Thought I'd take a little time to post some of my observations and impressions on the game for those interested in coming over to Rift from WoW and some of the things you should expect that are different, better, or worse. Keep in mind most of this is based on personal opinion.
As a bit of a background I come from a roleplaying server on WoW, (not extremely progressed as far as server raid status goes) but I had a Cataclysm i543 Paladin Tank and played pretty dedicated from around the beginning of WotLK on. I love WoW, and I think it's a fantastic game and don't expect me to be bashing it throughout this post. It's been good to me and most of us, so I'll give WoW and Blizzard credit where it's due. Secondly, I've played FFXI, FFXIV and many of the other free-to-play titles out there (Vindictus, D&D Online, etc.) so I like to think my breadth of MMO knowledge is pretty fair.
Now, in WoW one thing we all could certainly appreciate was the solid structure of the game. We could almost always count on Blizzard doing what they needed to do in order to assure us all balance was kept in tact, questing and leveling progression was fluid (more so in Cataclysm) and grinding was kept to a minimum outside of kill quests, some longer than others. -- Rift isn't much different in this respect. The early questing seems a lot more cut and dry than the mid to later teens and on in that a majority of it revolves around collection and killing quotas. The quotas in any case aren't painful as I've seen in some newer MMOs, they keep it intact, simple and straight forward. Though the difference really kicks in at later levels. By the time you work your way to the end of the zones and you're wrapping up the last of the story line quests in Rift, you feel a sense of ownership; and actual INTEREST in killing or defeating whatever it is that's been causing the trouble in that zone. That's only more intensified by the fact that these same end zone bosses are sending raid and raid at you and literally changing the landscape of what could be considered safe zones (which I wager to say doesn't exist really in Rift.). In other words, you want to stick it to them by the time you wrap it up. You see a similar effect in WoW in the Cataclysm zones-- there's a climax at the end of them, but the defining difference here is that Rift offers that experience from the second you start playing, not after days or weeks of outdated progression.
There's a big divide in the community of the current position Trion has on it's user interface. Addons currently aren't supported and posts from Trion seem to lean toward the possibility they won't exist at all. WoW offers the addon option which virtually allows you to create a completely customized user interface set up the way you want it. This being said, you need to attain these addons understanding they're not backed by Blizzard. Addons have allegedly been the source of botting and other malicious attempts on the games balance and structure, but overall we understand that the highest rated, most commonly used Addons are generally safe and offer us the sort of experience we're looking for user interface-wise. Rift offers something a bit different in that it comes stocked with the ability to practically set up the user interface to your specifications. Almost everything on the screen can have an altered position, bars be separated and placed away from others, vertically or horizontally. Mechanic icons can be shifted. I've only encountered a few things that can't be moved (i.e. portrait action point icons) but generally the user interface comes stocked pretty well. One thing I noticed, as a tank, is that threat isn't as clearly distinguished as I'd care for it to be. Flashing red on a character portrait is only slightly advising. Note this is more of an issue in a 5-man, standard dungeon group, but in larger Rift or Public groups a clearer 'Raid-Frames' set up kicks in, similar to WoWs newer raid frame interface. Overall, I believe the edge is with WoW, due to the complete flexibility, but if the lack of addons comes with addition game security, especially in this youthful stage, Trion's position is understandable.
