The launch of Rift was a really special time for me. It was the first time that my “wow tourism” turned into something else. It was the first time that I really immersed myself wholeheartedly into another game and I loved it so much. At the time Rift was giving me everything I had said I wanted in an MMO and I chose to be a giant purple Bahmi warrior. We had a lot of great times in the game and while we didn’t really start to break into the raid scene until the release of slivers… we regularly had huge guild outings to open raid rifts which were an awful lot of fun. At that point it was just a lot of fun to grab some friends and chase rifts for awhile, and in truth I cannot really remember what caused us to initially fade away. For some players they never really grasped it in the first place as player fantasies turned out to be less than what they expected. Others shifted back to the familiar womb of Azeroth, but a group of us stayed true to the cause for quite some time. By the time the first expansion had rolled around however we were down to a shell of our former selves and a series of server mergers saw our little guild scattered. I personally had landed on my feet with another very active guild in the form of Machiavelli’s Cats helmed by fellow blogger Liore, and entered a sort of second golden age of Rift for me personally. I even managed to make my way into their raid rotation as I did my best impersonation of a dual wielding warrior. With the launch of Storm Legion saw a bunch of changes and a bunch of folks wander off, and before long I was once again left as a member of a dwindling guild. I made an attempt to rekindle the interests of my friends with a fresh start on Faeblight and the proper founding of House Stalwart in Rift, and it again worked for a time… but by three months down the line we were once again down to a handful of people actively playing. Essentially the core problem I have always seem to have with Rift is getting anyone other than myself interested in playing it for any length of time. No matter how solo at heart you happen to be… if you don’t have a guild core to organize around it is really hard to keep excited about logging in every day.
Recently Trion announced that they would be creating “Rift Prime” and it is not in fact shipping a temporal disturbance to your house in an hour or less. I realize I am super late to the party in talking about this… but I’ve been largely out of commission due to the flu so cut me some slack. The idea in theory is that they are trying to roll back time, to an era when the game was subscription based and not fueled by loot box purchases and store purchases. We don’t really have a ton to go on as to what specifically this means, but the full text of the blurb released on January 18th goes as follows.
Introducing RIFT Prime
In the Spring of 2018, we will launch a new server, RIFT Prime. We’ve paid a lot of attention in discussions with all of you and within the broader gaming community regarding business models in the MMO and games industry as a whole.
We have the opportunity to experiment with this fresh RIFT server using an oft-requested subscription model and progressively unlocked content. Our goal for RIFT Prime is to provide the experience that many of you have requested: no lockboxes, a significantly reduced store with more of the current store-based items obtained through gameplay (or removed entirely) – plus the excitement of sequential progression through RIFT’s content with monthly milestones and achievements.
So we know whatever it is will be happening in Spring… which is one of those super squishy definitions as far as time goes. It promises a return to a subscription only server, which admittedly is a huge boon as far as I am concerned. During the early days of Rift the community was something I cared about and I regularly volunteered for groups forming up in public channels. With the introduction of the free to play players… I more or less stopped watching public channels because they were full of nothing that I cared to see. I like the idea of starting over again with the core of vanilla Rift and building back out from there. A good portion of my struggle to stay connected myself is that there is just so much competing wrong information that you have to sift through in order to find what is actual good advise. We are lacking the Rift equivalent of Icy Veins to use as a sanity check to see if you are in fact speccing your characters in a reasonable manner. I think rolling back the sands of time might help this a bit, especially if prime sees its own forum infrastructure to support the initiative. Sure I would miss all of the toys I have accumulated over the years, but I also think having a reason to start fresh without having to deal with the baggage and friction of a free to play experience would be positive.
There are two problems I foresee and I am going to talk a little bit about them. Firstly how vanilla are we actually talking? I never again want to return to an era when the “faction as fiction” patch has not been applied. One of the best things to happen in Rift was the fall of the faction wall and I want to be able to run Guardian and Defiant together freely based on user choice. Secondly… if they build it will the people come back? I can be as interested as possible, but if no core upwelling of players want to come back and play… then my own journey through the game will be truncated as well without a guild base to build out upon. I’ve not had the best luck with guild projects lately, and I am not sure if I even have the energy in me to try and organize anything for the purpose of Rift. Destiny 2 was a colossal mess that never quite materialized into any semblance of regular group activities, but admittedly a lot of the problem there was the complete and total lack of guild chat. I still love Rift and I have so many fond memories of the game, but always run into issues each time I attempt to play the modern incarnation. At some point I left the tracks and never quite figured out how to re-rail myself. If I could find an active community to do this thing with me… then maybe just maybe it would work. However similar nostalgic based trips into other games have been short lived in the past, and even the third resurgence of Rift myself was us trying to do a similar “fresh start” that only wound up lasting three or four months. At this point however I am willing to give it a shot. If I am actively playing a game I am already in the mindset where I want to subscribe in order to support it… so flipping that switch is a no-brainier for me personally. The real question however is… will I have anyone else joining me in that madness?