I play Rift, quite taken with it really. It's my first MMO but I keep hearing comparisons to WoW. I do understand it has better graphics. I like the shiny, customizable combat overlay interface pretty well. There is a decent range of customization for character skin and hair. A bit less for body shapes, a preset selection of ten or so per section of the body. Clothing and armor models are rather limited -- they are often repeated across different items, and just really tend to be hit or miss aesthetically. I enjoy the landscapes in Rift fairly well, for a dystopian fantasy world with lots of open space and some wasteland.
Character classes are the subject of much min/maxing chatter. But there is plenty of room for playing around with skill sets at least for those first weeks or month (unless you're really
playing casually) until you hit the max of 50. There is actually a lot of overlap in options -- almost everyone can
do many of the same things at some level, it's just that some classes do certain things much better. PVP and instanced dungeons are good ways to level quickly, if you have patience for random opponents or long dungeon queues. Some people swear by mainly farming lots of monsters, but I would get bored before I could fully test that approach. It definitely helps if the monsters are just in the "caution" range for your character level-wise, but not actually too tough.
After 50, it gets more "serious" if one wants real gear progression. You start to hear more people demanding a certain character build to even have you around, which I find rather stifling. The game may become more grind and guild oriented then. Recently, they added another tier of experience with small stat bonuses for participating in battles against recurring invasion "events" so that has kept us 50's a little busier. Some people distract themselves by pursuing epic quests or collecting artifacts scattered over the landscape for bragging rights and odd prizes (often yet another
pet squirrel? okay, so I have one). Some die for PVP but I don't have a whole lot of experience there. Except: It's more fun for rogues? Heh.
Then of course there is raiding, a great way to burn a couple hours and just maybe
get a touch of gear if the party is moving fast enough. One of the criticisms of Rift is that you may have
to raid to feel like you've heard much of the story of the world happen. Crafting also becomes slightly more interesting at 50 with epic (but enormously expensive) recipes that characters can equip. But the crafting system overall is rather simplistic and not so profitable for many characters. Depends how much you like farming resource zones, watching the auction house for updates, and that sort of thing. If you really
like to craft, you may as well dive in and start leveling those alts early
- Pretty landscapes.
- Generally decent combat FX, I think
- Always something to farm, often some event to slash about in. And, "Planar atunement" XP does keep level 50's involved.
- They do listen to at least some feedback
- Spiffy enough combat interface (for point and click moi - don't ask me about macros yet)
- Character customization is alright
- They don't wait a week or month to patch major issues
- World has some sense of irony and humor
- Starting to see instanced solo/duo dungeons, and more are promised. (Rewards so far are limited, but the content is at least somewhat challenging.)
- Overall "gods versus machines" type story, with lots of NPC's switching allegiances, is fairly compelling
- World feels smallish -- if growing -- Also note, the Defiants don't have as much contiguous territory as Guardians.
- Storyline is not always obvious, is rather limited I think, and can be hidden in difficult group or raid areas
- Game is already grindy at high level, and becoming prone to price inflation for gear there too
- Crafting system can seem a little silly at times
- Daily quests are repetitive (this is supposedly scheduled for improvement)
- PVP system throws together people with uneven capabilities, just to fill the area
- We want more instanced dungeons (I like the ones they have) -- queue times may vary a lot unless you're a tank or healer
- Armor/weapons needs some work and variety aesthetically
- Sometimes the monsters feel visually repetitive. Same models as in other areas, here they're "small" and there "extra large" with more powers.
(Supposedly this has been noted and the next content promises more originality.)
- Online GM / support service can be distant or strange (sometimes helpful, sometimes not it seems)
- If you mind this sort of thing: Monsters usually do not respond differently to varied kinds of attacks (dragons not immune to fire or ice, etc.)
- Possibly: Frequent patch updates can feel slightly annoying?
- Possibly: Classes don't always appear dramatically different from each other (until you hit high level and then, only a few builds get favored)