Mar 27, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

Learning RIFT for WoW Players

This is a series that I've wanted to do for awhile. Mainly just being able to give MMO players a way to draw some comparisons or highlight some differences between the MMO they are most familiar with and RIFT. 

I will start with World of Warcraft since it's likely the most common and at the very least the one MMO that most people are familiar with. This is meant to be a quick rundown - it is not meant to go into an insane amount of detail. If I'm wrong or you think I'm missing something obvious, please point it out and I'll update it. 


WoW = Rift:

  • Reputation = Notoriety
  • Talent Trees = Soul Trees
  • Hearthstone = Soul Recall
  • WoW Token = REX (kind of)
  • Cloak = Cape
  • Battlegrounds = Warfronts
  • Subscriber = Patron
  • Heroic = NTE = Expert Dungeon
  • iLvl = Hit
  • Pets = Companions


The UI is very WoW like with the exception that you can actually move it all around without the need of an addon. (Escape menu -> Edit Layout). If you're familiar with WoW default UI, you'll feel mostly at home with the RIFT one.

Addons are far and few between in RIFT, but they exist. One thing to keep in mind - just because an addon has not been updated for many months, doesn't mean it does not work. Some addon parallels would be:

  • Weak Auras / Power Auras = KaruulAlerts
  • DBM/Big Wigs = King Boss Mods
  • Recount/Skada = Rift Meter

With WoW you can save/load equipment sets from your character panel which is quite handy. RIFT has this (little known) functionality but you need to actually use commands to do it. For example: /saveequip 1 will save your currently equipped armor to set #1. /loadequip 1 will equip that armor. You can do /saveequip 2 /saveequip 3, etc to save additional sets. It's not as user friendly as WoW's system but the once nice thing about it is you can then create a macro to load your equipment after it switches your spec. 

Macros are similar to WoW except you have a slightly more organized interface to work with. Just like WoW (post 6.0) there is no way to do cast sequenced macros in RIFT. That means that it will always prioritize an ability that's closer to the top if it is able to cast it (ie it's off cooldown). 

Gold works the same except in RIFT it goes up to Platinum. The currency isn't near as inflated in RIFT as it is in WoW so a rough figure as of RIFT 3.5 and WoW 6.2.4 would be 1000p (plat) equals 100,000 gold in WoW. 

Guilds are guilds. They hold players. There's still guild levels in RIFT which unlock "points" which the leader (or whoever the leader delegates permission to) can choose to spend to give the guild certain bonuses. In order to level the guild, you must complete guild quests which you can see in the "quests" section of your guild. 

There are tons of mounts in RIFT, a lot of them you have to buy from the store, some of them you can get from events, and quests and achievements. Mounts.. they're everywhere. 

Companions are the pets of WoW but without the battles. 

WoW is both a Pay to Play and Subscription based game (you have to both buy the box copy and the current expansions). RIFT is a Pay to Play game hiding behind a F2P mask. If you're interested in playing RIFT, just be mentally prepared to spend up to $100 on it. This will get you all of the "expansion souls" (which are the new specs and basically required to be competitive in raiding and PvP) as well as the earring slots. That being said, with a lot of hard work and grinding, you can buy the real money currency to buy things from the RIFT store using in game money, it will just take longer. At the end of the year, you'll have spent more on WoW between your subscription and the box costs than you would have on RIFT if you only purchased what is "required". If you're seriously invested in playing RIFT, Patron's also get quite a huge bonus so you may consider subscribing. 

Bonus fact: Learn to love Ctrl-F. It makes the hell that is RIFT inventory bearable. 


Alliance = Guardian = Blue

Horde = Defiant = Red

There is no faction barrier in RIFT. You can be in the same guild as the other faction, you can trade/chat/talk/raid/etc with the other faction. 


RIFT "only" has five classes vs WoW's (soon to be) 12 classes. That being said, classes work a little bit differently in RIFT. In WoW you're given three talent specializations. In RIFT, each class (except for Primalist since it is the newest) has 11 soul (talent) trees to choose from. So that is essentially 11 unique roles per class. 

For example: A mage in World of Warcraft can be a Frost Mage, a Fire Mage, or an Arcane mage. You're always going to be a mage, though. 

