Whoa now, put down those pitchforks and torches. And if you would tell the angry mob behind you to disperse, that'd be swell too. You see, I'd rather not be put to the sword for telling the truth, and I'd rather not be a martyr to the time honored tradition of killing the messenger. What's the message you ask that would prompt you to entertain my lethal demise, you ask?
It's like Warcraft.
Yikes! Watch the pointy end of the sword there, big fella. It is like Warcraft no matter how much you think its not. Now I know you don't want to hear it, but playing the Beta for Rifts got me to thinking... Actually, it's the chat that got me to thinking about the topic and to be honest, you can't go ten minutes in the game without somebody drawing a direct comparison to Blizzard's flagship. I'll be upfront and honest with you though, it is like Warcraft. Instead of having a talent tree, you have souls. You can have different talent specs like Warcraft. You can have different builds. The combat is eerily similar. The 'rift' encounters are pretty much fluff and even the opening for both factions reeks of the Death Knight starting zone, save that you're the Scarlet Crusade getting sacked by tall, dark and undead.
Surprisingly though, that's not the focus of this particular blog entry. After all, every new game is like warcraft if you listen to their chat channels long enough, even if there are crucial differences. And then the Holy War begins. It almost makes you want to cry, really. Players point out the similarities. Other players point out the differences. But then it gets worse. They start to point out the most inane facts, like, golly, there were MMOs before Warcraft... And before that, there was pen and pencil games before those. And these apologists are apparently the only ones that realized that yes, there were games before Warcraft and because of that, their detractors are wrong, wrong, wrong.
So then, why is 'it' like Warcraft? Not just Rifts, which is like warcraft. A more serious Warcraft, if you must know, but Warcraft nonetheless. That aside, the question they should be asking themselves instead of presenting strawman arguments is how and why did Warcraft become the standard? Why doesn't anybody ever say, "That's like Everquest." or even, "That's like Guild Wars." By and large, they just don't. Sure, Warcraft borrowed from everything before it, but unlike everything before it, its apparently now the gold standard sure to incite an argument in any chat you visit.
Go on. Try it.
I'm sure you have a beta on your PC. Maybe even Rifts. Let's perform an experiment. Or maybe you're just bored and need a laugh. Type the following message into the chat window-- "This is like Warcraft."
Done yet? Was that fun, or what? But back to the point, yes, little Timmy, it IS like Warcraft; even though there have been a number of successful MMOs before that, who in turn sponged off the material before them. It's like Warcraft because Warcraft is memorable and successful. It's a fact that the fanboys for the game that's not Warcraft choose to ignore while citing how much Warcraft has drawn from other titles... They choose to ignore that yes, it has done so, but it has done so in a wildly popular and financially successful manner that few other MMOs have achieved no matter how much the fact is denied in a day where subscriptions are supposedly dead.
It's like Warcraft because nobody else is like Warcraft, regardless of how much Blizzard borrowed from classic RPG structures. I think it's time to own up to that fact, while simultaneously acknowledging that it's not such a bad thing.
As far as Rifts is concerned, it's like a serious Warcraft and somewhat prettier. If you're bored with Warcraft's story and mechanics, there might be just enough here done differently to put a new spin on it; though by differently, we're talking about the difference between one Warcraft patch to the next.
Frankly, I'm thinking this game goes f2p inside a year.