With Rift's 1/2 Birthday here, I decided to give Trion a gift rather than receive one: resubscribing to Rift and bringing a few friends, at least for a month.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that Rift isn't my ideal game. They've added in a few things that went counter to what I wanted from a living, breathing world: constant grind updates for PvE and PvP, cross realm instant transport to dungeons, and (sort of) free weekly transfers off of shards. Still, I've played World of Warcraft for far too long. At this point, even breaks don't help, since the grind is very apparent. Much like a single player game, I tend to do things once in WoW and I'm done- no need to do it again on an alt. Not only that, but Trion does things better than Blizz these days.
First, updates are much faster in Rift, and bring a good chunk of changes. They can't compare to Asheron's Call 1 or 2's monthly updates or GM events, but they're not too bad. You at least get some new dailies (usually simple tasks you can do around town), plus content updates, which reminds me of sandbox games. For example, Rift has released increased security for player accounts, appearance tabs, world pvp dailies, and alternative war front (think BG) objectives from time to time- in 6 months. In that time, WoW's added... guild quests, something Rift launched with. WoWheads may say, "Hey, Blizz is adding appearance tabs, allow you to change your weapon, and will probably do wpvp dailies too!" This may be true, however, unlike Blizz, Trion gives players more freedom, and faster too. The appearance tabs (yes, plural- players can make up to 4 outfits without it taking up extra bag space) aren't restricted with some arbitrary "no silliness" rule. I've seen people running around looking like Mickey Mouse. If someone wants to do that, more power to them!
World PvP dailies and rifts are a lot like the world PvP events I have to try to organize in WoW on a weekly basis, and sometimes better when it's a rough month. The game puts objectives and a reward that is on-par with instanced content (maybe even better, since players seem to do their best to make sure they get done despite high ranks, something that WoW's "pvp zones" lack very much). This brings players from both factions into the hotspot, turning zones into something like the "glory days of Hillsbrad" (which was essentially zerg vs counter-zerg). The system especially shines when you add in the PvP Rifts- think capture the flag with multiple neutral flags. Even if you get zerged, you can form up with a few folks and intercept stragglers with "flags." It's a simple objective that adds a lot to gameplay, and since players summon them, it gives us some freedom to coordinate things. The best part is that the game announces the rifts to both factions, so everyone knows where they can find some good world pvp.
The "alternative objectives" for war fronts (like WoW BGs) changes the regular rule set when it's in place. A simple capture the flag map (think Warsong Gulch) becomes much more complicated: flags become neutral. Capturing a flag only puts it in your base, and the enemy can steal it and take it to their base to score. Oh, and after the first flag is captured, the game spawns two neutral flags. You can go from a 2-0 advatnage to 2-3 loss in minutes. The game's pace becomes much faster and the strategies can get pretty wild. This vastly beats out Blizzard's different maps with largely the same gameplay (I loved the new maps in Cata, don't get me wrong, but the gameplay only changed a little- Trion's method is vastly more noticeable and enjoyable).
And this is just the pvp stuff. Despite Rift being a theme park game with a largely pve oriented crowd, the developers actually pay attention to their PvP crowd. The changes that took place while I was assisting my guild in WoW's 4.2 make me much happier with a game I already would have stuck with if not for social purposes. Blizzard is trying to play catch up at the moment, and I don't feel like it's quite as strong, and certainly not as swift. Rift is still a theme park game, but by adding more world events, the game world feels much more organic, and I'm seeing familiar faces after only a few days of transfering to a new shard. Some may be gone in a few weeks if a large guild comes over after "dominating" their old shard, but for now, world pvp is alive and well. Game mechanics enforce a reliance on other people, unlike WoW's new "pvp zone" that gives people more of a reason to avoid their enemy than engage them.