Yolari and I have written this basic guide to setting out into the world of Rift. Our goal with this guide was to create a practical hands-on supplement to the game manual.
We also wanted to make a more intuitive and easier to read document than the Telarapedia new player guide, which is excellent but a little bit geeky and complicated in a reference-table kind of way.
Think of our guide as a Druid fairy floating along to help you as you delve into the wonderful world of Rift. We hope it helps your journey.
This guide was last updated Dec., 2012 with feedback I received. I have taken down my L50 guide also, but this guide is more solid for now. If any information is out of date, please do comment and help us out.
Choosing A Shard
When you start Rift, the first thing you’ll be asked to do is select a shard, also referred to as a world or a server.
If you choose a PvP shard, you are fair game to be attacked at any time in your home territory by the opposite faction. If you are on a PvE shard, you are safe from attack in your homelands, unless you attack encroaching members of the opposite faction first.
A server with an -RP suffix is for roleplaying. Don’t play on an -RP shard unless you understand fantasy roleplaying and wish to participate in that activity. You can visit the official forums to further research your shard selection. (NA, EU.)
If you want to play in a different region than your default setting (NA/EU), you can also choose that (and your language preference) using the settings button at the bottom of the game launcher. Wolfsbane, Briarcliff, and Faeblight were originally nominated as unofficial Oceanic shards, but as of June 24, 2011, Trion has an official recommendation of Dayblind (pvp) and Laethys (pve).
Selecting A Faction
After choosing a shard, you will be asked to choose one of two factions–Guardian or Defiant. What are the differences? Each faction in Rift starts in a different place, with a different story, and has its own large areas with quests and dungeons, as well as their own towns and cities.
The two factions can, however, cross into each others’ areas and attack each other, or meet in special PvP arenas. The Guardians and Defiants both fight the invasions of the Blood Storm, but they violently disagree over the best way to do so.
The Guardians are more traditional fantasy races–high elves, dwarves, and human (Mathosian) races who worship a pantheon of gods called the Vigil, and have faith in the gods.
The Defiants are more exotic races, such as tattoed air beings (Bahmi), nomads (Eth), and dark elves (Kelari), who trust more in their own inventions and magi-tech than any gods.
It should be noted that in Rift, you are not restricted from creating characters of both factions on the same shard, unlike in other MMO’s.
Selecting A Gender, Race, Calling, and Purpose
After choosing a faction, you will be asked to select a gender and race. The racial differences are mainly cosmetic, but each race also has a few unique abilities that you might want to pay attention to. Due to last-minute changes (nerfs), the original game manual is/was not accurate.
As far as gender, the female is of course the best, almost to the point of being overpowered. Everyone knows that.
After selecting a race, you’ll be asked to select a calling. In Rift you do not play a character class–you play a calling: Cleric, Warrior, Rogue, or Mage. These are like the traditional fantasy RPG classes, but with a big extra level of customization.
Each calling can collect several souls, each of which give sets of standard skills that are expected in a fantasy RPG. You are then allowed to mix and match your souls to make the kind of functionality that you want.
For example, all callings in Rift can potentially be damage-dealers (DPS), depending on which three souls they slot. All callings can provide some support. All callings can potentially have a pet. (I have been looking for a good Rift pet guide, but have yet to find anything better than this.)
Mages can potentially be healers (via their Chloromancer soul). Clerics and Rogues can also potentially tank (via their Justicar and Riftstalker souls).
While the heart of Rift’s character development system is completely free-form and build-your-own, in January of 2012, Trion added “Purposes” to the game. These are simply presets, or pseudo-classes, that help new players get started with the Rift character system. You are stuck with the Calling you choose (Warrior, Rogue, Mage, or Priest), but you not stuck at all to the Purpose you choose.
At any time, for example, you can open up your skill tree panel and re-allocate points from the preset “Purpose”, and from then you are on your own with a character build labeled as “custom” on the panel (opened with ‘N’ by default). For more information, here is the link to the official announcement.
For now, you are going to select your first soul in your calling after naming your character and entering the game world. Here you will appear in the tutorial zone and receive your first quest (by right-clicking the NPC with the exclamation point over his or her head). This quest is to select your first soul and gain its lowest level abilities.
