When I first heard that Rift was opening up their free trial to levels 1-20 on an unlimited time basis as Rift Lite, I was intrigued. We loved levels 1-20 of Rift when we tried paid accounts but didn’t quite enjoy beyond that point. So, it sounds like a no brainer, right? Of course we’d love free access to the parts of Rift that we enjoyed!
At least we thought that’s what would happen. We loaded up Rift, which was conveniently already installed on our machines, logged in, and patched. Easy. We didn’t even have to set our accounts to access Rift Lite. You can just log in and play, an admittedly nice feature for returning players. If you’ve never played Rift before, however, you would need to start a new account.
I was excited to get back behind the wheel of a Chloromancer. Unfortunately, our usual server (“shard”) wouldn’t allow us to make new characters on it. We presume it was due to having a level 31 character on the shard, but there were no helpful messages to indicate as much. Finally we tried switching to a different server shard and had free access to create and play.
I divined an Eth (read: Defiant human) Mage who would eventually work her way up the Chloromancer and Warlock Soul Trees to AoE heal by doing damage. As I remembered it, it was a very fun class. Coupled with Stormcaller for ranged knockback spell, it was pretty enjoyable in PvP, which is what we were dying to get back to. To go with my Chloromancer, TG was making a Sentinel Cleric since healing classes really shine in Rift’s warfronts.
We knew that we’d ultimately have just levels 10-19 for PvP, so we hustled through the early leveling quests. It’s a linear questing game, so we’d seen it all before several times. We were a little irritated when, after having me loot everything on Free For All Loot mode, we found we couldn’t start trades as Rift Lite players. Okay, so we’ll stick to Group Loot. That’s okay, I guess.
Within 2.5 hours, we were level 10 and ready to PvP. Rift’s The Black Garden, which used to be the only warfront available for the 10-19 crowd, has long been my favorite battleground in any game we’ve tried, so when TG went to queue us for a game, we were both caught off guard by seeing two warfronts available. I was intimidated by this new intruder, so we just queued for The Black Garden.
Our queue took just about 5.5 minutes. When we joined, the game was setting up with 5 players on each side. It was nice starting with even teams, instead of one team starting with a full boat of 15 while the other floundered around with 5. Partway through the match, we finally had a full game of people. Unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on.
At some point, Rift introduced a new version of The Black Garden map, which involves picking up orbs and carrying them to cleansing stations. Even if I knew what was going on, this does not sound or look the least bit interesting or fun. This is the version that level 10-19s are able to play. The version we are so very fond of is available to higher levels. I was terribly disappointed and confused. It didn’t help when someone started with the profanities over /say. Because I was afraid of somehow messing up the game and taking on the group’s ire, I just focused on killing people in order to heal. Overall, it was an awful experience that I was not ready to try again.
So, we tried queuing for Library of the Runemasters, the new warfront we had never seen before. It was supposed to have the same mechanic as the other version of The Black Garden that we so enjoyed. Of course, we should probably have done a little research before blindly jumping in once again, but we’re slow to learn lessons, obviously.
A few minutes after we’d queued, TG noticed that our queue had been dropped. Weird. We tried queuing again. This time I noticed when it said our access to the warfront was blocked. We both tried opening up the warfront window and clicking Enter on the menu. We were ported into the raid group, and then dumped back at the nearby graveyard. A vague message in our chat log let us know that the “instance is locked.” There was no explanation to what that meant, and, only with a little Googling, I found that the Library of the Runemasters warfront is not available to Rift Lite players.
But, seriously, why would it even let us queue for something we don’t have access to? And why don’t they have some sort of obvious FAQ to find out what features are not available. The official Rift Lite page just says “under certain restrictions to travel and gameplay.”
It seems that there is no reason for us to stick with Rift Lite beyond the 2 hours and 45 minutes that we tried it. So, no, Rift Lite is not worth it. It might provide some fun for a weekend, and, yes, the Rift system is a cool enough mechanic that I do recommend checking it out, but I sincerely recommend throwing a little money at them and going with more than just Rift Lite. I think Amazon’s got the digital download pretty cheap, and maybe Steam does too. Frankly, it feels like Rift has just opened up Rift Lite so that they can claim they have more active accounts; our account didn’t even need to be reactivated to play. Is this just a way to pad the bodies and make Rift feel more alive?