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Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift: Five advantages RIFT has over WoW

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

From its inception, RIFT has taken the position of being both a World of Warcraft clone and a direct competitor for its playerbase. It's not as if Trion Worlds has been subtle about it: The early campaign slogan of "You're not in Azeroth anymore" all but reached over and tweaked Blizzard's nose. While some didn't like the direct comparison, I thought it was a wise move for RIFT to acknowledge its obvious ancestry and its position as a cocky upstart.

While I've never been of the opinion that only one MMO can "win" or that we should always disparage games other than the ones we play, I won't deny that comparisons get made. Listen, World of Warcraft is a fun, slick game, one I spent many years playing. But just because it's one of the most popular MMOs in the world and stuffed full of 10 years of content doesn't mean it holds all of the cards (nor is it the MMO that currently grabs most of my gaming time).

In fact, RIFT has several distinct advantages that it's used and continues to use against Big Blizz, and it's those advantages that I want to praise today.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: How to tell a great story in an MMO

Fantasy, Lore, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

My character still hasn't (ahem) ascended to Nightmare Tide levels yet, so today's RIFT story will instead be about Storm Legion. I had been working my way through the Eastern Holdings in Brevane when I encountered a quest chain that floored me with brilliant storytelling that showed exactly how MMOs can utilize this platform to tell tales in ways that other mediums cannot. It is audacious, bold, and incredibly dark, especially for RIFT. And I cannot praise it enough, especially in light of long-held claims that RIFT is often weak on story.

I have two caveats before we go through what made this quest chain so great. First, I'm going to spoil it from start to finish, so if you haven't played it and want to remain innocent, just bookmark this column to read later on. Second, there are some truly edgy themes in this recap. Got it? Let's go!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Do my bidding, minions!

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Guides, Enter at Your Own Rift

RIFT: Nightmare Tide is here at last, and the one overriding thought that permeates my every gaming minute is this: I am going to get totally addicted to minions. Heck, I already am.

I'll be getting into other aspects of the expansion in coming weeks (spoiler: sidekicking is way tubular), but since this one feature is available to everyone right now and it's completely new to the game, I wanted to discuss minions today. There isn't a lot of information out there on the minion system thus far, which is surprising considering how much I've seen guildmates and general chat buzz on about it. Perhaps it's simple enough not to require detailed explanations, but there's still enough depth to elicit a few questions.

So what's the minion system like? How does it benefit players? How much money does it require of free players? What are some good strategies for it? I'm all over this today, so let's get into it!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Which Nightmare Tide edition is right for you?

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

I was fully expecting RIFT: Nightmare Tide to be out by the time I sat down to write this, but then the delay happened and I had a little unasked-for breathing room to figure out what I was going to discuss while we waited for the expansion to come out. The good news is that it should be releasing tomorrow, and we'll all be well on our way to enjoying both new high- and low-level content.

However, there's one big question that each RIFT player needs to answer for her or himself, which is, "Which edition of the expansion is right for me?" Unlike some other MMOs, RIFT is not charging for its expansion at all. Trion Worlds did announce a trio of collector's editions as optional purchases, and since each of these editions has an impact on how we experience the new content, I thought it well worth examining the qualities of each as well as the benefit of not paying for it at all.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: How Nightmare Tide brought me back to RIFT

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Wow -- it's been a year and a half since I last sat down to pen this column. Obviously, around that time I had left the game and focused on other writing projects here at Massively. It wasn't a bad break-up with my former stomping grounds in Telara; it was a "goodbye for now" type of situation. There were other vistas to be viewed and other worlds to conquer.

Yet RIFT has this power to eventually pull me back in. I'll admit that I hadn't even thought of the game for the most part in 2014 until one fateful morning at PAX Prime in September when I sat down with Trion's devs to get an overview of the new expansion. The more I watched, listened, and asked questions, the more I groaned inwardly because I knew that my carefully tuned play schedule was about to witness another upheaval. I knew I'd have to go back to RIFT to experience Nightmare Tide.

