One of the first things returning players will notice is that soul choices have been made easier to sort through. When you make a new character, there are now pre-made soul builds that are tailor-made for certain group roles, and as you level up, your point-spending path is clearly marked for you. Now, you still can go your own way and work on your own soul builds, but it's nice for new players or returning players to familiarize themselves with the system first. And if you remember the days of collecting souls by completing quests, you'll find that they're now purchased, and the quests have been removed.
Another change is that the barrier between Guardians and Defiants has been softened a bit. Players can mail items across factions to characters on their accounts and are able to see cross-faction auction listings. Meanwhile, for those who are trying to figure out the best choice for a guild, the most recent update included an in-game guild finder.
Rifts have evolved quite a bit since launch. Gone are the wardstone events such as the one in Scarwood Reach and Scarlet Gorge, but in their place are several rift additions. There are now crafting rifts, PvP rifts, raid rifts (slivers), and more zone events. In addition, the ascended abilities were tweaked a bit and made easier to understand.
When it comes to character advancement one big change is the addition of the Planar Attunement system, which allows level-capped players to earn experience and spend points in six different trees (one for each of the planes). Also, a new gear slot called Synergy Crystal was added in update 1.5. Synergy Crystals work like set bonuses on raid gear, but because these crystals make up a separate slot, players actually get to purchase those stat bonuses that complement their particular soul builds.
There are now many new ways to customize your character in RIFT. The addition of the wardrobe slot, as well as vanity clothing from vendors, faction, and rift zone events, gives players a chance to put together the perfect outfit (you can see the nifty robe from the Shimmersand zone event in the header image). With the next update, players will also be able to change their appearance at the barber shop. Many new mounts have been added to the game as well, and each world event seems to feature yet another new one, so chances are we'll see even more variety down the road. Non-combat skills like fishing and survival let players switch gears from the daily dose of combat. And who could forget the wedding instance, complete with cake, fancy outfits, and rings?
The nuts and bolts
There have been lots of changes to RIFT
outside the world of Telara. Players can record video using the /record command and even connect to their YouTube accounts to upload videos instantly. Riftconnect lets players tie their social media accounts to the game. The ability to create addons led to several handy player-made tools and a nice library of options for players who want a little more from their UI. The streaming client lets players shorten their download time and get in game much faster. The RIFT mobile app
lets players chat with guildmates and play a selection of minigames for shinies, crafting materials, and planar currency. And players can transfer characters to other servers once every seven days right from the character select screen.
Those are just a few of the changes to the game since launch, but for a rapid-fire recap, I've included a list below, with links here and there to handy write-ups and guides for some. One thing to note is that I did not include changes to the souls because they would probably fill about a dozen columns. If you're returning from a long break, plan on a point reset and a brief period of getting to know your ability tree when you first log in. I also did not include past world events, but I did include the upcoming Summer Festival that's around the corner. Hopefully this will make it easier for new and returning players to get a feel for the game!
Raid content (20-man instances)
Raid content (10-man slivers)
Greenscale's Blight (was available at launch)
River of Souls
Group content added since launch
Rise of the Phoenix
Overland content for level 50: Ember Isle
Master Mode Dungeons (challenging content for well-skilled level 50s)
Darkening Deeps (master mode)
Caduceus Rise (regular and master mode; found on Ember Isle; tough level 50 group zone)
Expert Rifts (5-man endgame rift events that are triggered)
Ember Isle Onslaughts (think tower defense; you run around buffing turrets, heal springs, and wardstone arches to defend against waves of planar invaders)
Chronicles (level 50 instances that present endgame storyline for 1-2 players)
Weekend Warfront: Library of the Runemasters
PvP ranks adjusted from 8 to 40; gear revamped as a result
Rift zone events (includes rift events that were added post-launch)
Sanctum Attunement Ceremony
River of Souls
And as if that isn't enough, here are the highlights for the upcoming Update 1.9
Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.