Rift's "state of the game" address hints at future updates, the road to its second expansion

Phil Savage at

Rift - or 'RIFT', if we really must - is one of the few MMOs that still has a place on my hard-drive, even if I'm not actively playing it right now. It's a strange lesson in competently assembling a bunch of well-trodden systems, to create something that's both derivative, but likeable. Part of that good-will is the generosity of its updates and expansions, making it one of the few MMOs that could justify a subscription, back when it had one. In a recent post to the community, RIFT game director Bill “Daglar” Fisher talks about what's coming up next for players as they move towards the game's second expansion.

Microtransactions: the good, the bad and the ugly

PC Gamer at

"Free-to-play" and "microtransactions" are dirty terms to some. That's understandable. Famous Facebook Skinner boxes like Farmville have clouded attitudes toward today's free-to-play games, and there's an assumption all microtransaction-driven game design is handicapped by the need to create ways to charge players. For some games, this is certainly true, but there are excellent free-to-play games out there that represent good value for money. Below we've assessed some of the most common methods used by free-to-play games to make money from players, and highlighted some of the fairest examples of free-to-play that are worth your time.

RIFT now available through Steam, developers detail the road to 3.0

Phil Savage at

I had a whole intro planned around the combination of RIFT's fire and water elementals. It would have been like a nature documentary, the end result of which was a little Steam baby. To be honest, though, who wants to be forced into considering the technical difficulties of magmic rutting? And wouldn't creatures from the other planes just feel left out? Instead, we'll try this: RIFT's free-to-play incarnation is on Steam now, should that be the distribution platform that you favour. For existing players, the more significant news is a recent livestream held by the developers, in which they revealed the content roadmap leading up to the next expansion, RIFT 3.0.

Rift update 2.4 looks set to bring new wars, weapons, and slick hairstyles to Telara

Patrick Carlson at

Chaos is coming to the elemental planes. Rift's next update, version 2.4 Beyond Infinity, will bring new conflicts, strange environments, and yes, new hairstyles to the free-to-play MMORPG, according to a press release from developer Trion Worlds.

Trion shuts down its San Diego studio

Tyler Wilde at

A source tells PC Gamer that Trion Worlds has shuttered its San Diego studio, which was responsible for developing sci-fi MMO Defiance. Former COO Scott Hartsman, who departed the company in January, returned this morning as CEO—our source couldn't confirm whether or not the closure was decided before the management change.

Rift expansion teased in developer livestream

Phil Savage at

Rift is currently enjoying a resurgence, thanks its free-to-play switch. But having hordes of players bouncing between dynamic quests and rift encounters is one thing, keeping them there is another. In an effort to keep their newly bolstered community engaged, developer Trion held a recent livestream in which they teased upcoming updates and features, and gave the first info on the 3.0 expansion.

Rift trailer celebrates free to play launch with a round-up of its many features

Phil Savage at

Here's a cheeky shot at certain other MMOs; ones that perhaps haven't been as generous with their free to play content. Rift is going free to play, and to make the switch Trion Worlds have released this trailer, explaining the features that free-to-players will have access to. It stops just short of going "BOOM! It's the whole game", then dropping the mic and strutting off the stage. Actually, looking at it again, that's pretty much exactly what it does.

MMORPG Rift will be free to all former subscribers this weekend

Ian Birnbaum at

There’s some consternation over Rift, the much-loved MMO from Trion Worlds, switching to free-to-play. While moving to a F2P business model can add life into drowning games, developers abusing the microtransaction system can quickly destroy the balance of the game in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Rift free-to-play detailed; Trion promises "no tricks, no traps"

Katie Williams at

Rift is one of the few, rather excellent subscription MMOs still remaining, so its conversion to free-to-play is a little scarier than the usual case. But you can relax, okay? Things will be just fine. Trion Worlds has released an FAQ detailing the three different payment levels, and they ensure us that "free-to-play" is not a euphemism for pay-to-win—"the best items in the game will always have to be earned in Telara."

Layoffs hit Defiance developer Trion Worlds

Ian Birnbaum at

A large number of staffers has been laid off from Defiance developer Trion Worlds. As reported by IGN, the number could be as high as 80% of the development staff, though Trion has called that number “exaggerated.”

