Trion Worlds’ Rift looks and plays like a carbon-copy of World of Warcraft at its core, but who says you have to reinvent the wheel to make a great MMORPG? The game was one of the most stable and expansive MMOs when it launched back in 2011, bursting with striking environments, superbly-crafted character models, and gameplay culled from some of the best aspects of similar titles. Though the early-game quests and lore are drearily dry, the game becomes more interesting as the story dissipates and you begin closing the sporadic, dimensional rifts that unleash a flurry of demonic beings into the game’s sprawling landscapes.
Rift‘s best feature is a flexible and immersive class system. Players begin by choosing one of two opposing factions — either the Guardians or Defiant — followed by one of three races and a standard archetype such as a mage, rogue, cleric, or warrior. Additionally, players take on three souls at a time, which function like subclasses, and develop their character using an elaborate skill tree. This level of customization adds to the game’s strategy and makes the accompanying co-op dungeons that much more dynamic and intriguing. The learning curve is steep, even after level 50, but the originality is there.
Rift went free-to-play in 2013, but a paid expansion titled Starfall Prophecy was subsequently released in 2016, featuring additional content that free users wouldn’t be able to see. However, it was then renamed Prophecy of Ahnket and made free once again, and the game continues to be updated with additional content, with a mech-themed event taking place in January.