Quests in Rift are added to a quest tracker located under your mini map by default. An asterisk will show when you are close to a quest objective, and green circles may appear on your main map to show the area where you need to go.
In addition to guiding you to the correct general area for your quest, the Rift quest tracker will also track the progress of invasions from other planes, which take place frequently in Telara.
The tracker should update for various stages of a quest. If you need to use an item to complete the quest, the tracker will also show a clickable icon. Right-click the little check-mark buttons if you wish to change the active quest being tracked. Left-click them to open the quest in your log.
At the quest turn-in NPC (look at the minimap for the little check mark), open the dialogue and cntrl-click the soul icons of your calling to view the skills offered by each one. Each soul is represented by a skill tree. As you gain levels, you will gain points to allocate into the branches of your chosen skill trees.
For each five points you place in a given tree, you will unlock the next higher tier of icons on the tree branches. You will also unlock icons sequentially in the roots of the tree, which will bestow additional abilities for that soul regardless of where you spend your points in the tree branches.
On page 28 of your game manual, you will find a list of souls by calling and what type of soul they are (offensive, defensive, healer, or supporting your allies). I like to use this reference to pick an offensive soul first, but any soul is perfectly playable in the tutorial.
It’s very important to know that you’ll get three souls total in the tutorial quests by level 6, and you’ll be able to get access to all of the rest of the available souls for your calling later in your faction capital city.
Now that you’ve completed your first quest and selected your first soul to play, you can explore your way out of the building in which you began and obtain your first quests in the starting area.
Your starter skills have been automatically placed in your action bar at the bottom of the screen. You can examine these by hovering your mouse over them, or opening the skills panel (P by default). Click or use the number keys 1, 2, 3, etc. to activate your first skills.
Note that these skills are called your zero-point skills for your selected soul, since you’ve gained them simply by having the soul without spending any points in it (yet).
As you do your easy tutorial quests, it’s good to go slow and carefully read every popup you get, which appears as a (?) above your skill bars. Read each page of the popup. Don’t get too caught up in the excitement and skip important information.
If the explosion sounds are too loud and intense (while you’re trying to figure out how to play the game), just open audio settings (escape, settings) and turn down the environment slider to calm the sounds so that you don’t feel rushed.
Rift is a challenging game, and the tutorial areas aren’t completely lacking in danger, but this is a good time to experiment with the basic game settings as well.
When I start a character, I like to press (esc) to the user menu, select key bindings, and change the hotkeys to my preferences, such as the classic “I” for inventory instead of “B” for bags, and the middle mouse button for auto-run because it’s very convenient.
All you need to do is hover the mouse pointer over the relevant key (or square on your hotbar) and press the new one to activate whatever you want. Be sure to press (apply) before closing the keybinding configuration window.
Other possible settings to look at:
Interface– show your name.
Misc– auto-loot on by default. This will make looting bodies of your enemies much quicker. I also like to hide helmet.
Combat– Cast on target’s target. This is very useful for a cleric. You can target a fellow player to throw healing spells, but if you throw an offensive spell using this option, the game will automatically send your spell forward to the enemy that your fellow is targeting, without you having to re-target to that enemy.
Combat– Show combat meters. Turn off the hovering bars over your character and pet.
Combat– Auto-flag. This is currently on by default, which means you can “flag” or make yourself a target for PvP if you buff or heal someone who is engaged in PvP. Turning this off should prevent that, and if not, then it may be a bug.
Action bars–you’ll quickly run out of space on your one lonely action bar. You can increase this to show 2 or more bars as you need them to place your skills. Bars are also available on the sides of the screen, which can be handy for healing your party or uncluttering the area around your character. You can also use the little up and down arrow function on the right end of the skill bar to navigate bars if you wish.
Social–disable profanity filter. Not that I like profanity, but the filter also butchers legitimate words like cockatrice, and this is distracting.
Display–global UI scale is useful if your interface seems too big and cluttered, or too small to read. Around level ten, you might want to track more than 4-5 quests at a time on your screen. Here you can also increase the number of quest stickies displayed under the map on your screen.
If you play around with a lot of alts, the following commands will also come in handy, so you don’t have to re-do your keys and interface layout every time. The import and export file names can be anything.