Rift will be free-to-play in June

Phil Savage at

And strike another one off the rapidly diminishing list of surviving subscription MMOs. If there was any sub-based game not called "EVE" or "World of Warcraft" that had a possible, maybe, oh-so-slim chance of surviving with a monthly payment model, I'd have argued for Rift. If nothing else, it had a history of providing generous new content to validate its regular toll. Alas, no, Trion have now announced that, as of June 12th, Rift will be entirely free-to-play.

Actually, scratch that - this is great news. The prettyexcellent Rift will be entirely free to play!

DICE seeking thesis student to implement Oculus Rift support in Frostbite

Tyler Wilde at

DICE has put out a call for a master thesis student capable of implementing support for the Oculus Rift SDK in the Frostbite Engine, meaning the much-hyped VR headset is at least in the developer's periphery. It also answers the question: "Can university life become even further removed from reality?"

Trion Worlds hit by lay-offs

Phil Savage at

Gamasutra are reporting that 40 members of the Rift development team - around one third of the game's staff - are being laid off. Trion Worlds have confirmed job cuts in a statement, but haven't commented on how many roles are being lost, or which teams are affected.

Trion Worlds wants former players to try Rift: Storm Legion for free

Shaun Prescott at

Rift: Storm Legion review

Phil Savage at

Blimey, it's big. Rift wasn't exactly slight to begin with. Set in the fantasy world of Telara, its vast continent was more than just a world to fill with quests. The titular rifts - tears in reality brought forth by the six elemental dragon-deities - were constantly haranguing the beleaguered player-faction, the Ascended. The result was a world that would dramatically shift around the efforts of the community. Left unchecked, these rifts spawned raiding parties of monsters, who'd assault strategic outposts to establish deadly footholds. It then provided regular and expansive post-launch updates, making it one of the few subscription MMOs that justified its monthly toll.

Storm Legion increases Rift's size dramatically. It isn't an expansion so much as it's a second Rift bolted onto the back of the game.

Rift: Storm Legion releases today, trailer celebrates with giant monsters

Tom Hatfield at

Rift's first expansion, Storm Legion, will finally land today, so Trion are marking the occasion in the traditional fashion, with a trailer full of massive beasts getting royally duffed up. The new expansion trebles the size of the game world and fills it full of gargantuan critters, many of whom can be seen being accosted by wandering adventurers in the screenshots inside.

Rift: Storm Legion open beta kicks off November 2

Tom Senior at

A four day open beta for Rift's massive Storm Legion expansion is set to start on November 2. Trion say that "all expansion content will be available during the open beta period to those who create a RIFT account and download the client from www.stormlegion.com/beta." Storm legion's new lands "more than triple" the size of the game world, the level cap has been sproinged up by ten levels and players can customise their skills further with the help of four new souls.

SOE cites SWTOR, Rift, The Secret World as reasons for scrapping EverQuest Next's design

Omri Petitte at

Unlike most of us, Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest Next--billed as "the largest sandbox MMO ever designed"--knows the feeling of getting your entire guts scooped out by a giant ladle. During the SOE Live convention held last week, President John Smedley said discarding Next's design was intentional to avoid aping "more of the same" from contemporary MMOs. Elaborating on that thought, Smedley told Massively the Next team saw "the writing on the wall" for the genre's trends in player retention when starting over.

Rift: Storm Legion beta key giveaway

Tom Senior at

Rift's Storm Legion expansion pack will add two vast new continents that triple the size of the game world. It includes seven new dungeons, three raids, a new chronicle, new souls to equip and another ten levels to earn. Basically, it's so big you'll need a bit of a head start to see it all. We have 500 keys to the this weekend's beta event sitting right here. Fancy one? Waltz this way to find out how to apply.

Today's other news: Far Cry 3, Black Ops 2, Guild Wars 2, and more

Omri Petitte at

Today's serving of collection of news croutons is best paired with a baby spinach, bullets, and blasters. On the menu: Far Cry 3 system specs and a trailer, a Guild Wars 2 patch, dead people lusting for your flesh in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Rift's nose-tweak to Pandaria, and more. Take a look inside.