Now that Rift has gone Free-to-Try for the first 20 levels, I thought that I would give it a shot. I've read a lot about it, and while I know that it has been heralded as "the best of the WoW clones," I wanted to see for myself exactly what it was all about.
So, after the hour it took to download and patch the game (which was quite a bit shorter than the time it has taken to do the same with WoW and SW:ToR in the past), I started creating my first character.
For some reason, I felt like going with a female character. I am male, and I almost always play male characters in any game, but for some reason, the male models just didn't appeal to me at all, so I went with a female instead. I did like the fact that there were more customization options than in WoW. I like for my characters to look the way I want them to, and Rift seems to provide more of that than WoW.
After getting my character created and entering into the game, I took a few minutes to adjust the graphics to the Ultra setting and set up a few key-bindings. All of this was easy to find and adjust, though there were several menu options that I just wasn't sure what they were for; hopefully, I will find that out as I keep playing. I was immediately hit by how similar the play was to WoW. As soon as my character was "created" (or reborn as the story goes), I was staring at a quest giver with a bright icon over his head to tell me he was there.
I sometimes miss the days when you actually had to talk to all the NPC's in a room to find any available quests, but I understand the attraction to a more stream-lined game play. I do have to say that the icon used to denote quest givers is much more visible than in SW:ToR . . . in fact, I almost missed a quest in Hoth yesterday because the little yellow triangle didn't show up well against the plain white background.
Upon accepting my first quest (and several more after that), I realized how much I have been enjoying the dialogue-laden quest givers in SW:ToR, and how much I did NOT miss the "read this short blurb and try to figure out what you are doing" approach of WoW and now apparently, Rift.
Simply stated, this is not nearly as fun or immersive as being able to dialogue with the NPC's. I even made the comment to my wife that SW:ToR may have spoiled me as far as the way I believe games should go about presenting quests.
The next thing I noticed as I started into the game was the armor I began to pick up from drops and quest rewards. Being a female character, I was expecting to have some armor that was a bit more revealing than I was used to on a male character, that's just the way these fantasy worlds work; however, even as a male, I was a bit appalled when I equipped a pair of "pants" that dropped for me only to find that they were basicly panties. I forgot to take a screen shot of the actual panties my character was wearing, but this sampling of outfits from should give some idea:
I was honestly thinking to myself, "I hope my wife doesn't look at the screen; that would be embarrassing." I mean, I'm sure some 12 year old boys might find that appealing, but as a middle-aged man, it just made me uncomfortable for my character (male or female) to be dressed in such a manner.
Moving on from the armor, I completed a few quests and leveled up a few times. I have to say that I do like the soul-tree format. The skills that are "turned on" in the roots of the tree are a neat idea, and while I generally like doing research and finding out the "best" spec for my desired play-style, the fact that the game suggested what talents I should take based on my preference of style was pretty helpful, since I didn't want to take the time to do a lot of research for a game I'm only test-driving.
All in all, I would say my first experience with Rift was a mediocre one. It feels very much like WoW reskinned, and while there are some neat little differences, for the most part I don't see myself paying for another subscription game when I can just play WoW and get the same experience. I haven't faced any actual rifts or run any dungeons, etc. so I am holding out on a final judgment until I've seen some of that content, since the rifts, in particular, are really the "selling point" for the game, but for now, I'm not all that impressed.