1. #1

    Re-Reviewing Rift - A longterm WoW players' experience.

    Hi all,

    After playing WoW since late 2005, I took a break almost 2 years ago for a number of reasons, and played Rift for a while. By and large, I really enjoyed it, but the raiding guild I was in broke up (mainly due to the release of the amazing MMO that was going to lay waste to all opposition, aka SWTOR... <snicker>). So I came back to WoW.

    I heard recently that Rift was about to release it's first expansion, so I thought I'd poke my nose back in and see what was happening. From the relatively brief time I've been playing again, I've noticed many, many improvements, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the state of play re Rift with anyone else who may be interested.

    First, a couple of disclaimers :

    1) This is not a 'Rift is better than WoW' thread. I've played WoW for almost 7 years, and barring Planescape Torment I believe it to be the best game ever made. Certainly from a longevity and time involvement viewpoint, WoW holds no peer. The point of this thread is to simply do a 're-review' of another competing MMO, and to suggest it may be worth people taking another look.

    2) I'm no Rift fanboy. I've been back playing it for a little under a month now, and there are a number of noticeable flaws vs WoW. There are, however, a number of things it does better, so I hope the below presents a balanced view.

    3) This whole review is simply based on my view and opinion. It may not be as accurate as you would like, but I haven't tried to be accurate on minutia - I've simply tried to reflect the 'as I see it' view of a returning Rift player whose MMO history is largely based around WoW.

    Now with that out of the way, here's Rift, as I see it today.

    Rift vs WoW - Talents.

    This is probably the area where, in my view, Rift far surpasses WoW. The WoW dev team have taken the view of simplifying class and talent choice over the years, to the point where in MoP, all your abilities are pre-selected for you based on class and spec, your playstyle is largely dictated thereby, and your 'choice' is now in the form of talents which mainly add flavour rather than substance.

    Rift's talent system, on the other hand, is incredibly complex - dauntingly so for some. To understand how Rift's talent system works, you first need to understand the premise of who your character is. You are not a 'hero' or an adventurer. You are an Ascended : essentially, you are a reincarnated body which contains the life essences and memories ('souls') of a bunch of heroes long dead. If you're familiar with the story of Leto, God Emperor of Dune, think Ascended = Leto with only 8 life memories encapsulated rather than tens of thousands.

    Because of that, each classes talent system is based around utilising a mix of 3 of these 'souls' at any given point in time. Each Soul works like a hybrid of the old BC/WotLK talent system and the new Cata system. You choose your flavour and optimisation talents like you chose talents in WotLK, but as you spend points in your soul tree, you get the core abilities shown below the tree, with more powerful core abilities coming as you spend more points in the tree above.

    One complaint of Rift shortly after it launched was just how complex the above system can be. And it's true, it can be very daunting. But it also gives you almost limitless ability to customer a class that suits your playstyle - you may decide you really like the Beastmaster playstyle as a Warrior, but you have 20+ different ways you can combine your Beastmaster soul with 2 other soul choices, and that's BEFORE you factor in the large amount of flexibility in the talent choices themselves.

    However, one major addition has made the soul system much easier for new players : Soul Presets. These are essentially 'premade specs', where instead of you having to manually figure out which talents to choose etc, you can simply pick a preset soul and talent combination, and the game will automatically choose your souls for you and show you where to put your talents as you level. Of course, if you want to change it, you can flip back and forward from a soul preset to a custom spec, any time you like.

    One major advantage of Rift vs WoW is the number of builds you can use. WoW has Dual Spec, but in Rift you can have up to 6 different builds, and toggle back and forward between them at any time (out of combat). So as a Warrior you could have, for example - a Solo build designed to make soloing easier, a glass cannon Melee DPS build, a General Tank build, a Support build, a Magic Tank build and a PvP build. Each selectable with only a button click.

    Finally, Rift also includes a system called Planar Attunement. This is an additional 'fine tuning' option for each character. You get PA points by closing rifts and doing raids etc etc on any of your toons, and the PA points are account wide. The PA system is interesting, and provides bonuses like improved run speed, less damage taken falling, boosts to stats, and boosts to weapon damage.

    I do have one complaint with the PA system, and that is that each Element has it's set list of things that it can buff, which doesn't always match your needs. For example, as pictured below, the Air element provides a Run Speed boost, but also boosts Dexterity, which means it's not hugely useful as a Strength-using Warrior, however much you may want the Run Speed bonus.

    All in all, Rift offers a significant amount more customisability of your character's spec and build than WoW currently does, while recent additions have made the process simpler and less daunting for new players.

    Rift vs WoW - Classes and Roles.

    Rift is much simpler than WoW in its Class choice, as there are only 4 classes : Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Cleric. Bare in mind, however, that each class has 8 different souls available, from which you can run with 3 at any given point in time.

    Rift has the holy trinity of roles that WoW uses : Tank, Healer and DPS. However, Rift's is actually a 'quinity', as there is a 4th role - Support. Support role doesn't have a direct correlation in WoW, but in short, picture a DPS class that does less DPS than a pure DPS class, but provides a level of off healing, and whose primary job is to provide and maintain a vast array of raid buffs that boost everyone elses output and survivability.

