Available for both iOS and Android devices, the RIFT mobile app was an extremely pleasant surprise when it came out early this year. I know Karen's touched on it already, but I've been spending a good deal of time with it lately and thought I'd give it my own overview. Is this "eternally in beta" application a useful tool, a silly toy, or something in the middle? What could this app expand to include in the future? And what does Trion have to say about its continuing development?
The answers you seek are on their way... now.
The current RIFT mobile app is more or less the same as it was when it released. Its function is tri-fold: to keep you abreast of in-game events, connect you with your guild, and let you earn a little in-game swag every once in a while.
Personally, I can't imagine needing to know whether there's a zone-wide event going on bad enough that I need my phone to interrupt me with a pop-up notification, but there you go. Maybe others are more dedicated to logging on just when there's a big zone event going on. I don't know. Please educate me.
The guild connection comes in two steps. The first is access to your guild's message of the day and wall, both of which can be utilized by leaders to keep members up to date on the latest and greatest. The app also has a live chat window, which is the closest it comes to putting you into the game. It basically emulates your guild chat, allowing both in- and out-of-game guildies to converse. For players on vacation or logging into other games, this can be a huge boon.
The chat feature also extends to your friends list, so it's a handy coordinating tool.
Finally, there's the most-talked about feature: Lootables. Lootables are virtual lottery scratchers that give you one chance to win in-game items every hour. Your chances stack up to six, so you can wait six hours, do all your Lootables, then wait another six. Generally, I log on to do this three times a day.
Lootables are separated into three types: one for crafting, one for planar goods, and one for artifacts. When I came back to the game in May, there was a fourth card for the anniversary event, but that's gone now.
What I like about the mobile app
First of all, I like that Trion released this for free. Not all MMO mobile apps are, you know, and I don't think most people expected this hard-working studio to cram a mobile app into its development schedule. It may feel a bit like a side project, and it probably is, but it's been pretty solid in performance and useful to me. And did I mention it's free?
Having the ability to touch base with my guild is wonderful. Because I bounce between several MMOs, I don't have time to log into individual guild forums every day to see the news. In a single finger-press, I can find out the most important info or ask my guild whether there's something scheduled for tonight. Plus, sometimes it's nice to be social, you know?
Of course, most players probably download the app for the Lootables -- and you can't blame them. Free loot is hard to pass up, particularly when it just takes you a minute every six hours to reap. I've seen some people swear by the planar invasion scratchers, but I've found it invaluable when it comes to collecting artifacts. I've netted dozens and dozens of free artifacts through this app, as well as five Lucky Coins. If you're looking to fill out a collection, it's a great helper. You will get a lot of duplicates, however; say hello to Mother-in-Law's Tears for me!
While I can't complain about free, I do see so many more ways this app could be expanded. Two of the most obvious areas center on crafting and auction house posting/shopping. These would each require extensive programming to make work, but they'd be certainly welcome. Seeing as RIFT already lets you craft from mats in the bank, I can just imagine logging out of the game at the end of the day and then working on my crafting before bed.
Brainstorming a bit here: It might be cool to see some sort of tips and hints guide. Adding the official game manual wouldn't be too hard, either. Access to the game forums? That would be right up many people's alley.
Having access to the soul trees, even if just for informational purposes, would be a boon too. That's just nice to have for reference, you know? But why not take it an extra step and let us experiment with builds? It's kind of a shame that even the official RIFT site doesn't have that but rather leaves fansites to cover the gap.
I also want to say that giving us access to our character's stats and gear would be terrific. It's a staple of many MMO apps, and it strikes me as strange that it wasn't chosen to be included here.
Another wish list item would be to merge this app with the authenticator. Having two RIFT apps on my iPhone seems redundant somehow.
A brief word with Trion
We dropped a line to Trion to see whether there's any new development on the mobile app and snag a hint about when it might shed the beta descriptor. While the latter wasn't addressed, Associate Producer James Karras did give us an official statement for those curious. He's is in charge of the app's development, and he told us, "We are incredibly happy with the reception to the mobile app. We have a solid and steady user-base, whose primary activity has been playing Lootables. In fact, we've had over 37 million unique Lootables played since launch! We have no major changes planned to the app at this time, but we will be releasing new Lootable cards every so often to keep the experience fun and fresh."
So there you go! Maybe a new Lootable, but we shouldn't be holding our breath for anything big in the near future.
Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.