So, a while back, I promised a friend of mine I’d write up a beginner’s guide to rifts. So, here we are, some time later, with me FINALLY getting it put together. Unfortunately, ended up with a fire rift, so it might might be a bit difficult to see some things. Still, I’ve included screenshots of every phase for this particular rift, and if anyone’s having any confusion, hopefully this will help out some!

A tear out in the game world, and on the minimap.

A tear out in the game world, and on the minimap.

So, first things first. All rifts start out as tears (not tears like crying, but tears as in tearing a page out of a book). You’ll be able to see all tears and rifts in your current zone both on your minimap, as well as the world map. Each kind of tear has a different color associated with them. Minor tears are outlined in blue, while raid tears are outlined in yellow. I believe that major tears are supposed to be outlined in red, but I can’t confirm at the moment. They may still be outlined in blue, however. As a new player to Rift, you’ll only be worried about major and minor tears, though. Some point after you started off (in Freemarch for Defiants, Silverwood for Guardians), you should have gotten an ability called a Planar Lure (or something to that effect). You can use this at any minor or major tear in the world to open a rift.

A rift opening up.

A rift opening up.

When you first open a rift (in the case of these images, a fire rift), the tear kind of … swirls around, and the ground around it takes the color of the associated plane. With a fire rift, it will be red; with earth, a brownish-yellow color; life is green; water is a bluish color; death is a dark purplish black; and air is a white color. Each rift is usually specific to a particular zone or event. Over time, this has changed a bit (specifically with Planar Attunement, a post-50 situation). Even so, each rift will grant experience upon getting to the next stage, as well as granting reputation with a particular planar faction for each enemy killed. The enemies from rifts themselves do not grant experience, though, just advancing to the next stage.

Stage One

Stage One

In this image, you can see the circle with a number, a little loot bag, as well as under that, the rift name and the objectives for the stage of the rift. As I said previously, each rift is specific to a zone or an event (some rifts only occur during world events). Each rift also has its own name, as well as its own objectives. These rifts can obviously be in occurrence multiple times in the same zone, but this is of note for achievement hunters, since you’ll need to close rifts specific to each zone in order to get those achievements. That aside, each rift will have at least five stages. Occasionally, some will have six, and on rare occasion, seven. If you’re out by yourself as a low level player, you probably won’t get more than the first three stages, but that’s okay! The circle indicates also what stage of the rift you’re currently on, as well as a little loot bag. Loot will be accessible to you after closing the rift after it has reached a minimum of stage three. If you successfully manage to get past stage three, each additional stage thereafter will grant you more loot – from Discordant Energy, to planarite, to planar essences, and occasionally even gear.

Stage Two

Stage Two

Upon completing a stage of a rift, there’s a big announcement, “STAGE COMPLETE,” that flashes across the screen, and more enemies will spawn. The enemies will always spawn at the glowing beams of light. To note, in water and air rifts, this can be deceiving, since many of the effects of the rifts themselves can look like these beams of light. With each new stage, there are new objectives to complete. Usually, this just involves killing a bunch of enemies of a certain type, but some rifts can vary. Some of them will have you click on objects, or talk to an NPC, or protect another NPC for a set duration before the rift progresses to the next stage. In general, the second stage will be harder than the first, the third more difficult than the second, and so forth.

Stage Three

Stage Three

In general, the third stage will only have one or two enemies, which will be stronger than any of the previous enemies of the first two stages. This is also (usually) the first stage that is timed in a rift. You have a set amount of time (shown on the rift indicator), to complete the stage in order for it to progress to the next. If you don’t beat the timer, then you just have to finish the stage in order to close the rift. That’s okay, too. Many times, getting past the third stage can require a group in order to get past it because of the strength of the enemy or enemies.

Stage Four

Stage Four

Once you’ve gotten past Stage Three, the rift indicator actually changes a little bit. There’s now a glowing aura around it, the graphic dependent on the plane it’s associated with. In this case, fire to indicate a fire rift. Anything beyond stage three in most rifts is considered a “Bonus Stage,” meaning that finishing these stages is not necessary in order to actually seal the rift. After you’ve reached this stage, despite the timer, it will automatically close after 15 minutes if you do not meet the timer and do not kill the enemies. If you’ve taken part in the rift, you’ll still be granted rift loot (indicated by the little loot bag). Since you’ve gotten this far, every stage you complete will add cumulative rift loot until the rift is closed. Stage Four is usually like stages One and Two, but combined – generally including loads of enemies to kill. Usually, this is the most difficult stage to solo, even if you’ve managed to get past the third stage. This is purely because of the timer more than the enemies themselves.

Stage Five

Stage Five

Most rifts will have their final phase at Stage Five. This particular rift actually goes on for six phases. In this case, we basically see a repeat of stage three, but with two enemies instead of one, making it a bit on the side of difficult alone. This certainly doesn’t make it impossible, but be warned that it still can be quite hard to manage, since generally these more powerful enemies are linked, and must be taken at the same time (though not necessarily killed together). It’s yet another bonus stage, so there’s a timer to meet here, too.

Finally, we come to the last stage. The only limitation on this one insofar as time goes, is fifteen minutes before the rift closes on its own. The main difficulty with the final phase is that the enemy is an elite, indicated by all the spikes around its portrait on the unit frame. You will almost certainly need a group for this stage, so if you can’t complete it by yourself, don’t feel bad. It’s definitely one way to test out your strength, though, and see what you CAN do! It’s also a good way to get used to using some of your abilities that you might not think to use otherwise, since many of these mobs are susceptible to all sorts of control (such as Transmogrify, Fear, Impede, and other snares and stuns).

Stage Six

Stage Six

In addition to all this, any rift has the potential to spawn invaders – groups of mobs that will go out into the world and kill wardstones and/or spawn footholds in various locations out in the world. These are pretty simple, but they’re immune to all offensive effects for about fifteen seconds after they spawn from the rift, so in general, you’re safe from them if they do spawn from a rift you’re currently in progress with (barring proximity aggro and pathing issues). As one final note, there is one big difference between major and minor rifts – everything in a major rift is elite. Everything.

If you’re already a bit familiar with rifts, you’ll probably have noticed there are some crystals on the ground with many of them – green, red and blue ones. Clicking on each of these will give you a different buff. The red one is a stacking damage buff, the green one is a pretty significant HoT, and the blue one is mana/energy regeneration. The HoT and the mana/energy regen buffs do NOT stack, however. Still, I’d see about saving some of these crystals for this phase in order to try to get through it without dying. Some rifts come with other objects, that spawn NPCs that essentially work like bodyguards. However, you can only have one of these bodyguards up at a time, so be warned that if you try to spawn more than one, it will only despawn your previous one. If you’re not familiar with rifts, though, or are just confused on how they work, I hope this guide has helped out!