Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

We said before that Trion Worlds planned to turn its MMORPG Rift free-to-play on this day but, you know, what sort of company expects people to remember things like that in the excitement of E3? But it has, and everyone can now play it as much as they please without paying a penny.

Head on over to the official site to download the client. If you're happy to download a whole MMO but reluctant to register for an account, hey, you can even play up to level 10 before registering.

F2P folks have fewer character slots and other such restrictions, and need to pay for classes from the expansion Storm Legion, but get every area, quest, dungeon and character level. Rift still has optional subscriptions offering boosters and priority access and whatnot, and has a microtransaction store for items and services, but Trion Worlds swears it's not pay-to-win.

"We are not selling power. We are not pay to win. Every piece of stat-granting equipment that you can buy from the store can also be gained through play," creative director Bill Fisher said in May. "Our philosophy is that the very best gear in the game must be earned."

While you download the client, here's a new trailer celebrating the F2P switch:

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

By today's standards, an MMORPG running for over two years before going free-to-play has been pretty successful with the subscription model. So well done, Rift. Developer Trion Worlds today announced that it will switch the MMO to F2P on June 12, a respectable 25 months after launching. It'll do the usual microtransaction stuff, of course.

Free-to-players can romp through every area, quest, dungeon, raid, and character level, but have fewer character slots and carry fewer bags. One imagines those will be two of the "services" sold for real money. Trion will also sell the classes from its Storm Legion expansion and items.

"We are not selling power. We are not pay to win. Every piece of stat-granting equipment that you can buy from the store can also be gained through play," creative director Bill Fisher said. "Our philosophy is that the very best gear in the game must be earned."

Subscriptions fees will stick around optionally, offering boosts to XP, money, reputation, mount speed, and other rewards to those who fancy paying.

June 12 will also bring the launch of Rift version 2.3, with a new zone, extra rift challenges, and more open-world raid bosses. Heaps more raids, quests, and so on are planned beyond that.

Gosh, the gang at Trion Worlds are excited about the upcoming switch:

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Trion Worlds has laid off some of its staff, a new report confirms. According to Gamasutra, about 40 team members were let go, including developers, artists, and designers. "As much as one-third of the development team working on MMO Rift" could be affected, according to the report.

While Trion has confirmed layoffs, it would not elaborate on which parts of the company were affected. The company told Gamasutra that the layoffs were "in response to market conditions, product timelines and the natural evolution of our company."

Rift most recently expanded with Storm Legion, which promised to triple the game world.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Trion World's popular MMO, Rift is getting a face lift through a new expansion pack. Called Storm Legion, the expansion promises to add two new continents that will triple the size of the existing world of Telara. The story-driven expansion will focus on Crucia, Queen of Storms, and the armies she hopes to bring through a gateway to the planes.

As explained on the expansion's official web site, Storm Legion will add three new raids and seven new dungeons. The add-on is planned for release this fall.

Trion had hinted at the expansion when it sent out an odd assortment of goodies, including a carpenter's level with the number 10 on it (the level cap rises from 50 to 60), the soles of four shoes (four new souls, one for each calling), and a rusty key ring with a gold key labeled Port Tempest (although the new city is Tempest Bay, according to the official site).

We'll get a first-hand look at the new Telara at E3 next week.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Trion Worlds must figure you need another way to let out your aggression, because it's adding a new large-scale PvP mode for Rift, complete with three new factions to duke it out. The "Conquest" mode is getting its first test this Thursday at 4 PM PDT, if you'd like to jump in and give it a go.

The Rift blog details the mode, which will grant rewards for your team or individual bonuses that you can use outside Conquest mode. Trion notes that since this is a new feature, it will be tweaking the mode as they get feedback and data from the play tests.

Essentially, your team (faction) will be tasked with getting control points (Sourcestone Extractors), while fighting against other factions to prevent them from gaining them. Those control points open buffs and resources for your team, and the match ends when one team gains 40% of the control points, or when 5,000 players are killed. If the latter happens, a 10 minute trigger begins to grab as many of the points as you can. The blog promises that everyone can play a role in the victory, using crafters providing battlefield resources and upgrades as an example.

