Because It Is The Way Of Things, RIFT Now Free To Play

By John Walker on June 13th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

They said it would happen in the ancient texts of May 2013, and lo, it has come to pass. RIFT, the previously not free MMO is now a free MMO. And they promise “no trials, no tricks and no traps.”

The promise here is that there’s no “pay to win” at all. The game’s creative director, Bill Fisher, explains:

“The aim is to keep free and paid players on the same level — this is not pay-to-win. Players will see key differences between RIFT and other MMOs that have adopted free-to-play: we don’t restrict content, and we don’t offer pay-to-win items.”

Instead, it seems, they’re just going to charge for fiddly stuff. So a much enlarged in-game store will now ask for money in exchange for mounts, pets, “boosts” (which can’t be that boosty if his statement is true), and the like. But they re-emphasise that “the best gear” must be found by playing.

This coincides with the 2.3 update, Empyreal Assault, which adds a new zone – Dendrome – new raids, bosses, etc. You know the stuff. Here’s the trailer that’s excited about all that.

Not being a RIFT player, it’s hard to tell from the claims what a difference this’ll make to the game, and why current subscribers would want to carry on paying. If you’re a RIFT player, let us know your experiences.

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26 Comments »

  1. Grey Poupon says:

    ““boosts” (which can’t be that boosty if his statement is true) ”

    When is that statement ever truly true? Apart from Dota 2 and HoN I guess.

    • Grygus says:

      I think it depends on your definition of “pay to win.” Is an experience boost “pay to win”? You don’t get any advantage at all in terms of combat ability in any given fight, or in terms of gathering/crafting. It makes your time slightly more valuable, which makes it worthwhile to some people, but doesn’t mean you can’t trounce them in PvP or out-DPS them in PvE, so a lot of people won’t consider it “pay to win.”

      How about a non-combat mount, which does basically the same thing (increases value of time spent, this time by reducing travel time); is that “pay to win”?

      Someone will inevitably reply yes to both of these; I do not mean them to be objective examples of success. But I think it’s possible to give people the feeling of having an advantage without being “pay to win” in most people’s minds.

      • Continuum says:

        There are two major commodities people put in to MMOs… time and money.

        the traditional subscription model fixes the money part of the equation and spends all it’s time jacking around with the time part of the equation through rep/token grind systems and random drop %s.

        Decent F2P systems basically create an interchange between time and money where people who have more money can spend more money and people who have more time can spend more time.

        An experience boost is a direct money to time trade, so it all depends on what you see as a pay to win state. Raids created difficult y and repetition primarily through coordination difficulty and random drop %.

        I agree with Rift’s stance on not making the top end gear available via monetary purchase, but it really boils down to people’s perception of opportunity cost. The entire sub system in F2P Rift is based around paying money to accelerate time investment, rather than a somewhat more standard F2P sub system of paying to access more in game resources and receiving a store stipend.

  2. lowprices says:

    So I’ve been thinking of dipping my toe in MMO waters for some time. I don’t want to be paying a subscription fee and I don’t have all the time in the world to grind. So my thoughts are either this, Neverwinter, or Guild Wars2 (TheMarySue described it as the friendliest MMO, but it costs money to start with).

    Thoughts?

    • Grygus says:

      I think RIFT is a good place to start. It’s completely free, has many of the nicest features of Guild Wars 2, and has a pretty guided experience. The class system is flexible and relatively complex, but you can choose a Role (e.g., I want to be a tanking Rogue) at the start that will guide you in spending talent points until you decide that you have a handle on things and go your own way. The basic gameplay is fairly simple, linear, and quest-driven, so you aren’t ever wondering where you should go next. The free-to-play implementation has incredibly few restrictions, so you can make whatever class/race combo you wish, and the character customization is one of the better ones in the genre.

      I’m not saying this is the best MMO ever made – Guild Wars 2 is arguably better – but it is very good, might be the friendliest to newcomers, and you can just download it and check it out with no risk at all. I like Neverwinter too, but RIFT is necessarily deeper since it’s older.

