With Trion Worlds' Rift currently celebrating its first successful year online, GameSpy took advantage of the opportunity to pen a retrospective editorial that seeks to make the point that "it's a different game, and an example to MMORPGs everywhere."
Telara's a different place now, partly out of necessity. In the 52 weeks between today and my first feats in Gloamwood, Trion's upstart MMO has emerged as one of the industry's shining models of adaptation, polish, and sheer dedication to its fans. That's a good thing, because the novelty of the somewhat dynamic rift events quickly wore off. Even by the time I'd leveled two zones past Gloamwood, engaging in the signature events began to bear the taxing weight of a chore, and the frequency with which I found myself attempting to solo them hinted that other players felt the same way. But rather than leaving rifts alone and counting on a resurgence of their brief popularity, Trion used the following months to tweak and redefine them, and introduced everything from "crafting rifts" to "instant adventures" that teleported players to specialized rift events at any time. Rifts still haven't made a true comeback, but Trion's repeated tweaks have kept them relevant.
Indeed, nothing distinguishes Rift from its competitors quite like its rapid-fire content updates. After quitting World of Warcraft in a fit of nerd rage only two days after the final patch for Icecrown Citadel (long story), I barely noticed any difference when I dipped back in eight months later in preparation for the launch of Cataclysm. For Trion, that's enough time to make returning players feel like they've missed out on an expansion. Rift saw seven major patches in its first year alone, and the highlights included everything from a new warfront and five separate raids to the Ember Isle's sprawling expanses. While there's some case for labeling the original game as a World of Warcraft clone with some ideas from Warhammer tacked on for good measure, the ensuing patches allowed Rift to find a much-needed soul of its own.