In less than a week, Nightmare Tide will roll into this game, bringing with it several new features, zones, and most likely fellow lookie-loos who will be equally curious how the game's improved with its second expansion. For this returning edition of Enter at Your Own Rift, I want to highlight four factors that were instrumental in grabbing my attention and convincing me to come back for another go in this fantasy world.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Song of a superhero

Fantasy, Super-hero, Lore, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Song of a superhero
When it comes to fantasy MMOs, we've been there so long and done that so often that we hardly think about the framework that supports these worlds and our assumptions about them. This is doubly the case when it comes to who we are: We are always talented warriors or wizards who are out to do noble good deeds and get all, like, awesome and stuff. But we are mortal. We are people, just the best of people. We have adventuring spirits.

Except that this doesn't quite apply to RIFT. When you really look at it, our characters in RIFT aren't generic adventurers. Who we are is not only clearly stated time and again but made an integral part of the game and its story. It's an important distinction that's worth examining. We are Ascended.

Another word for that is "superhero."

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Goodbye Scott, hello 2.2

Fantasy, MMO Industry, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Goodbye Scott, hello 22
If I was to make a list of the top, oh, five or 10 MMO developers whom I admire, Scott Hartsman would be on there. It's not just that I appreciate that he's one of the few human beings who is shorter than I am, but that he's had a remarkable career full of accomplishments that I respect. EverQuest II and RIFT both owe a great debt to the leadership of Hartsman, which is why it was a sad shock to hear that he was leaving Trion Worlds for unknown pastures.

And thus we begin a new year of RIFT, teetering between uncertainty and promise. For as severe as Hartsman's departure will be felt in the development of the game and in its community, we're also looking ahead to the title's third year of operation and a new update that looks to add even more delectable treats on top of this fantasy buffet.

So today we're going to say goodbye to Scott and hello to Update 2.2 as we look at the recent state of the game post.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Dungeon review, part 1

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Dungeons

Enter at Your Own Rift Dungeon review, part 1
I don't hide the fact that as an MMO gamer, I probably fall into the "casual" category by many of your definitions. Even so, I probably go dungeon diving in RIFT more than in other MMOs because of the game's silky-smooth LFG interface and the generally quick pace of the instance runs themselves. Hitting a dungeon while you've got one or more counters on the reward page is added incentive because you're at least guaranteed a solid loot drop of your very own (or plaques).

I'm still getting a feel for Storm Legion dungeons, but when it comes to the core game, I've run those instances more times than I can count. I figured I might as well share my thoughts on the first four dungeons you're likely to run in the early and mid-game to see if they pass muster. While I'm at it, I might tell a related story or two from my runs. Gather 'round, children, as Papa Olivetti smokes a stogie and tells you a tale you're unlikely to forget.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: The burden of leveling

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift The burden of leveling
I've seen a lot of positive comments about RIFT: Storm Legion so far, many of which are praising the expansion's zone designs, the new classes, and especially the Dimensions housing system. However, it seems that there's another comment that pops up frequently that's not as kind: It takes way too long to level from 50 to 60.

For some of you, this may be moot. You might already be level 60, have multiple 60s, or have been 60 since the day after Storm Legion came out. For others who aren't even level 50 yet, the expansion might sound a bit intimidating because of the hefty XP requirements to move that level marker up one number. In any case, I think that a good number of us can agree that it's definitely a slow process that detracted from rather than added to the experience of Storm Legion.

I've got several thoughts about how leveling in RIFT has become a burden instead of a blessing, how Trion is reshaping the XP game, and what this might portend for the future of the title.

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Free for All: The second annual Frindie Awards

Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Asheron's Call, Contests, Culture, PvP, Ryzom, The Matrix Online, Wurm Online, PvE, Opinion, Second Life, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Mabinogi, Kids, Alganon, Free for All, Family, Miscellaneous, Enter at Your Own Rift, Sandbox

Frindie Awards logo
It's time once again for the Frindie Awards, my attempt to shine some light on the best indie, browser-based, free-to-play, and unusual MMOs that are all-too-often ignored by press -- and players. This one is for the little guys! Well, mostly. It's also for those games that seem to have passed under the collective radar of Massively readers or that seem to be very misunderstood.

