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Rift endless free trial arrives under a year after launch

Capped at level 20 - Telara your friends.

It's taken MMO Rift 11 months to introduce an effectively endless free trial.

Rift Lite arrives today with game patch 1.7 and offers anyone with a Trion account 20 levels of free play. And there's no time limit, so you can take as long as you like reaching that level cap.

But World of Warcraft held out for more than six years before introducing an almost identical 20-level free trial - is this an admission that Rift activity is dropping off?

One of Rift's rifts and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. A COINCIDENCE?!

Would that be so surprising? Rift is no longer the exciting new kid on the block - the colossal Star Wars: The Old Republic is.

Or we could be reading too much into this; Trion's motivation for the free trial may be no more spectacular than 'it was on our to-do list'.

Plus, we're never likely find out how well Rift is really doing, anyway. Trion is a private company and has never released subscriber numbers. And there are no prying outside investors to persuade Trion to do so.

We ought to be content in the knowledge that Rift is "a healthy business and a successful game" - that's what executive producer Scott Hartsman told Eurogamer back in November. He also said Rift had "definitely been growing since launch".

Rift patch 1.7 is known as Carnival of the Ascended, and it brings "quality of life" improvements to the fantasy MMO.

PVP advancement is "smoother" and has better rewards, and Expert dungeons have been overhauled to offer more options and better treasures. Endgame loot has also been improved.

Rift players can now be married, and there's a two-person River of Souls Chronicle that probably makes for a wonderful honeymoon.

A new Master-mode dungeon has been added called Caduceus Rise as well.