Layout Customization– this is available from the main user menu. You can move all of the screen elements around (I like to have my character vitals and details down just below and left of my character, not up in the far left corner, so I can see them more easily).
You can also scale most interface items separately. The chat box fonts are changed in the chat menu, accessed by clicking the chat box tabs. To change the size of the chat box, use the lower right triangular corner to pull. You may need to click a tab first to get the proper element focus.
Finishing the Tutorial
At the end of the tutorial, you should be around level 6-7 and have three souls in your filled-in soul panel, having added two more to your original soul through questing (press N).
Be sure you don’t miss any quests in the tutorial. Always watch your minimap for the exclamation marks that have a way of popping up unexpectedly.
You should also be allocating your soul points strategically to best effect in these souls. If you do not, you’ll receive a warning message that you’re making things difficult on yourself.
You can left-click the lit-up soul branch icons to add points and right-click to take points away (only before you lock the points by saving and exiting).
It’s also important to see your calling trainer (cleric, mage, etc.) and purchase skill-ups for all of your available skills that you’ve unlocked in your soul trees. It’s easy to forget this when you level up or slot a new soul.
The starting area has been made a lot easier since launch. Most monsters no longer attack you on sight. You should have no problems here, but when an invasion happens in your starting zone and bands of planar monsters are roaming everywhere, you’re going to be looking for backup. A great thing about Rift is that it encourages cooperation.
For example, if you right-click another player or their portrait, you will bring up a menu of things you can do, such as whisper a message, or invite to group. One thing you might not expect in this menu is join public group. That is, you are able to group with another player at will by your own volition.
Some players might not appreciate this pro-active grouping, and it’s polite to just invite, but so far I have yet to see anyone complain about grouping. Rather, I’ve seen complaints that people turn off this feature so others can’t group with them.
How do you do this? Just don’t. This is an MMO. Be friendly. Help others. Cooperate on quest objectives.
Finally, to finish the tutorial section of the game, you will need to participate in a Rift-type group encounter. Note that on both the Guardian and Defiant sides, you should not have to fight an army to get to the final battle. You should have a golem or angelic being clear the way for you, as indicated in your quest. (It’s a little tricky.)
When you enter the area where the final group encounter is taking place, you’ll see a button at the top of the screen inviting you to join a public group (if there is anyone else there to group with–if not, you’re doing it solo and won’t even notice that the quest supports public grouping.)
If you press the join button, you’ll instantly enter a party with the other players in the same area, and you can cooperate to defeat the available enemies and see the end of the tutorial story.
The World Of Rift
Assuming the final quest of your tutorial goes smoothly (congratulations), you will now enter one of the newbie starting areas of your faction, and you are questing and exploring in the main world of Rift, a world divided in half between the Defiants and Guardians.
If you’re a Defiant, you’ll be at the undead-overrun Freemarch end of a great bridge that your people just destroyed as a defensive measure against a Guardian attack.
If you’re a Guardian, you’ll be in leafy Silverwood, dealing with the aftermath of the explosion. You’ll go on to defend your faction from the encroachments of the fay.
As you play the starting areas in the main world, you’ll want to talk to every NPC you can. This is the way to learn a little bit about the story and what is going on. If you talk to the gathering trainers, they will give you additional simple quests for some extra XP (experience points.)
If you have any bonuses from your purchase of the game, you can pick them up at the nearest local mailbox, if you haven’t already.
On the left side of your minimap is a useful button that you can use to show mailboxes, class trainers, or whatever else you need. The larger world map seems a little lacking for the essentials at launch, aside from its use as a battlefield navigator when invasions happen. You can scale the minimap a little bit with the mouse scroll wheel.
Rifts And Invasions
Close by in your starting area, you’re bound to run into your first real rift. You’ll see the vortex coming down from the sky and monsters coming out from another plane, and when you get close, you’ll get the join public group icon at the top of your screen.
Play attention to the dial-like meter under your mini-map. The top number is the stage of the encounter. The earlier the stage that you get to a rift, the more you can contribute before the end, and the more your rewards for participating. At the end of the encounter, when the rift closes, click the glowing bottom button to receive your loot, including rewards of planar currency (see next section).