    • RedWurm says:

      It’s been a while since I played rift, but from what I remember it had good and bad points. The combat was very traditional ability hot bar clickyness, although it had an effective macro system that could reduce some builds down to a couple of buttons. The character building itself was certainly interesting, but was not quite as flexible as it looked at first glance, especially if you want an effective build for raiding. The much-copied rift events made things a bit less predictable during the level grind, and although they could be bloody annoying at times, they can also very occasionally be brilliant fun.

      So. Neverwinter might be worth a try because even if you get bored with it, it probably won’t take all that long. GW2 is very good, especially for casual play, (and the combat is great for an MMO) but if you really get into it you should be aware that there isn’t that much depth to the PvE (although the PvP is pretty good, started a bit thin on content but it was getting better). Rift is quite a traditional MMO underneath some of its features, but since it was subscription for so long it has a hell of a lot of content. Now it’s free, I’d say it’s probably worth a look.

    • Continuum says:

      It really depends on what you’d prefer. IMO, Rift has hands down the deepest class system. If you like tinkering with builds, Rift is probably the greatest fantasy RPG ever for build tinkering.

      Rift is very much locked in to the standard tank/healer/DPS model. The plus is that there is a lot of overlap in how these roles are filled – clerics can fill any role, fighters can do anything but heal, mages can do anything but tank, rogues can tank and DPS and support heal but not quite main heal harder content. It all depends on which soul and talent point combinations you use, and you can have five or more different combos.

      GW2 basically gives everybody a self-heal. You’re locked in to a limited 7-8 active skill loadout and there is nowhere near as much potential class customization as Rift. But its also much easier to tackle most content because it’s not as sensitive to group composition.

      Both GW2 and Rift have a lot of open world content and variations on open world events in addition to more standard quests. GW2′s is more seamless with no need to even form groups, but Rift makes it really simple to move in and out of various public groups that form and disband pretty fluidly.

      Others may disagree with me, but GW2 is a much better PvP game. The huge variety and potential complexity of the Rift soul system makes PvP balance virtually impossible. There are a lot of people who enjoy PvP in Rift, but I would characterize it as a PvE-centric game, which is what I enjoy. Both have tons of open world PvE content and neither forces you in to unwanted PvP.

      I find Rift a lot more enjoyable for the most part, but in the end in Rift you end up running the same dungeons and the same raids over and over again, you have dailies that become like chores, etc. and I burn out. Raiding is too much like a job. GW2, I just plain got bored with the PvE, even thought there’s a lot that I really liked about it.

      Neverwinter, I can’t say so much. I tried it briefly… it is very rough around the edges but has some promising aspects… the available five classes are pretty limited for something drawing on the huge D&D class/race system. I think Neverwinter will succeed or fail on the user created content. But it’s way to early to say.

      Certainly there is a LOT more content in Rift and GW2 since they are larger, more established MMOs that have been adding content pretty steadily.

      Hope that all helped some.

      • lowprices says:

        Welp, you’ve made them all sound good, which means ultimately I’m not much closer to a decision. Thanks anyway, guys/gals/other-delete-as-appropriate!

        I think I’ll probably try Neverwinter first. From John’s adventures I at least know there’s an RPS guild to hold my hand and provide reassuring yet nonliteral hugs if I’m rubbish.

      • aliksy says:

        No other MMO comes close to GW2. Hell, GW2′s gameplay felt like it could work as a single player game (albeit a lonely one without all the other players). Most MMOs do not.

        I’d still be playing it but I disgust-quit when the developers started to focus more on gear and progression.

    • paddymaxson says:

      I wholly recommend Dungeons and Dragons Online. Strictly speaking, it’s possible to do very well in that game without paying a penny (as you can grind the currency that you would normally use real money to buy). Most of the buyable classes are unlockable (though the races aren’t) and if you pay real money even once you become premium (bonuses shown here: http://ddowiki.com/page/Account_comparisons ).