In RIFT a mage can be a Warlock, a Necromancer, an Arbiter (tank), a Harbinger (melee DPS), a Chloromancer (a healer), and much more. 

Additionally - if you played World of Warcraft before Mists of Pandaria (Cataclysm and prior) you'll remember the talent trees had a point system. That is how RIFT's talent/soul tree works. So you'll end up having a decent amount of hybrid specs that can fulfill multiple purposes. 

Coming in Legion, World of Warcraft is finally ditching dual talent specialization and allowing you to freely switch between your three (or four if you're a Druid) talent specializations. In RIFT you can buy as many "Roles" as you'd like (I think it's up to 20?) so you can run as many different specs as would ever be needed. On my mage at this moment I have 9 Roles that I switch between. 

Finally - all classes can do everything. Warriors can heal, mages can tank, rogues can support, clerics can ranged dps. You can fulfill almost every role with a single class in RIFT. 


The items that are the same (or self explanatory) I'm not even going to touch one.  There's just a few things worth knowing about coming from WoW to RIFT:

If you're a new player, you'll notice two slots that are locked - earrings. Even though RIFT is F2P, you'll have to purchase these at some point (whether it's through plat or through real money) if you want to raid or competitively PVP.

You only have one trinket. 

You have a synergy crystal slot. This is how you get your "four set". The synergy crystal you buy will be specific to your role, and can tie to many different sets of gear, so instead of the set bonus belonging to the gear it simply belongs to this synergy crystal. Any gear over a certain threshold will activate this set. 

Seal: Basically a one stat item that you use to get more of your primary stat. 

Planar Focus: One of the grindiest parts of the game. It's quite complex but the TL;DR is you'll need to spend a lot of time grinding rifts and getting notoriety in order to complete your best in slot planar focus. This is an extreme over simplification of what this is and how important it is, but this is not an all inclusive guide, dammit!


 Levelling in RIFT is likely going to feel very similar to levelling in WoW with one major caveat. Don't expect to be doing low level dungeons or PvP unless you're levelling with a group of friends. It's a cyclical problem; No one queues because the queues don't pop. That being said, you can queue for content while you level and it will eventually pop. The majority of the people who get into RIFT will either boost a character or rush to max level as quickly as possible thus skipping all of the low level content and not waiting around for queues. 

That said, questing is quite linear and the game does a good job of guiding you where you need to go. Questing is quite slow as there is no experience catch up mechanics, and as such you may want to look into doing either Instant Adventures and Intrepid Adventures to give yourself a bit of a boost or a break from the questing grind. I'll go into those a bit more later on. 

Once you're level 50 and in the newer "Storm Legion" zones, you'll notice killing almost every mob auto accepts a carnage quests. These are one time only quests that have you simply kill x mob y amount of times. They are a nice boost to XP if you're in the area anyway, and there's also achievements for them so if achievements are your thing keep your eyes open. 

RIFT has a mentoring system and a side-kicking system which means that players that are higher level than you can mentor down to help you with content, but you can also side kick higher level players to tag along them with content. That way if you have friends that are higher level than you, you can still play with them and gain XP by doing so. 

Finally, you'll notice once you hit level 50 - you'll gain access to Planar Attunement. This is a system that lets you continuously gain experience even once your beyond the levelling cap of 65. There is no parallel to this in WoW but if you're familiar with Diablo it's basically like Paragon levels but they don't get reset when a new expansions or patch or "season" starts/comes out. It's simply a minor boost to stats that you can constantly work toward.

End Game

There are quite a few different versions of end game, so I'll split it into three sections: PvE, PvP and Casual.


RIFT has Battlegrounds which are called Warfronts. RIFT also has ranked battlegrounds. RIFT also offers a game mode called Conquest which is fairly unique and hard to really draw a comparison to in WoW. It's basically a 3 faction/side objective based battleground. That's about where the PvP ends in RIFT, though. 

Technically you can create your own arena's inside of Dimensions (the housing system of RIFT - you'll see this in the causal section). There isn't a very large competitive scene behind this though, and as far as we know there are no official plans to add arena's to RIFT. 