Regions in Telara will often be invaded by the planes. In this case, you will see special messages on your screen. These are typically your faction leader shouting orders or exchanging words with the enemy leader. A special quest will appear on your quest tracker (see the image above) with objectives.
Invasions can happen at any time, and participation will offer you a chance to earn the best planar currencies, which you can then barter for weapons, armor, and other items. It’s best to participate in each stage if you can. You’ll need to participate in the final boss battle to earn an achievement.
Rewards for doing rifts are called currency, and your currency wallet is viewable by opening your character panel and selecting the currency button on the left.
Planarite is the most basic common currency. As of the March 10, 2011 patch, Everyone should get planarite for contributing to a rift encounter or planar invasion. Blue currency is more rare, and purple is rarer still.
You should be able to locate barter NPC’s for planar currency not far into the game world. On the Defiant side, the barterers are in the Kings March camp. The goods on the rare planar barter NPC are what many players will be trying to earn by the time they leave the zone.
Here is a nice guide to the planar and other currencies that you can expect to accumulate during your adventures in Rift.
As you advance in your lowbie area, it’s a good idea to at least get started on some gathering skills (foraging, mining, butchery.) Gathering can earn you stacks of raw materials that you can sell at the auction house in the capital city, or save for yourself to make useful items.
You can only have 3 of the 9 possible gathering and production crafts at any one time. You can also always drop one and take another. I like to gather everything in the first zone, then decide later which production craft I want to take.
Rift makes gathering very easy. You receive a tracking skill, then it’s a matter of right-clicking the node to be harvested, assuming you have earned enough skill for the node in question. You can see the needed skill when you mouse over the node.
Telarapedia has a nice guide to the interdependencies for the various professions in Rift. You can also learn this information from talking with the different trainers available. Miku has written a crafting guide here.
Where And When Can I Get A Mount
This is a question that is always asked by new players. Rift allows a basic +60% speed mount at level 5 or above, as long as you save 2 pp (platinum pieces, or plat) and 50 gold.
The earliest Defiant mount vendor is on the bluffs above the Kelari Refuge, across the road from Kings March. They offer horses. The Defiant mount vendor in the home city of Meridian also sells a sort of cute gazelle mount, and mechanical mounts.
Guardian horses are sold just off the road south of Argent Glade. Valmera (these are very cool looking) are also found in the home city of Sanctum on the Guardian side.
Collectors edition owners get a free turtle (Ancient Tartagon) mount, in case you inevitably wonder where in the world the two-headed turtle mounts came from. For pics and lists, try the ZAM Mount guide or IGN Mount Guide.
To activate and use a mount, you’ll need to right-click the icon of the mount in your bags. This will add it to your mount collection, which you can then find by going to your character sheet (“c” by default) and clicking the mount tab. Now you can drag the mount icon to make it usable on your skill bar.
When Is The First Dungeon
Another popular question! The first dungeons for both factions start at level 17, and the quests in the first region will naturally lead you into these dungeons. Rift Junkies has a great guide section to dungeons and a lot of other things.
The Defiants have Iron Tombs, an undead-infested catacomb, and the Guardians have Realm Of The Fay, which is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful places in the game. You can reach the dungeons of the opposite faction (teleport to dungeon) by joining an automatically created group in the LFG (looking for group) tool on your toolbar. This will also give you a daily quest if you have not exceeded the weekly limit.
The Raid Situation
A “raid” is formed from any group larger than five players. A small group can also be converted to a raid, which can be preferred by healers for practical targeting purposes. It’s very easy to get into your first raids in Rift via invasions or rift situations in the starting zones. You just need to press the “join public group” button.
The raid panel is opened with the “y” key. The raid leader is indicated by a small icon on this panel, next to player 1 in group 1 by default. The raid leader has the power to drag and drop raid members, and also kick (disconnected players, for example, to make room for active players when the raid limit is reached.) Most raiding in Rift happens at the max level for the greatest challenges and best rewards.
A common problem that some players have in Rift is that raid situations will push computers to their limits. If you’re having performance issues in raids, especially when fighting raid bosses, Trion added a toggle to hide spell FX of other players. You can find this check box in settings -> interface -> combat.
