RIFT: You can’t fight prophetic predictions of your return

I am nothing if not a predictable sucker for the siren’s call of MMO expansions, especially in past favorite games of mine. Just the news of them is exciting and serves to rouse the community and call the old faithful back into service.

Two weeks ago, RIFT wasn’t even on my play radar. Now I’m happily logging in every night. It’s a sickness. It’s a love.

MMO studios that have given up on expansions, please take note of this case study. Even major RIFT updates didn’t pull me back into the game. Sure, they might be great for those already there, but you need something big and flashy to really arrest the attention. When I got the advance heads-up that RIFT: Starfall Prophecy would be coming out this fall, I felt excited for the game itself and personally tempted to jump back in.

I mean, good on Trion Worlds for not giving up on MMOs or splashy expansions. These days it feels like so many studios are rolling over on developing new titles and pumping up support for the traditional MMO, but not Trion. Say what you will about the studio — and oh boy, everyone certainly has — it still has an obvious passion for the genre.

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So let’s talk Starfall Prophecy for a minute. I honestly didn’t expect a third expansion for the game, as Nightmare Tide kind of flopped and it’s been a good while since NT came out. If nothing else, Starfall Prophecy is RIFT standing up and reminding people that there’s a solid game here that often gets overlooked.

I could have used a new race or two (still the same six? C’mon, Trion…) and the studio’s focus for souls is more in revamping them right now than adding more, but the feature list is pretty intriguing. Big reset button, levels 65-70, new ways to customize gear, looking for raid, ongoing rift assaults, five new zones, and so on. The new legendary powers is a cool way to add more customization to builds.

I’ve already pre-ordered my virtual box (standard edition). There’s an interesting promotion going on that once you do so, you get special currency every day you log in from now to the expansion that can unlock various bonus rewards. Artifact hunting squirrel? Yeah, should be amazing.

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Originally the plan was for me to dust off one of my old characters and continue to take them up to the current level cap. However, after a night of that, I felt like a fresh start was needed to get back into the game and prep for the expansion (which shouldn’t be for months at least, if Trion’s pre-order promotion and promise of dev diary rollouts are any indications).

So I rolled up a new Rogue, Crickety, and started speed-leveling her like crazy. Let me tell you, if you want an MMO where you have the option to jump into a fast (but not instant) lane for leveling, here’s RIFT. All you need to do is jump into instant and intrepid adventures, and you’ll be watching the XP counter fill up like crazy. I kept doing intrepid adventures with the occasional dungeon run when the queue popped, and I shot up from level 1 to 42 within three nights.

And the thing was, doing so didn’t feel like a grind — I was loving the activities. Dungeon runs are still pretty great in this game, and IAs make grouping tons of fun. I love how the intrepid adventures take you into raid-like areas and let you experience the story and atmosphere without having to sport the highest of gear levels.

I mostly stayed support for those first few nights, although once I got enough levels under my belt, I started to experiment with some other builds (DPS, healing). I lost count of how many times over those first few nights that I was reminded of all of the things I loved about RIFT when I was playing more often.

I’m still looking to do some traditional questing in the Planestouched Wilds when I get to 65, but that still may be a while yet once the levels start coming in slower. And while RIFT isn’t going to overtake all of my other interests, it is pretty cool to come back and feel excited about the game as it is and as it hopefully will be.

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