I am starting to get the feeling that, no matter the MMO that is to be released, fan-boys and trolls (mainly trolls) will join the beta and start throwing out the “IT’S LIKE WOW!” babble in chat. I am willing to bet that most of them 1] do not even play WoW anymore and haven't since Vanilla or 2] never have, but just go from MMO beta to MMO beta picking fights out of boredom. It quickly becomes obvious that these people just want to start a heated argument with one tiny statement. And yes, successful trolls are usually successful. However, after seeing this multiple times while playing beta I must ask myself, is Rift like World of Warcraft?
Now, I am one to give games a fair chance and I try not compare it to the last three games that I have played. I can enjoy a game for what it is and don't look for things that are, or are not, like WoW, Warhammer, etc etc etc. In fact, I have enjoyed nearly every MMO that I have played, to some extent. I could make a blog post stating that Rift is or is not like WoW, but instead I will explain…
How Rift is like World of Warcraft:
It is an MMORPG (Oh, nooo!). Surprise! So, what does this mean? It is a massively multiplayer online role playing game that thousands of people can join and interact with one another within the game. Most MMORPGs have some sort of lore, questing, dungeons, a community, and various forms of regular PvE and PvP. Well, WoW has this and so does Rift. So does Aion and Warhammer and so will SWTOR and so on… Naturally, these games attempt to make their questing, dungeons, PvE, and PvP encounters different, and yet familiar to players at the same time.
The genre of WoW and Rift are similar, they are Fantasy MMOs. Therefore, since they are fantasy, they share a few things in common, like dragons, magic, elves, villages, trees, birds chirping, rifts spawning... oh wait... babbling brooks, this list could go on... but that does not make them the same game. Why? I will get to this point in a moment.
In the rest of my comparisons between WoW and Rift I would like to point out less similarities and more differences and so I move on to...
How Rift isn't like World of Warcraft:
Questing: Rift questing already has the reputation of following a strict linear pattern. While some people have complained about this, others have not said a peep. Why is this? Well, there are multiple reasons, one of those being that players desire linear questing. So what makes me say this? As I mentioned in my previous blog, before Cataclysm and two continent revamps, WoW used to have a very tedious quest system.
For example, Fred wants you to go find Dora and give her the necklace he bought at Kay Jewelers. Well, okay sounds easy enough, until you find out that Dora is all the way on the opposite side of the zone and you have to walk there. Finally, you made it to Dora, but now Dora wants you to go back to Fred. Now Fred wants you to propose to Dora. And finally Dora wants you to reject Fred (she was a gold digger all along). Need I even mention Shaman or Druid class quests that often had the player travel across different zones?
Needlesstosay, WoW gradually got better with this as their questing got more linear with each expansion. In Burning Crusade players saw a slight improvement and by the time Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was obvious even Blizzard had gotten the picture. So having linear questing in a game is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the majority of players responded more positively towards linear questing, from what I am able to gather.
What sets Rift apart from typical questing, however, are the events that take place while leveling. Let me quickly paint a picture for you: It's a wonderful, warm, and sunny day and you're helping Eliam clean up some pests in his fields. Suddenly, the sky turns darker than night itself and a low roar thunders all around you. You turn around and quickly try to make it back to Eliam's helpers, but tentacles rip out of the sky above and you are suddenly surrounded by monsters from the Plane of Death. Do not fear, though, for a raid of brave warriors have come to save you. You quickly join arms with them and engage in what turns out to be an epic battle for which you are greatly rewarded. You didn't even notice that a full hour has gone by and you've likely gained over half a level.
With rifts, invasions, zone events, world PvP, instanced PvP, and dungeons, there are numerous things that often detract from typical questing to the point questing becomes something a player does on the side. Also, as seen in Beta 6, players can now buy their first mount at any level as long as they have the money for it and can make it to the vendor (*a giant sigh of relief is heard throughout all of the crowd*).
The Genre is the same, but the lore is significantly different: I do not have much to say on this because I believe that many can actually agree with this. The lore in Rift is new and refreshing. Do not get me wrong, the lore in WoW isn't bad by any means, but some players are ready to start reading a different book. Without going into an in-depth explanation of the lore, the Guardians and Defiants used to be united as one. Turning more to their machines, the Defiants foolishly are what caused the rifts to opened. Wanting to prevent further terror, the Guardians destroyed these machines. Now defenseless, both start warring each other as well as the monsters that tear through the six elemental planes (fire, death, life, water, air, earth).
Due to their traitorous king turning to the power of the machines, the Guardians now only rely on the strength of their gods. Whereas the Defiants have abandoned the gods and still rely on the strength of the machines. The player gets a strong sense for the lore of their faction while questing, as well. This is shown through the quests themselves, the NPCs, the dungeons, and the environment (i.e. cities, villages, and art style in general). Nearly every NPC has a story to tell, just ask Poor Tom of Sanctum.
Rift has a better sense of community: What I mean by this is that communication between players is efficient and easy no matter the location of your character, or the level. They have the chat dissected smart and effectively. There is General chat, Zone chat, LFG chat, Party, Raid, and Warfront chat, then there are the level tier chats (1-9, 10-19, etc). I believe the tier chats to be an amazing implementation into the game and, if you're not the player to like these kinds of things, then you have the option to toggle them off or put them in a separate window. At no point past starting zones does the player become completely separated from communicating with the rest of the server simply because they are in a certain zone.
There are only two main cities (that I know of), Meridian for Defiant and Sanctum for Guardian. What importance does this serve? I believe it serves an extreme importance to the game. It keeps players together, rather than separating them throughout several different cities. Certainly players will still be separated throughout the zones, but for us banksitters who like to show off our new epics, having only one main city on your faction makes it easier for us to afk while flossin' our new shinies.
Disregarding the trolls who only compare Rift to every other MMO ever released, mainly WoW which, to them, was the first MMO in existence, the community has proven to be quite strong. Besides, most of these trolls will disappear once the game is no longer in beta phase and they have to buy it in order to troll in-game again =)
The last topic I want to cover in Part One of this blog is the art style, it is not like WoW: Or rather, should I say Warhammer? The art, in my opinion, does have hints of being similar to other games, but comes nowhere near being an exact copy. There are the beautiful high-fantasy zones that are sunny and gorgeous, then there are the dreary and war-ridden zones, such as the starting zones. I believe the starting zones to be the closest resemblance to Warhammer and nothing more. If anything, I think that people are confusing the realism of the art, rather than the actual environment and NPC style (realism being that many things in game look good enough to seem realistic and believable - even the faeries). And, technically, the factions are in a war against one another so it only makes sense to make it seem like a war is actually taking place (this contributes to the setting of lore, as well).
I have also heard quite a few people compare the art to Aion, which, in my opinion, it comes nowhere near. If anything, the only thing that comes close is the character customization, which Aion is slightly more in-depth and many people take advantage of to make microscopic rogues and goliath warriors (both with unproportionally large chests). Aion is heavily loaded with high-fantasy and has a giant dash of an anime feel in the mix. I'm not bashing this style, for a lot of people enjoy it. I'm just stating that it is not the same and, for me, didn't even feel realistic.
Now, I'm sure there are ample retorts to be made and I look forward to hearing what many have to say, but I will conclude Part One of this blog on this note. In Part Two I am eager to dive into PvP, Dungeons, the Soul Trees, and who knows what else? I have no idea when I will write Part Two, but I'm aiming for after the last beta which takes place on February 15th and is an open beta. For those more interested in trying Rift for yourself I urge you to create an account and give it a chance. I, myself, want to get my Defiant as high as I can before giving a final analysis before release.