Well here’s something I wasn’t expecting: I downloaded RIFT and rolled a new character this past weekend. By my blog records, I exited the game back in late February and hadn’t felt the pull to return. It wasn’t a bad break-up, just time apart to recharge batteries and see if there would be any future interest. If not, that would be ok. If so, that’s fine as well.
Even with all of the F2P hullabaloo, I wasn’t going to head back there, but once it happened I started to feel like I was missing out on a party in a place I used to frequent all of the time. Then a friend invited me to her guild, and that was that. Re-download.
Even if it’s been just a little over three months since I’ve last been in RIFT, so much has changed. F2P has created a strange, day-one environment where there are scads of people running around, full servers, and chat logs busy with all sorts of basic questions (and, y’know, comparisons to World of Warcraft. I actually made a game: I wouldn’t take a breath until someone mentioned WoW in general chat. I didn’t die for the half-hour I played.).
Another big change is the store. From what I can tell, RIFT’s model is pretty generous to completely free folks. It doesn’t penalize players for not subbing or paying (upon a cursory glance, the only restrictions I saw were three bag slots instead of five and two character slots). The store is absolutely massive to compensate, and I can see Trion going for the carrot instead of the stick with it. There are lockboxes, mounts, pets, outfits (oh boy are there outfits), bags, boosts, the whole nine yards. I need to do more checking into it, because I’m not quite sure how much advantage paying players get here. I suspect that it might be a little more than other F2P offerings, although my worry is that it crosses the “pay to win” barrier.
What I was pleased to discover is that, due to my past subscriptions, I had accrued 20,000 store credits and dozens of additional item rewards due to loyalty tiers. Seriously, I had to buy a few additional bags from the store just to hold all of this stuff upon logging in. Not that I’m complaining. I even got a cool beachside dimension from the get-go.
So I rolled a mage and started on a new journey with no great ambition. I’m just there to see the world and have fun, as long as that lasts. Another big change I saw off the bat was the streamlining of the tutorial (which takes less than half the time it used to) and quest flow in the starting zone. It also seems like I’m leveling a LOT faster than I used to, although with the mentoring system, I can stay at-level for a zone as long as I’m there if I wish. I forgot how much I liked that.
Who knows where this will lead, if anywhere, but right now I’m glad my curiosity prompted the return. RIFT’s always been a good game and I hope that F2P grows the population and extends the title’s lifespan so that it gets the attention it deserves.