That said, if battlegrounds are your thing - then RIFT might be fine for you. It isn't the worst balanced game that exists when it comes to PvP but you'll notice some issues if you spend any amount of time actually PvPing in the game. It suffers from a lot of the same problems that lower-population PvE focused games always do in PvP.  


There is a lot of "casual" content in RIFT. I put the word casual in quotes because there are some players that people may label as casuals since they do not raid or PvP but they spend more time in the game than the former do. Let's start off with dimensions:

Dimensions is the housing system in RIFT. It is hands down the best housing system that exists in a game to date (and probably the foreseeable future). You can build whatever you want out of whatever you want. You're essentially give a section of a zone (whether its outdoors somewhere, maybe inside of a raid where you fight a boss, etc, there are hundreds to choose from) and you can build functioning environments. You can have doors that you need to open, elevators that you can trigger up and down. You can build using pre-existing items in the game or you can make your own structures out of wood and stone textures, complete with windows, etc. 

Some examples of dimensions: A functioning water slide, a maze that changes slowly as you progress through it, an insanely large pirate ship, an 8-bit city in the sky. What people can do in these things is insane. 

Unfortunately there is no WoW comparison to draw to since WoW does not have housing at this time. Garrisons is not housing. 

Artifacts: Are you a collector? Artifacts will both make you love the game and make you want to kill yourself. This is kind of similar to Archaeology in WoW, but a bit more simplified but a lot deeper integrated into the game. It is not a skill in order to fine Artifacts. You'll find a lot of little shiny things starting around level 10 or so. You simply right click it to pick it up and then right click it in your bag to add it to your collection. The thing is - there are 1000's of sets of these things. And they're everywhere! You'll find them in the open world, inside of instances, warfronts, etc. 

Achievements: These work exactly the same in WoW as they do in RIFT. There's many achievements to be had and if you love em, they're there. Oh, you can search them as well. I know WoW is finally adding that in Legion, but what took them so long?

Professions: There are a lot of professions in RIFT (Artificer, Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Apothecary, Runecrafter, Outfitter, Dreamerweaver, Butcher, Foreager, Miner, Fishing, Survival) . You can pick up 3 primaries by default and two secondary (Fishing, Survival) but with real money (or REX) you can purchase all slots and learn all professions on a single character. Crafting is about as relevant in RIFT as it is in WoW. WoW has done a slightly better job at staying relevant with raiders due to their upgrade system for their crafted items. 

Wardrobes: Similar to Dimensions, I believe that RIFT has the best wardrobe system that exists in an MMO today. Every item you collect unlocks its appearance across your entire account. That is then available in a UI that you can select from as part of your wardrobe. You can have up to 80 (!!) different wardrobe sets at any given time. In addition to selecting the item you want to display in your wardrobe you can also dye it's primary and secondary colors. 

WoW's current wardrobe system is just a transmogification system which lets you apply one armour's appearance to another. They're streamlining it quite a bit come Legion by giving you an interface to select an appearance from rather than forcing you to bank and void storage hundred's of items because you want ot keep their appearance. A step in the right direction but still a league behind many games' wardrobes systems (including RIFT). 

Holidays are like the holidays you know in love in WoW. They'll hold an event and for participating you can get a currency that is specific to the event and you can later trade for items. 

Minions are what Garrison follower's should have been (if you've played Warlord of Draenor) you collect minion cards through various means, whether it's questing or drops or crafting or buying them off of the AH, etc. You can level them up from 1-25 and they are 100% cross account and universally accessibly through the minion interface. You can send them on tasks to get you notoriety (reputation), crafting mats, artifacts, etc. A nice little addition to the game which you'll get a lot of use out of. 

There is some casual PvE stuff as well (chronicles, dungeons, rifts, zone events, IA's), but I'm going to put that in PvE below.


Let's start with the bread and butter which is raiding. In WoW you're used to many different difficulty levels (LFR, Normal, Heroic, Mythic). In RIFT you get up to two max - normal mode and hard mode. There are 20 man raids and 10 man raids in WoW. There is no flexibility in the rads, the sizes are fixed and if you go in short well you better be able to carry. There is no separate lockout modes for difficulties - it's very similar to how Ulduar worked with hard modes. 