      I honestly couldn’t tell you how long it takes to grind adventure packs etc because I am an avid lover of the game and have chosen to pay. I know it’s certainly possible to unlock several paid for adventure packs in a matter of hours (your first 5 reputation ground on each server – so 2 quests on elite difficulty) gives 50 Turbine points and there are 6 servers.

      • aliksy says:

        Oh, yes. DDO is actually surprisingly good. I’d like it a lot more except I kind of don’t like D&D 3e at all, so that always cut down my interest after a while. But I like how most everything is a dungeon with its own secrets and goals. Much better than the “go kill 10 rats” bullshit.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      GW2 might require you to buy it, but out of that list I’d have to say it’s by far the best. I tried Rift (first in the beginning, and now with it F2P) and I really can’t stomach playing it for long. Uninstalled it again after having downloaded it to try out. It just seems really bland. Like a mediocre WoW game. I’d even rather play Neverwinter over Rift.

  3. Bashmet says:

    Sounds good. It’s not P2W as long as you can’t manage to turn your real life money into in-game currency.

  4. seanas says:

    I’m a current Rift subscriber (now patron, I guess) along with my wife. She’s not worried about F2P, she’s doing her normal raiding thing; me on the other hand, I’m somewhat aggrieved by the whole thing and haven’t played much since the F2P announcement.

    I’m aggrieved because we’re both subscribed until October, and it seems like that money is down the drain: the patron bonuses really are insignificant: they’re on par with Veteran’s reward potions that long term subscribers always got; but now available to all subscribers more frequently. All my charcters have bags full of unused Veteran’s reward potions, so new patron potions don’t rock my boat. I received a one-off stipend of credits to cover my existing subscription, but the amount of the stipend isn’t anywhere near what I’ve already paid for, and in the meantime I’m being exhorted to pay more pay more! I feel like: before you start asking me to buy new stuff, why not give me what I’ve already paid for? I’m sure the feeling will pass, but yeah.. at the moment I’m a not-happy Rift subscriber-turned-patron.

    As for the update, from what I’ve seen it IS significant: not just a lot of new content, but also a big graphical improvement. So in terms of content: yeah, it’s good. You can actually play the game for free (I seriously doubt we will bother re-subscribing when the pre-paid sub time elapses in October; it just seems unnecessary), and that’s good; it’ll bring huge numbers of people in, and that’s very good. It’s just that, as someone who’s invested quite a lot of time and money into Rift over the last two years, I’m feeling a bit burned.

  5. bstard says:

    Among all the MMO’s I’ve played/tried, Rift was remarkably good designed, interesting class systems, and yet it was so mindbendingly boring while playing.

    • Phendron says:

      That’s what held me back from enjoying the game. Questing is the the most depressing page-boy antics you come to expect from this genre.

      World events, like rifts and invasions are pretty entertaining at least.

    • Bashmet says:

      Yeah, I felt the same way, especially for the end game. The dungeons were so full of silly gimmicks, hard to take the game seriously at all.

  6. skyturnedred says:

    I installed Rift a few days ago to prepare for this and to my surprise I could play it even before the F2P-patch went live. It’s still the same game I remember. It’s a very basic MMO in its combat/quest mechanics, but it’s all done so well you don’t mind it. Rifts are still fun, and people group up to deal with the bigger invasions. The class system is deep, and I love how I can do anything with my cleric – dungeon queues are so fast when you can queue for every slot.

    While the dungeons revolve around the holy trinity of tank/dps/healer, people often forget the additional slot for support. 5-man dungeons consists of a tank, healer, two damage dealers and a support. Of course, supports often deal mostly damage, but they also buff, debuff, heal etc.

    My favourite style to play, as it reminds me of vanilla WoW, where I already filled that role with my feral druid. I would start as dps, switch to tank if necessary, and help with heals when needed.