There’s No Place Like Home
The home cities of the Guardians and the Defiants are Sanctum and Meridian, respectively. You can travel to your home city at any time once you leave the tutorial, but if you quest normally you should reach it some time after level 10.
Here you’ll find all the amenities, including vendors, clothing dyes, crafting facilities, and the office to start a guild. When you’re selling your junk, don’t miss the little “Sell All Sellables” button in the lower right corner of every vendor panel. It’s a nice time-saver.
You’ll want to start rounding up the starter quests in your home city, which serve as an introduction to the main figureheads of your faction, and also send you on a little tour. Be sure to visit the bank to unload anything you’ve been hoarding.
Be sure to check the minimap options to track what you’re looking for. This makes navigation a little easier than picking out names and faces.
The most important thing to do on your first visit to your capital city is to pick up the remaining souls for your calling (the ones you didn’t choose in the starter area.) As of patch 1.4, you no longer need to do complicated, time-consuming quests for these. Just pick them up from your calling trainer.
You will still need to earn your calling’s PvP soul (only needed if you intend to seriously PvP) by doing PvP, earning favor, and purchasing it with favor from the barterer in the PvP service area in the capital.
Souls And Roles
Once you’ve acquired more souls for your calling, you have the option to use them in your current role, or a new role. Your chosen set of three souls is called a role.
The idea of a role is to select three souls that work well together to fulfill a role–be it a damage-absorbing tank, a damage-dealing DPS class, a healer, or whatever other special purpose you want for your style of gameplay, like soloing or PvP.
To try a new soul in the current role that you set up in the tutorial, you either need to have zero points in that soul, or pay your calling trainer (mage, rogue, etc.) and pay a small fee to reset your points to zero. Then you can click the center soul icon of a soul tree and swap for a different soul tree.
To start up a completely new set of three souls, you need to pay a steeper fee to your calling trainer to purchase a new role. You should now see another little icon at the bottom of your soul tree window. Click the icon to go to the new role, then click activate. Click the blank central icons to fill up the new blank role with three souls.
Now you’re ready to allocate points in new souls and try something completely new! Even better, you can still swap back and forth to your old role(s) as long as you’re not in combat, adapting to the situation on the battlefield. To make role-swapping faster, you can also hotkey these roles to your skill bars on the roles tab of the skills window (P by default). Don’t forget to skill up any new skills you gain by your point distribution.
Aside from open-world PvP (player versus player) activities, the PvP battlegrounds in RIFT are called Warfronts. The first Warfront, Black Garden, is unlocked at level 10. The second Warfront is called The Codex and is unlocked at level 20. The third, unlocked at level 30, is called Whitefall Steppes. The fourth Warfront, Port Scion, is not unlocked until level 50. Open the PvP window and click the join button to queue for a Warfront. The PvP tab at the bottom of the window will show you a few of your stats. You earn a currency called favor in these WF’s that allow you to barter for gear and even horses at the PvP vendors in your capital city.
Note that you will not start ranking up in PvP until you hit 50, when a new stat called Prestige is unlocked. After ranking up, you can access the higher rank PvP vendors. Note that for some PvP rewards, you will also need faction reputation/notoriety, so you may want to take that into account. For more information, see our L50 Guide. The coming patches in Aug/Sept 2011 are supposedly going to bring PvP improvements and a larger scale RVR Warfront.
There is far more to learn about Rift than what I’ve covered in this guide. A few more tips:
If you log out in a city or inn, you will have a “rested” buff icon. This will cause you to accumulate restedness while you are logged out. When you log back in, you will receive rest bonus to XP gain, as indicated by a small marker on your XP bar. The longer you are logged out, the more rest bonus you will receive. This mechanic is to help players with less time to play.
Your vault in the city has a row of purchasable slots at the bottom of the main storage space. These slots allow you to slot bags, which you can then open for more space. The outfitter profession can craft bags, and you can buy these from other players at the auction house. Ten-slot wool bags are a useful and relatively cheap commodity for lower level characters.
Try these links for more topics in more advanced Rifting.
If you identify something important that we’ve skipped, please add the information in the comments to help future readers. We also welcome questions, which might help us make the guide better for other players. Thanks, and have fun playing Rift!