Hi everyone, could use some advice on Rift. I was a longish-term WoW player who enjoyed my time in that game but who grew weary of all of the b.s. that's come to be associated with the WoW experience. I'd discovered a "better mousetrap" during one of the GW2 beta weekends and I immediately "moved on" and adopted GW2 as my primary game. Still liking GW2 quite a lot (liking more than loving, but it's all still good in that game), but I do find I miss the old-school fun I used to have in WoW back in the day. . .
I recently became more aware of the Rift expansion, and I became intrigued enough to begin looking into it online. I think I'm liking what I am seeing so far, in that Rift seems to combine the familiar elements of old-school WoW with many of the newer elements & fun found in GW2. Rift essentially seems like the best of both worlds, possibly. I'm also loving the energy and commitment I'm reading about on the Developer side and Rift players certainly seem to have a passion for the game, which is always a good sign. I HAVE run across a couple areas of possible concern, however, so I thought I'd just come here and ask outright:
1. SERVER POPULATION/BALANCE. I've read forum and blog comments of servers being only lightly-populated and/or imbalanced between factions, especially prior to the expansion release. A couple of player bloggers mentioned this specifically as the reason they chose to unsub. What is the reality here? Obviously, I would seek to join a higher-pop server because I like a lot of "MMO" in my "MMO" but what has been your experience?
2. PVP OPPORTUNITIES. I'm fine with PVE elements, but I find that I REALLY like really good PVP challenges once I've gotten a handle on my class & abilities. I have read varied comments on the quality of Rift PVP, everything from "it sucks" to "it's okay." It sounds like the expansion does offer some increased PVP opportunities, but what has your experience been with this aspect of the game? Are the battleground-type of competitions fun? How gear-dependent is PVP in Rift? Does skill play a decently-large part in PVP results? Are the different classes relatively balanced?
3. GRIND. I'll be honest: I hate the "collect ten bear asses" grind and I refuse to do dailies, I just hate having to repeat content to earn something. How much of an honest factor is this in the Rift leveling/gearing process? Can you become competitive without having to grind over the same content over and over in order to gear up?
Please do note that I am more than willing to do my own research on all of this! I've spent most of the last two days reading up on Rift, watching YouTube vids, etc. (instead of playing GW2 lol). But there is not TOO much objective info out there yet on the expansion and I thought maybe it would be helpful to go straight to the real source (players) for some straight info. You needn't answer each of my questions above in turn, but any thoughts for feedback you care to offer -- or any resource sites you've found to be especially helpful -- would be most appreciated and probably of help to more potential players than just me.