Like in WoW, you kill bosses and the bosses drop loot which is hopefully an upgrade but it never will be since 3 of the same damn item that dropped the last 5 weeks in a row WILL KEEP DROPPING. In terms of the best in slot (Tier) gear, if you remember how Valor worked back in the day where you would spend xxx amount and receive a piece of loot, that's how it works in RIFT. Each tier has its own currency, and that currency can be farmed many different ways. (Using your dungeon charges, chronicle charges, weekly quests, etc). You get the majority of the marks by farming the tier instance, though. So for example if you want Tier 2 gear, you'll get Tier 2 marks by running Hammerknell (the current Tier 2 instance). You can slowly collect marks for all tiers by doing the smaller casual group content, though. 

There's no average item level in RIFT which I'm sure you're happy to hear, right? Wrong. There's hit - which is even worse. Instead of seeing spam in trade "LF1M DPS Heroic HFC 715+ iLvl" you'll just see "LF1M DPS IGP 1300+ HIT". It works the same as it does in WoW though. Having a large amount of hit can still mean your gear is itemized terribly and that you still suck at the game. Just like having a high item level in WoW means that if you can't hit your face in the right places at the right time, you'll still produce less DPS than the tanks. 

There is no raiding catchup mechanic like there is in WoW with LFR. The progression is purely linear. If you hit level 65 today - short of having friends in high places that will carry you through old content, or $400 to blow on old-tier content (I want to emphasize this is not current tier) raiding gear for a full set, be prepared to progress like it's Burning Crusade in WoW, baby. You got to start at the bottom and work your way up. 

There's a decent amount of dungeons in the game. Dungeons work mostly like they do in WoW except there's an additional "required" role called support. Support players are generally supposed to buff players (aka vanilla Paladin) or debuff mobs or maybe help out with some heals and do some damage, etc. Very rarely will you get one, though. Most people will queue as support and then just DPS (which is perfectly fine unless maybe the healer is new and struggling - then just try to help out). 

If you played in Mists of Pandaria or Cataclysm you'll remember Scenarios. Those are kind of like Chronicles which are up to two player (and in certain ones soloable) instances. They're usually fairly story driven and in my opinion they're quite fun. This is great content for all players (casual included). 

The remaining content is fairly unique to RIFT and does not have much to compare it to in WoW:

Instant Adventures: These are exactly what they say they are. You queue and you'll automatically be placed somewhere around the world(s) with a group of people to do different tasks. Every time you complete an adventure you get some currency and experience. They scale from anywhere from 1 player all the way up to 20, hence instant adventures. The more the players the more difficult the content. I use the word difficult lightly there.

Intrepid Adventures: These will take you to a raid zone and let you see bosses in a much more casual manner. It is not like LFR in WoW as the way the encounters work is completely different. It's kind of like an instant adventure inside of a raid zone with an "end boss" which is a very easy version of the boss in the raid. IMO this is what LFR should have been if all Blizzard wanted was to show off their fantastic art and have players experience the raid zones. 

Zone Events are not to be confused with holidays. They are little events that happen periodically through all of the zones in RIFT multiple times per day. You'll have to perform various tasks in order to progress the event which usually ends with killing a boss. Once the event is over you are awarded level-appropriate currency. 


If I could emphasize one of the most glaring issues for players migrating from WoW to RIFT, it would be the lack of resources. There aren't thousands of theory crafters in RIFT. There is no armory, there is no Elitist Jerks, Icy Veins or FatBoss. Coming from WoW where you have the tools and information to know what you're doing within a few hours of research is a massive luxury. There are a handful of extremely hardworking contributors in the RIFT community, but for the most part the game will eat you alive if you do not take the time to learn and ask questions. In it's current state, RIFT is a much deeper and more complex game than WoW with a fraction of the information out there. You have to be patient and willing to learn and ask questions. Hopefully when you pick up on some of the information and you see some other new player you can pass the knowledge on to them. Be patient in expert dungeons with new players just like people would have had to have been patient with you. 

I'm sure I've glazed over a ton of stuff. Even if you read all of this information you probably forgot half of it by the time you were finished. This is simply my way of trying to communicate things to a WoW player so they have some sort of comparison to draw it to and is by far and away not supposed to be a be all end all guide. RIFT is an extremely complex game with a lot of systems in places. 

Categories New Players