    As for the free-to-play aspect, I barely noticed anything but cosmetic stuff available for real money. The souls (“talent trees”) that came with the expansion, Storm Legion, aren’t available to new players. I never bought the expansion, but I seem to have access to them, which is nice.

  7. SuicideARG says:

    For what i have seen so far, if you ever owned rift and the expansion, you are not limited in any way. If you are a new player you get fewer character and bag slots.

    The main diffrence is that now more items are avaiable for actual money, mostly cosmetical and convenience stuff (like mounts), and most of these can be adquired using in-game currency, and if not, they offer a lot of alternatives just as useful (for example, you may not be able to get THAT 110% movement speed mount wth in-game, but there are another 10 models for you to get)

    So far, doing good

  8. Soldancer says:

    I’m glad to see so many positive comments on Rift, as I absolutely love the game as a casual player. I’ve been a subscriber contiually since launch, and there is so much content that I haven’t even seen it all and have yet to be bored with the things there are to do. I’ve played EQII and WoW, and Rift is by far my favorite of “traditional” hotbar style MMOs.

    Just to help put things into perspective about how good the game is and how much people have been supporting it: It took about six months or less for both The Secret World and The Old Republic to go F2P, which are two of the higher-profile subcription MMOs released in recent momory. Rift took over 2 years. In these days, that a LONG time for a game to work on a subscription model if it’s not called EVE or WoW.

  9. skyturnedred says:

    The game seems to have a lot of new players, my server has a two hour queue at the moment. First time I’ve ever queued in Rift.

  10. CaptainHairy says:

    Free to play in Rift: mostly an OK thing. I have a couple of quibbles, and honestly I was fine paying a sub for the game, but by and large it’s one of the better free MMOs. I’ve tried Tera, but when 10-15% of the items I got dropped for me were lockboxes that can be opened only with real money, and most of the shop stuff was grossly overpriced, I didn’t stay too long. Also all the Elins were starting to creep me out.

    Most of the fluff stuff in Rift costs less than £5, and the gear with stats on it is pretty expensive and not as good as tier 1 raid gear, so it’s almost exclusively going to be for people fast-gearing alts or people with waaaay too much money.

    The only thing that irks me a little in all this (and it doesn’t really have any bearing on me as I don’t use the feature) is that some of the new Dimension items are grossly overpriced for in-game currency (basic building blocks costing dozens of platinum each, etc). Some of the dimension fans are pretty riled about what they (pretty justifiedly) see as predation on their goodwill towards the company.

    Oh, and server queues aren’t fun, but they’ll die down.

  11. DrMcCoy says:

    Okay, I just now tried it for a few hours…
    And I’m completely overwhelmed. Not in a good way.

    Wherever I look, there’s thousands of NPCs giving out quests. Kill 10 of those, 5 of these and 12 of those things. Collect 4 of these. Heal 5 wounded soldiers. Click on 4 of structures on the ground. Here, have a fishing rod and fish. Explore dimensions.

    And then a group event starts and everyone around me is suddenly in a group with me.
    And then another group even starts. I’m in 2 groups now.
    A third one. The first stops existing. Coincidence? I have no idea.

    I finish a quest and get 2 more. I finish another quest and get another 2.
    I’m level 7 and my hotbar is stuffed with useless junk abilities I never use.

    I’m being stoned to death by thousands of things to do. I feel like a 5 year old with ADHD in a field filled with butterflies. At the same time, clowns are throwing pies at me. Mines are going of in the distance. Fireworks in the sky. Maybe an earthquake thrown in too.

    Amazingly, with all these distractions and flashing and jttering, I’m also completely dead bored. There’s no substance at all: the story is your generic big evil, the quests feel like randomly generated nonsense and the combat is never challenging.

    EDIT: If other people have fun with this, more power to them, of course. It’s so not for me, though.

    • skyturnedred says:

      Since you can combine your souls however you want, all three souls come with some basic attacks, while you mostly end up using one soul’s basic attacks, since that is where you put your soul points.