As an avid WoW player, I approached RIFT with a bit of skepticism. Would I truly enjoy learning a whole new game? Would I make friends? Would it really be fun?
I play healers in WoW so it was natural that this would be the class I chose for RIFT. The first thing I noticed was the much wider range of choices. In WoW healers are pretty much distance casters. In RIFT, you have three choices that allow complete customization of game play:
- A traditional ‘squishy’ caster healer
- A melee healer whose heal spells heal all party members in range
- A combination type healer-the druid healer can survive close range combat while healing the party
The variety of choices is staggering. Instead of the simpler options available in WoW you can customize your toon how you like to play. Get bored healing at the back of the party? Select a druid with defensive capabilities. Prefer the safety of standing in the back of the group? Maximize your distance heal spells. Want a pet to assist you with your healing and help with damage? You have that option as well. All of the toons in RIFT have a high degree of customization. Further most of the casting spells can be cast while moving. Therefore it is possible to do a decent amount of offensive damage while simultaneously healing. It makes for a fun, fast paced game. The game play is much faster than WoW.
The creators of RIFT have done several other things to create a much faster paced game than WoW. Besides the high degree of toon customization, mounts are available very early. If you purchase the collectors edition a mount comes with the account. However even without the purchase of the collector’s edition, mounts are available for purchase before level 10. Don’t have the gold to purchase a mount? No problem! The quest zones are all very close together so I have found that I most of the time I don’t use my mount. RIFT also has a great quest helper built in with an easy to use map that also speeds up the questing. Further the respawn rate is very quick so if someone before you kills the monster you need, you only have to wait a second or two for the respawn. In fact, unless you want to fight the same enemy multiple times, don’t stop to look at your new loot without moving away from the area. I have gotten caught more than once by the respawn!
The quest zones do start to spread out as you pass level 10 but that is because RIFT has created two other types of game play that increase leveling-RIFTS and Footholds. RIFTS are breaks in the planar walls that allow monsters to invade the RIFT world while Footholds are the origination points of invasions. Invasions can either be rival factions or monsters from another plane but basically the invaders attack a town and wipe out all players and NPCs in the zone. Both can be played alone, part of a private quest or part of a public quest. When entering these zones (clearly marked on your easy to read map) you have the option to join the public quest in the area. If you are already in a group, you have the option to merge the group with the public quest. Much of the time the rifts are located very close together. If you enjoy the rift fields you can run from one rift to the next, hitting a foothold in between making it possible to level without doing much questing. Both rifts and footholds give you planar essence which you can use to purchase gear so you don’t need to worry about missing out on gear if you decide you don’t like questing.
While I haven’t participated in either yet, there are instances and PVP zones early as well. The instances start at level 17 and PVP begins around level 12. I have seen a few posts on leveling toons strictly through PVP so apparently the PVP is robust enough to allow exclusive play. One of the best things about RIFT is the huge variety of fast paced play available very early in the game. In two evenings of play I leveled two different toons to level 14.
Two evenings was enough for me to suspend my WoW account for now. I am enjoying the game play enough that I have decided to focus on RIFT for a while. The play is complex enough to keep me mentally engaged and with the huge variety of play available its hard to get bored.