathBro says:

    I played this for a bit, and really loved it, but then I noticed the god awful environments. The characters and mobs look sweet, the animations and effects are top notch, but there’s that castle thing not far from one of the starter areas, I got on the top floor and looked out… Ouch, so much ugliness. Just empty space.

    After that I really noticed, and I completely ruined the game for me. When you look up from whatever you’re doing and see the world as a whole, it’s just terribly drab. WoW has done a wonderful job of covering it up with extremely well designed areas and excellent use of foliage, but here it’s just in your face. Least it was for me.

    • jealouspirate says:

      It’s funny, I found the exact opposite. I really loved the environments but thought the characters models were boring and the combat animations terrible.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      you should mind-melt somehow. One of you would end up loving every piece of the game, the other one would just hate it.

    • The Promised Landt says:

      And what the internet really needs are people who love every single thing about a game, and people who hate every single thing about a game

  5. Silver says:

    last patch is awful. Game is so boring now. they downgraded bosses etc :/ now everyone (dumb ones too) can raid etc., before u needed brains + nice group.

  6. Rii says:

    I got halfway through the sign-up process before going ‘wait, what the hell am I doing?’

  7. trjp says:

    problem is, I suspect ‘overcrowded’ is more than 1 or 2 games of each type and getting people away from those games is seriously hard.

    Rift made no effort to do ANYTHING new – they arguably took WoW’s original approach of being derivative but polishing that to a high-gloss shine.

    Problem is, that resulted in them making a game which feels like vanilla WoW with a nicer UI – which isn’t a brilliant thing to spend a lot of money achieving 5 years late…

    At least Aion has the flying thing…

  8. gorgol says:

    Thank for the heads up! :) Will try this WoW contender.

  9. MadMatty says:

    Actually, just installing free-to-play Lord of the Rings, so i might get stuck with that for a wee bit. LOTRO is actually the WoW engine, but i think the user-interface guys working on LOTRO has one-upped WoW in polish since they released.
    Good MMO, but sadly lacking in open world PvP- but wth…. i started playing WoW again on the PvP server after Cataclysm, got my rogue up to level 50 and I HAVENT YET MET A SINGLE PLAYER OPPONENT coz theyre all in the late game….*sigh*

  10. Rii says:

    I would hope that it means their servers are no longer struggling to meet demand and nothing more. There’s no reason why MMOs shouldn’t offer free trials as a matter of course outside the immediate launch window when demand vs. capacity is very much up-in-the-air.

  11. neofit says:

    “these offerings so close to release usually mean that the servers are quickly turning into ghost towns”

    Which is to be expected. This is the first game where I managed to bring a character to the top level of 50, plus 3 others to around 20, and reach the top level of 300 in 3 crafts (and was doing dailies on 4 chars every day I logged on), all during the free month. OK, I admit that I played the headstart too. As a comparison, I played WoW at release, and with more free time on my hands I played for 4 months and only brought my main to 48/60 and 3 toons to around 20.

    I did everything I could not to level too fast: only one run per dungeon (of which there are roughly 1 per 10 levels per side until you reach 50; a dungeon run nets you basically one level, so you outlevel a questing hub), did minimal rifting with the main, no grinding for crafting mats, zero PvP, etc., but to no avail. And Rift is not LOTRO which has about 4 times the quests and exp needed to level a character. There is not much more than 50 levels worth of exp in PvE quests, per side.

    Then at 50 you are supposed to replay the same dungeons again and again. Instanced ones to boot. Not my cup of tea. And it’s not only me from what I am reading. The souls/roles system and the rifts are a great addition, but not enough when you barely have a month worth of content in your game.

  12. alilsneaky says:

    I was in the beta for this and it’s as cookie cutter and bland as they come.
    Not sure why the article claims it’s an interesting take.

    Wow + warhammer PQs + worse performance + the worst colors and bland environments = rift.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s all true, except it performed very well for me and looked pretty gorgeous (technically). It can’t be compared to the atrocious performance of Warhammer online!

  13. DrGonzo says:

    I’m one of those few but I’ve stopped well before my free month ended. I still have 15 days left but no urge to go back.