I've always appreciated WoW's charm. The graphics have been simple, modified only slightly here and there (water rendering, etc.) but the allure has always stood clear with solid art design and style. Nothing looks like WoW and that's a good thing. Now if I were a parent, perhaps concerned about violence and graphic scenes, I would lean toward offering WoW to my child rather than Rift for the fact that WoW avoids a lot of the gory, violent interactions that Rift offers. That being said, for older, more mature players, Rift offers a bold breath of fresh air. Most MMOs that I've experienced (Short of perhaps Conan) have been clean, user-friendly for all ages and relatively light on graphic violence. Rift isn't so. One of the first encountered death animations literally shows your target fall forward on his own sword and slowly slide down the blade, impaled, to the ground. You won't see that in WoW, boys and girls, I assure you. While we're on the topic of animations, WoW and Rift both have -excellent- animation. Even so, I still have to say Rift takes the cake on the animation side of things as well. The on-death animations, striking, movement, mounted movement-- there's a fine detail in each you don't see in WoW. It seems less static. A lot of this simply could be because of how new the game is, and some will argue that, but WoW, as old as its base engine may be, has powerful animation scripting and I think that Rift can pull off what it did is impressive. Finally, concerning world and terrain graphics. Rift wins here again hands down. There's the standard 'copy-and-paste' objects you'll see in every MMO, but some of the unique structures and models are absolutely beautiful. There's nothing in gaming right now quite like Running through a forest laced with cobwebs and danging cacooned corpses while staring into the distance at a Death Rift and its ominous black tentacles foreboding the passage of any player on their way down the path.
Dynamic Content -
Back in the day, I recall by buddy and I sitting there in Vent, talking about how we wished in WoW that when we did something, it changed the landscape of the area we were in. Then along came WotLK and with some of the zones, as you progressed you entered a phased area which may actually change according to how much questing you do. This was a wonderful feature in most respects because it created a sense of accomplishment as you quested. You didn't save X person and then come back and find that X person was again trapped in the same cage. It was refreshing. A few issues, though, started popping up in Cataclysm when phasing would separate players in zones depending on quest progression status. What's the problem here? Well, it's an MMO. When you start separating players, it doesn't serve the purpose it was meant to serve, or not in that respect. Overall that drawback was limited, but it existed and in certain cases it was downright frustrating. Anyone that's trekked the new content of WoW would likely agree (how many nodes did you fly down toward for them to disappear on you?). Rift takes a bit of a different approach in that rifts open in the sky (literally over just about any area on the map, quest hubs no excluded) and raids of monsters come out. Now, if these monsters aren't supressed, they -invade- friendly footholds and take control of them. If they take control of them, they send additional raids to your actual player city. In other words, if these rifts aren't fended off, the entire landscape of the player map can change. NPCs can be slaughtered and quests can become shutoff. Zones for recovering can be locked out. It created a vested interest for a player to maintain these zones by fighting off the enemy. And yes, the rift zones actually take on a graphical difference (mostly in the ground texturing, sometimes with more) and no, players aren't excluded from these dynamic events. Instead, everyone's invited--
Public and Private Groups -
WoW has the best grouping system for dungeons and raiding out, hands down. The dungeon finder tool is a life-saver and it makes the grueling manual task of assembling groups streamlines, and work across servers. Unfortunately, DPSers still have a hefty wait in queues, but this is more a situation of player availability than the convenience of the tool. Rift doesn't currently have this sort of tool in place, so yes, it's back to the old "LFM DD, Need Tank and DPS" in the local channels. It's not all bad, at least not now, but it can certainly be frustrating sometimes when assembling groups for certain dungeons. The place where rift sort of has a slight advantage in still using this method is that the classes that players have are a lot less rigid. I believe I saw an option for 5 different soul set-ups (AKA Specs), and no calling really pigeon holes you into DPS/Heals/Tanking. So, while the convenience of a tool that assembles a group for you isn't there, the rigidity of only having a couple of classes to combine is pretty much gone. Get five people, it's likely you can run a dungeon. Rift also offers a 'Public Grouping' system, which allows players approaching certain targeted areas (rifts, footholds, invasions) to join a public group with anyone set to accept them in that same area. So, your group could go from 5-15 in a minute, as people approach the rift you're targeting and you all work together and receive loot strictly dependent on your personal contribution to the goal. If you get in at the end of a rift raid, you get only a few items. If you participate wholly in a massive raid, you get rewarded handsomely. The system works brilliantly in that respect. At this moment I can't comment on raiding, but from what I understand this public group option doesn't work in actual zoned raids, which seems unfortunate.
I think that's about all I'll post for now. If any readers are looking for information on anything else in particular, please let me know. Thanks for taking the time.
Lucianus - Estrael - PvE-RP