    The general premise is that, say, 5 pure DPS and 1 Support, will do more Raid DPS than 6 pure DPS players.

    Support roles are very unique and quite varied :

    - Beastmaster (Warrior) is pretty much a melee Hunter, with a pet, who does damage through heavy use of bleed effects and dots, and maintains buffs by using Finisher attacks. BM is a bit more complex to play vs some of the other Support classes, but does very competitive DPS, only 10-20% behind a pure DPS class.

    - Archon (Mage) I've not played much, but as I understand it, imagine an elemental magic user who spreads buffs across the raid by doing damage.

    - Bard (Rogue) is a ranged DPS class who damages enemies, and buffs and heals allies, by playing music. No, really. I'm serious. Also bags of fun to play.

    Here's a pic of a Beastmaster support class in action - check out the massive number of buffs at the top - these are all self buffs, that as a Support role you spread to other raid members...

    Rift vs WoW - Graphics and Customisability.

    The graphics in Rift are a bit more 'realistic' than WoW's, and have a tendancy to be a bit gritty and dark looking due to the nature of the game universe. You'll either like it or hate it. It took me a bit to get used to after the bright, vibrant and sometimes even cartoony look of WoW, but now I quite like it. I have to say I think the animation quality in WoW is a little bit better, but not by much. And in some aspects (i.e the cast animation when you fish in Rift), Rift has it over WoW in spades.

    Rift also allows you to transmog your gear (in fact, it existed prior to WoW and part of me wonders if WoW poached the concept...)

    However, Rift's system works quite differently. First, you transmog the SLOT, not the ITEM. That means no need to re-transmog every time you get a different item.

    Secondly, Rift allows you to have multiple transmogs in your 'Wardrobe', and you can toggle between them (or turn the Xmog off entirely) with a mouse click.

    Finally, the gear for the Xmog is actually stored in your Wardrobe slot, so it doesn't sit around taking up bag space.

    One glaring hole in Rift's xmog system however is that it doesn't let you xmog weapons. Not sure why, hopefully Trion will add it at a later date.

    Here's an example of my ugly-a$$ mug...

    ... being turned into something a mite more attractive via use of the Wardrobe system.

    Lest I forget, one final cool way of customising gear in Rift is inks. You can die your armor in pretty much any combination of 2 colours, and that includes Wardrobe items. So if you get a drop that is black and red, and you like the shape but you'd rather it was blue and gold, the change is only 2 inks away.

    Rift vs WoW - Macros.

    The final thing I'll cover off today is Rift's macro system. Now, I'll lay my cards on the table : I have a hard-on for Rift's macro system. It is amazing. It has a level of complexity and flexibility that WoW can't even dream of.

    A lot of that lays in the different way that WoW and Rift treat macros.

    WoW works on a 'cast everything until something would trigger the GCD' system. So you can have an instruction to pop a trinket, cast Last Stand, and then cast Devastate. But you can't put Shield Slam and Devastate on the same macro without a very complex system of /castsequence commands, as both are GCD linked abilities, and as soon as it gets to the first one the game will either cast it, or say it can't be cast and stop.

    Rift, however, works on what I call a 'waterfall' system. How that works is simple - each time you press the macro, the macro will cast the first available ability that is usable in your current situation. Lets use the following to demonstrate :

    What this macro is saying is :

    - Show the tooltip icon for Empowering Strike
    - Stop the combat log from reporting every time an ability is unable to be used.
    - Try and cast Into The Breach. If that is unavailable, or on cooldown, then...
    - Try and cast Empowering Strike, your spammable ability. Note that ITB and ES are 'on-GCD abilities', so if you press the macro again while the GCD is locked, it'll proceeed past this line to...
    - Everything Is A Weapon, which is an off-GCD ability with a cooldown. And if that's on cooldown, it'll just try and cast the next 2 off-GCD's down the list, in order.
    - Finally, if the GCD is locked and none of the off-GCD abilities are off cooldown, the press will do... nothing!

    As you can probably already tell, this allows for HUGE flexibility. For example, here's a Youtube vid of my low level rogue, whose combo point builder and finisher abilities will a) Try and attack with a Melee range strike (as it's more powerful) and then b) if out of melee range, automatically switch to attacking with a ranged attack. You can see the specific macro at the start, and the vid is available in 720p if you want it clearer.

    Anyway, that's enough for one day. Happy to answer any questions, or if you want specific info, feel free to ask.

    Finally : If the above has convinced you that Rift is worth looking into, please note that :

    - Rift Lite is available, which is a free version that lets you level 2 chars to L20 for nix. L20 in Rift would be roughly equiv to about L35 in WoW these days.

    - Rift itself if F2P until the expansion launches on the 13th November, so if you're a returning player you can try the new stuff out for nothing. Give it a go!
    Last edited by BlackrazorNZ; 2012-11-11 at 03:02 AM. Reason: Spelling tidy up!

  2. #2
    Very nice read. Thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    Fluffy Kitten Rivin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Washington, USA
    Direct comparisons between games pretty much never ends well. Please don't create threads like this.

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