    The graphics are very good, but the designs are so bland it’s uninteresting. The story is actually quite well done, but I don’t want to read giant walls of text!

    It has nothing over WoW other than an inferior art style as far as I can tell. I realise I didn’t get far enough in to judge a lot of it, and there are some interesting differences. But I didn’t enjoy those first few hours.

    I would go back to my WoW account, but it has been locked, their demands for me to reopen it are unrealistic and I can’t provide all those details so it’s lost forever now, as is my Guild Wars account :(

  14. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Wow, that was deadly dull. I created a mage of the obligatory evil faction, made it through the newbie zone and slightly further before giving up at level 10.

    I genuinely don’t understand the claims of “polish”. In what way? Am I missing something because my GPU can only handle the medium settings? Everything is exactly like WoW, except WoW has more personality. Oh, the multi-subclassing system is kinda neat. The limit on number of crafting professions is infuriating, as usual.

    I’m sure it gets better later on. But the early experience is thoroughly average as far as MMORPGs go, which means I couldn’t even be bothered to keep idly mashing buttons while listening to a podcast.

    FFS, it’s actually made me nostalgic for WoW. I never liked the game, but I’ll always have a little bit of affection for the (pre-Cataclysm) dwarf/gnome starter areas. That was well done.

    • Blackseraph says:

      I agree, I tried it a bit. Found it quite dull, perhaps I just don’t enjoy MMORPGS anymore, last time I actually paid about one was anarchy online 5 years ago.

      Honestly I have tried some free to play MMOs at times, rift seemed exactly same as them, only difference is that you must pay monthly fees for it. There is just too much fighting in MMOs for me and nothing else it seems.

  15. Torgen says:

    I played one day in the beta, for a few hours. Firstly, I was *extremely* disappointed that the “tech” side was merely the same fantasy trope with different player models. The open world rift battles is a neat idea, and the ability to switch specialties to fill different roles is an awesome idea. But, much like another MMO I’m testing right now, in Rift, you felt like a butcher in an abbatior, rather than a hero risking life and limb. Perhaps this was because the starter area was so crowded, that the mobs didn’t have much a chance to reach threatening numbers.

    I think perhaps, I’m just “over” the theme park style of MMOs. Ultima Online as it was originally, Everquest, heck even Wurm Online was more engaging to me than the current crop of games.

    I’m back to playing City of Heroes, as I can set my difficulty for each character to the point where it’s touch and go whether I will die or not. (currently running a martial arts/super reflex scrapper at “even level/x8 normal mob spawn.” Of course, no penalty other than miniscule xp loss here either, but playing a comic book character seems to make the “theme park” setting a bit less onerous.

    • Premium User Badge Arathain says:

      While I think I’m done with City of Heroes (it’s not you, it’s me. I’ll always love you CoH) the thing that would tempt me back is having a couple of characters who can do that spawn-a-level-for-8-players-just-for-me thing (Electric Melee/Fire Armour Brute, Dark/Darkity/Dark Defender). Good grief, but that’s fun. It’s plain spoiled me for MMOs that only let me fight one or two things at a time, like Rift here. Aren’t I supposed to be a hero? Bring on a dozen at least and then we can talk.

    • Torgen says:

      There are well-known scrapper and brute builds that run missions set for 8 people FOUR levels over their heads. They aren’t *that* expensive to build, either. Oh, and SS/FA brute actually edges out ELM/FA brute for fire farms. You’d be surprised how far you could get (and how rich) in a weekend with the right AE mission. PM me in the forums if you come back, I’m on Virtue, and can give you a leg up, redside.

      Also, the end game raids (which I haven’t tried yet) are totally different than the rest of the game, and the Incarnate System gives up to three level boosts over the cap.

      (I’m done with the hijack now.)

  16. pazmacats says:

    I don’t understand why things like Guild Wars excellent “I am using X on Y”, “I am under the effect of XY” system is not shamelessly copied in each and every multitplayer-game.

    Apart from that I had problems setting up a stable connection to the game (random disconnects etc.) but the support did absolutely nothing for any of the users who had contributed to a 50++ pages thread dealing with the subject on their own forums.

    So … I am going to order some ncsoft shares now.

  17. Rii says:

    Testing