The three factions are Dominion (The Ram), Oathswarn (The Lion), and Nightfall (The Raven). Their differences are story-based around their respective philosophies, so they should be evenly matched. You'll be able to swap factions, though presumably not in the middle of a match.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The MMORPG Rift has now updated to version 1.8 with the "Infernal Dawn" update. The update brings new trade skills, a world event, and refined usability features, among other tweaks. The centerpiece of the update is the titular Infernal Dawn raid, pitting you and 19 of your closest Rift friends against seven tough bosses.

Other features promised in the update include Fishing and Survival skills to catch and cook your own food, because if you teach a man to fake-fish and fake-cook he will get gameplay buffs. You can teleport to Ember Isle for an Instant Adventure, or go against the cults in the Infernal Dawn world event. Finally, if you've had trouble finding a guild, a new appropriately named Guild Finder feature should help you out.

Many of these features were hinted at when Trion Worlds celebrated the anniversary of the game. It's free-to-play to level 20, but for obvious reasons much of this tougher raid content will be way out of your range unless you pay up.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

A new, official developer Q&A for Trion Worlds' MMO, RIFT, has surfaced, in which the developers address a number of common questions raised by fans. The array of topics touched upon is fairly eclectic, and include questions about the possibility of playing cooperatively with friends in other factions, whether or not Arenas will make it into the game, and even whether or not players will be able to to warm their avatars' chilly, virtual shoulders with cloaks.

Folks interested in playing RIFT with friends from the faction opposite their own may soon be able to do so, though Trion Worlds is still sussing out just how that will work. "We are exploring many different ways to provide players with opportunities to play alongside players from the other faction," the developer notes. "The first step in this process is, of course, the mercenary system. This has had the fantastic benefit of virtually eliminating PvP queue times. We do have other, grander plans in store, but I can’t go into details yet."

Expanding RIFT's "soul system"--which would include adding more souls, levels, or "callings"--is also something on the developer's radar, but envisions those changes as part of a more "large-scale," future update for "expanding the game further."

Arenas, on the other hand, go against RIFT's design ethos. "We have no plans for arenas at this time, RIFT is a massively multiplayer game and we really want to embrace the mechanics of getting large groups of players together and arenas are counter to that." However, Trion Worlds is doing some things to serve more competitive players.

"We are adding leaderboards to both PvE and PvP content complete with divisions and rankings so players looking to compete will have a great tool for measuring how badass they are," the developer states. "We've also got some exciting new PVP content cooking but it’s still too early for us to give any details."

"Cloaks of all types (Guild or otherwise) are something we really want to do," Trion Worlds writes in response to inquiring fans. They'd love to add them, you see, but not at the expense of gameplay performance. "RIFT is unique in the fact that we have many activities that encourage hundreds of players to play together and we don't want to negatively impact that experience," the developer states. "You all will be the first to know if/when we solve this particular problem since you know we could never keep something that exciting under wraps for long!" Pun intended, we think.

You can check out the complete list of topics and answers in RIFT's latest developer Q&A for more tidbits.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Rift has just crossed its one-year anniversary, and it's had its ups and downs. This is a time for looking back and making plans for the future, so Trion Worlds has outlined some of what we can expect from the MMO.

The studio's anniversary video begins with a hearty pat on their back for the hard work thus far, before moving into the juicy bits of what's to come. While the developers don't detail exact dates for any of the content, the video promises a whole new cityscape zone, and a new 20-man raid. The new raid, titled Infernal Dawn, will use tech built for the Ember Isle content. The studio also promises multiple boss fights, with the new tools in place to make them change dynamically. On a larger scale, the game is aiming to develop persistent world PVP with "long-term ramifications." The video even hints at another faction on the way.

Rift is one of the many games dabbling a toe in the free-to-play model. Early last month it began offering Rift Lite, which allows free play up to level 20. So if you want to try it out ahead of some of the changes to come, you can get a taste.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

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.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

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."

If you use that password anywhere else online, you may want to change it. As seen when Battlefield Heroes was hacked, encrypted passwords and not necessarily secure.

"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.


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