And yet I play it. I love it, in fact; I have ever since I first tried it in beta. The sign of a worthy game to me is not perfection (as that does not exist outside of the deluded hopes of fans anticipating the next big title) but a game that succeeds despite its flaws. For every flaw RIFT has, I could name two ways that it's done a great job in entertaining players, pulling together the community, and treating consumers with respect.
Free-to-play has caused a lot of folks to check out RIFT, some of them for the first time. Others who used to play are now returning because the subscription barrier is no more. So why do I play RIFT? Let me give you 20 reasons.
1. Dynamic events are a lot of fun, especially in a group -- and the public grouping button makes that a cinch. The big zone-wide events are always a worthwhile activity, especially when it comes down to a world boss versus an army of players.
2. I've always appreciated how agile Trion Worlds is when it comes to reacting to player needs and the growth of the game. The studio worked darn hard for our subscription dollar, and I have no reason to expect that it isn't going to work equally hard for our microtransaction monies.
3. The dimension system is the best player housing system that the industry has seen in years, and it's absolutely a breeze to use. I love having my own slice of Telara in my pocket wherever I go.
4. Just about every feature I'd want in an MMO has made it into RIFT by now. Holidays, pets, cosmetic outfits, housing, collections, the group finder, the guild finder, dynamic events, achievements, dyes, guild banks, coin locks, AoE looting, two-step authentication, guild quests, planar attunements... the list just keeps on going.
5. It's an explorer's dream. The zones are a joy to roam around in, especially for those of us who like to go off-roading. Getting rewarded with achievements and artifacts for going where few have gone before is just the cherry on top of the fun.
6. While I've never been a fan of the armor models, I have nothing but admiration for the general look of the game. From underwater vistas to little touches all over the game world, RIFT is a gorgeous title and incredibly easy on the eyes.
7. The user interface feels slick and functional to me at all times. I've never felt as if I was struggling against the UI when it came to playing the game, and that's one of those compliments that I don't give out too often.
8. I've run more dungeons in RIFT than I have in any other MMO. I don't exactly know why; maybe it's the group finder and its daily incentives that help, but I love jumping into runs with strangers here. It's a great way to get geared up and have a good time without a lot of the stress that comes with raiding.
9. Have I really reached the ninth point without mentioning the soul system? Let's rectify that now. The ability to mold your own "class" with the game's mix-and-match soul system is a feature that keeps characters feeling fresh and interesting long after you've reached high levels. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not pondering a new build idea, even if it won't be theorycrafted to be the best.
10. It hits the sweet spot of collecting for me. Between achievement hunting, minipet collecting, and artifact finding, I'm constantly looking for ways to fill out arbitrary game lists and flesh out my fluff bag.
12. Sometimes the stories are surprisingly engrossing, especially when Trion breaks out of the text box to use voice acting and scripted events. It could always use more of this, yes, but the expansion has done a much better job with storytelling on the whole.
13. Speaking of which, the expansion was absolutely enormous. Two continents, four new souls, new rift types, player housing, upgradable gear, and massive world boss fights just put other expansions to shame.
14. RIFT makes it really easy to be with your friends. Want to transfer servers? You can do so once a week for free! You play Defiant but your buds play Guardian? Now you can be in the same guild, group up, and talk to each other with no barrier!
15. The soundtrack by Inon Zur is pretty solid. I'm glad that more of it was added for Storm Legion.
16. World events and holidays are great ways that bring together the community, give us ways to earn fun new rewards, and change up the same-old routine.
17. RIFT's mobile app still pleases me greatly. I can yank out my phone and chat with my guildies, check on zone events going on currently, and snag some extra loot with virtual scratchers.
18. Instant adventures are such a terrific way to get into pain-free casual grouping with tons of action and substantial rewards. I almost never regret spending 15 or 20 minutes running a few IAs if time and interest permits.
19. I have incredibly fond memories of playing RIFT and meeting the devs at PAX several years ago. I wasn't even aware of the game before then, but after that session I knew that it was something I was going to lose myself in.
20. Its free-to-play model feels incredibly generous. I'm quite glad the game went that route because I feel I don't have to worry as much about its future now that it's not trying to be one of the few sub-only MMOs out there. Instead, it's one of the absolute best F2P games, and I'm thrilled at seeing how much activity is buzzing around RIFT as of late because of the change.
There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.