RIFTS Ultimate Edition Review


The Book 


The moment I got RIFTS Ultimate Edition and looked at the cover I felt excitement! On the cover is something I actually recognise and not a dolphin headed monster from a sourcebook yet to be released! This front cover shows a Ley-Line Walker conjuring up a fireball; sadly I think he is punching above his weight as an Alien Intelligence is emerging from a RIFT right behind him!



RIFTS Ultimate Edition


If you don’t know what RIFTS is all about then I suggest you read our review for the original RIFTS Main Rule Book as this review is going to concentrate on any improvements or failings that this updated version may contain. 


The first 40 pages do a fantastic job of describing the setting and giving it some flavour. One of the main bonuses of this section is that it brings the RIFTS game up to date, you see a lot has happened lore wise since RIFTS was first released in the 90’s and it is good to see that this new edition starts AFTER Free Quebec has broken away from the coalition and the Siege of Tolkeen has ended.  


We also get little mini updates on what is happening around the world, these little descriptions are great as they paint a picture of what you are likely to get should you purchase the respective sourcebooks.  


However this book focuses mainly on North America and there is a wealth of information ranging from Canada to New Mexico. Even without the sourcebooks an imaginative GM could easily harvest this information and come up with some great game ideas. 



Character Creation 


There are 34 OCC’s (slightly more if you include individual dragon species) to choose from in this game. Some of the Old OCC’s have been tweaked for the better and some for the worse. 


The winners 


The Coalition – Have been given more love! There are multiple coalition OCC’s so it would be a doddle to play the game from their perspective. I am really pleased with this because I enjoy running games from the Coalition perspective, I think the best villains are the one who do not know they are villains, and they feel they are doing everything for the greater good. Some of the deepest games can be run from the Coalition perspective especially if the players don’t know anything about the world of RIFTS! 


Mages – Have seen some love too, the spell casting system has been improved so that little Timmy (Palladium Forum member will be familiar with him) can no longer kill a mage with a hand full of rocks! The spells themselves have also seen much love, although they are just copy/pastes from the old RIFTS book and World Book:16 The Federation of magic/The Book of Magic. Still it’s nice to see them here (even if some are missing). In all better Spells and better casting rules = WIN! 


Adventurers & scholars have had some love too! A Vagabond has the neat new ability to “Eyeball a Fella” this gives the Vagabond a unique insight into his quarry such as whether he/she is rich or poor, fit or unwell, being truthful for lying. The Rogue Scholar is now an expert story teller and teacher, he can literally pass his skill son to others.  It is great to see these “lesser” classes get this kind of love and attention. 


The Losers 


Cyber-Knights – This paragraph is likely to court some controversy but when I look at the Cyber-Knight now I see some kind of bastardised anti-tech OCC mixed with an already fairly weak and uninspiring class. So Cyber-Knights have a useless metal spine and a Zen like ability to tell when a rail-gun or missile is going to be fired at them….. OK but what happened to them fighting the supernatural? I say make their Zen-Combat apply to all combat OR just bin it completely (see I told you this would be controversial). 


The Strange 


Dragons – They aren’t losers per se, the new Dragon Hatchlings are really cool, really cool BUT what happened to the old Dragon Hatchling Breeds and where are the stats for these new Dragons as adults? 


Still I have to commend Palladium for letting us play as Dragons in the first place as they are freaking awesome! Add to this the wonderful guide about Dragons mentality and the way they live and behave and you have a winning class right here! 


The Elemental Fusionist – Sorry I just don’t like him I think he is crap. Wait I think he is brilliant. No I am not sure! OK I do like him but he is a little odd, a kind of low powered Warlock mixed with a Super-powered Hobo, aw damn what’s not to like! Like the opposing elements they represent I find myself having opposing opinions of the class. 


The New Mechanics for Rolling Characters - these are fantastic and really add to the role-play aspect of your character. In the past you rolled your dice and either that was it or you rolled a character so bad it would not be feasible for him/her to live (we have all rolled a character that had 7 or less for all their stats). This led people to house rule character gen dice rolls such as roll all stats then assign them or roll an extra D6 for all rolls and discard the lowest etc. whilst all of these techniques work (and can still be used) the ideas in this book work really well in that they encourage you to keep the poor dice rolls so that you may boost other attributes. So if you roll a dunce no worries you can boost your strength or agility, conversely if you roll a weakling you would boost your Mental Endurance for a will of iron and so on. 


I liked these rules because I like my characters to be flawed in some way and this is a great way of doing that whilst making sure your character has strengths that would fit his chosen class. 


The Mistakes 


You will need this page which contains all of the errata and corrected mistakes! 


I commend Palladium books for fixing these mistake but wonder how and why some of them were made in the first place, for instance Crazies getting a better Auto-Dodge than Juicers!?! C’mon guys. 


Auto-Dodge and Power Creep 


To be perfectly honest the power creep does not bother me in the slightest, as the game develops new writers are going to want to add their new cool spell or weapon. As RIFTS Ultimate Edition is set after the majority of the World Books I personally believe that it re-calibrates the power levels. 


I can understand Crazies getting Auto-Dodge too, I think it’s fair. What I am not into is hand to hand commando giving characters Auto-Dodge, for me Auto-Dodge is either an innate ability or reflects some kind of super human quality and I don’t see hand to hand commando turning someone into Neo from The Matrix! 





I would like you to read this review alongside the original RIFTS review because I believe you need both to understand where I am coming from. If you think the above review is bashing the game you would be wrong. Whilst this game suffers from some of the old problems (the rules are slightly better organised this time) it also does a lot to improve your gaming experience. 


Another point is that this book represents better value for money than the previous RIFTS book in that you can do a lot more with this book as a standalone where as with the old RIFTS you really did need to buy the Book of Magic and the Games Master guide. 


This book is fantastic and is a great step up from the old RIFTS Main Rule Book and is therefore Highly Recommended. I only point out the flaws here because this is my definitive RIFTS review. 


This book is my number one go to for all rules relating to RIFTS and supersedes the previous book completely.


5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended  


You may also like to read:


Phase World Dead Reign Dead Reign Civilization Gone RIFTS Essentials


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