Picking the winners this year is just as hard as it was last year, maybe even harder. 2012 was an incredible year for MMOs, so I would rather have just put together an article that highlights every single favorite. In the end, it's more helpful to make myself pick out a winner. It's a rare thing for some of these games to even receive a nod on a major website, something I still can't figure out. Either way, it's best to think of all of the MMOs on this list as my favorites from 2012.

Anyway, let's get to the awards!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: My 2013 wish list

Fantasy, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift My 2013 wish list
The end of the year and the beginning of a new one is the traditional time to take stock of the past and make plans for the future, no? I thought RIFT had a banner year, especially in pushing out a great expansion less than two years after launch. Trion Worlds has continued to get those meaty content updates out, fleshing out the now-annual celebrations and growing the game in new and often-surprising ways.

Really, we have such a wealth of options and content on which to feast, so you'll really have to excuse me as I ignore everything the studio's done to date and talk about what I'd like to see done, changed, or added in the new year. Yup, it's time for a RIFT wish list in this Fae Yule season, straight from my fingers to Santa Crucia's home at the Death Pole!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: What the Trion layoffs mean for RIFT

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter At Your Own Rift  What do the Trion Layoffs mean for RIFT
It's been almost a week since we first heard about the layoffs at Trion, yet there are still more questions than answers about the depth and scope of them. How many people were let go? Were they all from the RIFT team? And why was it timed just a few months after the expansion launched? It's hard to read about the layoffs and not see it as a bad sign for the game, but there may be other factors to consider.

So what does this mean for RIFT? Let's consider that question in this week's Enter at your own Rift.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Build to win

Fantasy, Classes, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Building off the backs of others
We've arrived at the point in RIFT's post-expansion launch cycle when I'm genuinely embarrassed to admit how slowly I've progressed. While many of you are probably 60 and living the high life in the endgame, I'm still (mumbles) 51. I have many excuses for this: a newborn at home, flip-flopping interest between my Rogue and Cleric, a lot of experimentation in Dimensions, and Storm Legion's generally slow leveling pace. But perhaps my greatest excuse stems from one of the core features of the game. I keep making new builds and experimenting with them.

Is that my fault? After all, with just one the addition of one new soul per calling a legion of new builds arose. Pun intended. Players on the forums are crunching numbers, fiddling with old builds, and magicking new ones out of thin air.

I've become fascinated if not addicted to testing out these player-created builds as of late. Some promise the world and are sadly lacking, while others have shown me synergies that I didn't realize were possible.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Three terrific player dimensions that have to be seen to be believed

Fantasy, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Housing

Enter at Your Own Rift Three terrific player dimensions that have to be seen to be believed
"Oh man, guys, I am going to go flat broke from Dimensions," I whined into guild chat.

While it seemed like everyone else in my guild was sprinting through Storm Legion, hitting level 60, and gearing up for the new endgame, I was puttering around at level 51 in my brand-new home, trying to figure out the best place for a kitchen nook. Earlier that day I had blown over 100 plat to purchase a new Dimension and outfit it with one of every item that was on sale in the Tempest Bay canals.

If you love player housing, then RIFT has got your next fix. It's flexible, it's insanely easy to use, and the possibilities are just about endless. I'm still fiddling around with ideas -- I think I'd like to make a haunted maze for visitors to enjoy -- so to get inspired, I started hopping around to other players' Dimensions and see what they whipped up. I'm pulling three examples out of the many that are already out there just to show off what this system is capable of doing.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Finally facing the Storm Legion

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Housing

Enter at your own Rift  Finally facing the Storm Legion
RIFT's Storm Legion finally arrived last week, and with it came a series of new questions to be answered. Will Crucia succeed in taking over Dusken and Brevane? Will the Guardians and Defiants cooperate to drive back the Storm Legion? And why does it seem as if Queen Miela is in 20 different places at the same time?

Armed with a two-handed staff and a foliage disguise, I set off to check things out now that the expansion has gone live. How well did I weather the storm?

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