Rift is following in the footsteps of some of its MMO brethren, offering a free-to-play option up to level 20. Titled "Rift Lite," the offering allows unfettered access to the game until you hit level 20, after which you can presumably upgrade to the full version with your character intact.
Starting today, you can access any server with Rift Lite, and all you need is a Trion account. This comes alongside the new patch, Carnival of the Ascended, which adds Ascended Weddings, better rewards in PvP, the River of Souls Chronicle, a new Master Mode dungeon, and revisions to expert dungeons and endgame equipment.
"In the past ten months, Rift has evolved at a breakneck pace, through seven massive updates that set new expectations for live MMOs, in features, in content, and in service," said Trion CCO Scott Hartsman in the announcement. "We think a Lite edition with no time limit is the best way for players to see what an amazing experience Rift continues to be."
This is identical to a recent move from World of Warcraft, which began allowing free play up to level 20 in June. More MMOs are moving towards free-to-play models, at least in part. Both Star Trek Online and DC Universe Online have made the jump completely. Star Wars: The Old Republic game director James Ohlen recently referenced Rift as an example of a successful subscription-based MMO alongside WoW.
If you've played Rift, or even its open beta, be aware that an account database of developer Trion Worlds has been hacked. While the naughty hackers have made off with personal information including addresses and dates of birth, Trion insists that, "There is no evidence, and we have no reason to believe, that full credit card information was accessed or compromised in any way."
Trion explains, "The database in question contained information including user names, encrypted passwords, dates of birth, email addresses, billing addresses, and the first and last four digits and expiration dates of customer credit cards."
"We have already taken further action to strengthen our systems, even as we, with external security experts, continue to research the extent of the unauthorized access," Trion says.
Account holders will need to change their password and security questions when they next log into Trion's website. By way of apology, Trion will then give your account an item to boost in-game gold game and, if you own Rift, three days of free game time.