Herein forthwith shall I review my few hours of the Rift
beta! This is all kind of shorthandy, probably doesn't mean a lot to people who don't play WoW, but since those people are a small minority with no redeeming worth, we can ignore them.
Let me start with the final conclusion. Rift
is a good game. If it had no monthly fee, I would buy it and play it. The problem is, as soon as you get a monthly fee, suddenly it's a direct comparison. Almost nobody pays for two monthly-fee games. Not just because that's a lot of money to pay, but more importantly, the second you pick up another one, you're suddenly getting less for your money out of the first game! You only have so much time in a month, and moreso only so much MMO-playing time. I can pay $13/mo to play WoW for 20 hours a week, or I can pay $26/mo to play WoW for 10 hours and Rift for 10. Not cost-effective!
Rift is better than Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online. It's very similar to those games (it falls into the "drab brown dwarf-packed medieval fantasy" realm they fit in. I dare you to distinguish screenshots of the 3 with the UI hidden! That sounds like a fun facebook game), but does everything in a more streamlined, easier way, and feels less clunky. Is it better than City of Heroes, Champions Online, or DC Universe Online? I dunno, those are a whole different kettle of fish. I'm inclined to say no, because they interest me, while this brown world of trees and goblins really doesn't.
Make no mistake, Rift is a true WoW clone. I mean, TRUE. In any place where they could have done something any millions of other ways, they did it exactly the way WoW works (I instinctively tapped P when I wanted to see my list of skills, and N to see my list of talents - both worked!). Yes, there are differences and innovations, but at its core, it's not just the same type of game, or "inspired by", it's clearly the result of people poring over WoW with notebooks in hand, scratching their chins and saying "mmmm, yes. Indeed". My favorite example was their totally original
"Transmogrify into a squirrel" spell as opposed to "Polymorph into a sheep".
They did a good job on this cloning, so the resulting game is good and solid. It's still not as polished and good as WoW of course - they're not Blizzard. And that's the fundamental problem. By duplicating WoW, they are explicitly making it one or the other, and they are guaranteed to lose there. If you want to play something like this, play WoW. It's better. If they had done something unique (see Champions Online for example), then that can appeal to people who are into superheroes instead, or who prefer the way Champions does things, since there is an actual difference there.
And hey, I am sick and tired of drab brown forests. Look at WoW, people! It's gorgeous and colorful! It's a fantasy
, make it fantastic
! The real world alone is more colorful and pretty than these games, and it's real
The class/skill system in Rift is pretty cool, though it does result in a large pile of repetitive skills (since you get to mix any 3 'souls', you're guaranteed a very redundant set of basic bolts and blasts, because they had to make sure every soul offered those basic features). One other thing they have going for them that I want WoW to rip off is a very small thing that is nice: AOE looting!
I have this main complaint about Rift, and this is why it will never come close to WoW: they appear to have copied WoW the way it worked back when they started making Rift, several years ago. But in all that time, WoW has been improving. All the quests I've seen in Rift (up to level 10ish) have been totally blah. Not once have I manned a catapult or ridden a giant's back, not once have a I flown a bat around dropping bombs, and not once have I changed the world around me with my victory. I collected things and killed things. Total basic MMO biz. That's fine, but it definitely doesn't give me any reason to choose this over a game that has all of that good stuff going on constantly.
So Rift: it's better than WoW was 5 years ago. If you don't mind brown.