A review of Rifts Ultimate Edition
Rifts Ultimate Edition is a Rifts 1.5 edition of sorts. It updates the original Rifts Main Book to be more standard with new editions of other games in the Palladium line
Content (Grade - A )
This is an all in one book that allows you to play in the world of Rifts without needing any other books whatsoever. It contains everything you need:
World Information Character Classes for all spectrums. Psionics Magic Equipment Character Creation Skills Combat Rules
In this regard Palladium generally succeeds in all it's books. They don't want their customers to have to buy multiple books to play and there are many a Palladium fan that plays one game but not another. That is admirable in this day and age of needing multiple books to cover everything to play most games that have things like Tech, Magic and Psionics.
Overall Layout (Grade - D )
This is the first time Palladium really changed the layout organization and this is one of the first things I have to criticize. It is sort of disjointed in where and when things are introduced. Character classes are introduced before we know what Character Classes are. Magic and Psionics are introduced and explained as to how they work in the rules before we have read the rules. The above is how it is essentially presented in the book and while it is a big drawback to me it can be worked around though it may seem difficult for the uninitiated in Palladium games.
Overall Writing (Grade - B+ )
The writing in general is Palladium standard. It does a good job of immersing you into the world with some history of how it became what it is as well as some "present" pieces to show what it is like now. It also inserts some things to tie it back to Chaos Earth in places.
I'd say it is definitely one of the best Core Rule books 2nd only to maybe Palladium Fantasy.
Art (Grade - A- )
Palladium has long be held, at least to me, as one of the companies that have really good art by and large. That has been largely lacking in my opinion in the last few years but recently has changed back for the better.
This book however does and an excellent job of portraying the world through its art. Across the board the art is mostly top notch to me. There is the odd piece that may have you go "huh?" but this books has so much more excellent art than bad and the rest is usually good.
World Information (Grade - B )
In comparison to the old Rifts Main Book, RUE includes significantly more information in regards to the coming of the Rifts and the world of Rifts. My only real criticism here is that I wish there was more for a Core book.
Character Classes (Grade - A )
I have no complaints of this area in general. It has enough classes to more or less allow you to play almost anything right out of the box and if there is something you can't do it can easily be adapted into an exiting class in this book.
Individual classes have been improved to bring them in line with the way classes are done by and large in Rifts at this juncture of the games existence.
Psionics (Grade - A )
All I can say about this section is that I think they did really well with this incarnation of their Psionic rules. Rifts seemed to be the game that many rules came into essentially their final incarnation. Psionics was no eception and truth be told Psionics is one the things that seems to work just fine without being really tweaked at all beyond the odd power needing a range tweak but that's my own opinion.
The Classes are quite good and can be very powerful if played right.
Magic (Grade - B )
Magic has had the potential to be Palladium's greatest aspect. In some ways it is. In others not so much. Magics versatility is quite excellent. However prolonged spell casting is relatively difficult to do even moderately so.
The classes are well rounded as to what they can do and the only drawback I see is the low amount PPE most casters have in relation to the number of spells they can have to cast. A major spell caster like a Ley Line Walker (Wizard equivalent) shouldn't have to really rely on technology to protect himself in any circumstance except in an absolute emergency or after a very prolonged encounter.
Equipment (Grade - C )
The upside here is that the equipment there is, is really cool stuff. SAMAS, Enforcer, Glitterboy, Energy Rifles, Body Armour so on and so forth is all cool.
The drawback for me however is there is not much to choose from for the NON CS player. Furthermore their is the traditional Palladium inconsistency in the capabilities of weapons between Infantry, Power Armour and Giant Robots with examples of Infantry or Power Armour Weapons being on par or better than weapons on a Giant Robot. To me that is just poor playtesting and/or vetting during the creation of the items in question. But that is just my opinion on the matter. It also happens in aspect other than weapons as well such as radar and sensors.
Another drawback in specifically in the Coalition section. The book remains set in 100 PA time frame but repeatedly mentions certain pieces of equipment are phased out for newer gear and has some art included of the newer gear, To me that was unnecessary and actually takes away from the coolness factor of the CS gear.
Character Creation (Grade - C )
While this section has everything you need to make a character, it can be daunting and downright confusing for a first timer.
An experienced gamer should be able to get through it without too much issue. Especially if they have played D&D in any incarnation as many things are similar in the basics of Character Creation.
I think the organization and setup could have been better handled across the board and made simpler for the uninitiated to take in. I would recommend a new comer to Rifts specifically and Palladium in general, work with their GM when creating a character until they are comfortable with the process.
Skills (Grade - B )
This section is very broad and in depth to some degree. It covers a LOT of ground and honestly I do not mind having lots of skills. The draw back is the repetition of skills in some cases or skills being in two different categories. Personally I think there could have been more skills and it could use some consolidation in certain cases. Otherwise it is precisely what is there to be.
Combat Rules (Grade - B )
While the problems I personally have with overall rules of the game are infamous by now, this book does indeed present all of the rules you need to play even if you may need to house rule some things to make it work more smoothly. In this regard it does good job of giving you what you need.
It is a matter of the tools are there you just have to figure out how best to use them.
I am not going to get into a diatribe about the Palladium game rules as that is a cross line spanning argument that is not for a place such as this review. Suffice to say the rules do have issues. All games do to one degree or another.
Overall rating and recommendation (Grade - B )
While this book does have it's issues in a variety of places, it is a good example of a core book and it does give you everything you need to play in the world that is Rifts. That is a cool world to play in and I fully recommend getting it.