I played RIFT when it first launched in March, getting Accolade the rogue to the mid-30s in levels. I was still raiding (and running a raiding guild) in WoW, though, and I didn’t really have the time and mental energy to be seriously playing two MMOs at the same time. Thusly, I came back to RIFT “full time” about six weeks ago.
Let me just get my fangirling out of the way now: I love this game! I mean, it’s not revolutionary. It’s a solid game that expands on a lot of WoW’s ideas. At the end of the day, RIFT has a good community, developers who seem to care, and fun casual gameplay, and I’m not sure what more I could ask for than that.
I have become distinctly casual (non-raider) lately, and RIFT has a variety of activities that I can do in an hour or two of time with a small group or pug. I can log on and join in on crafting rifts, or the daily raid and epic rifts, and can keep an eye out for PVP rifts. I can run around the world fighting off invasions and protecting caravans. Daily quests themselves are not exactly an exciting dynamic, but there are so many to choose from that I never get bored, whether it’s for the world event, various reputations, or the crafting and pvp dailies. I haven’t finished even a single zone puzzle, or gotten my epic questline past the level 30s. And, oh right, there’s the usual instanced content too, like T1 and T2 dungeons and warfronts.
My sense is that players who want to be the best at one thing — a world-first raider, say, or a PvP demon — will not enjoy RIFT. It seems to me to be more of a game for folks who want to dabble in a little of everything. Heck, the next patch will have 1-2 person dungeons and an alternative-advancement-like system, adding to the possibilities.
RIFT, of course, is not perfect. The graphics are beautiful but they do terrible things to my not-that-old computer and at least once a night I disconnect while trying to zone into the main city. Like WoW, RIFT also operates under the general assumption that “gear = progression”, although I would argue that there are more fun ways to obtain upgrades in RIFT. The quests are pretty linear, and leveling up alts seems like it would be a little boring.
RIFT is new. My characters are new. I am, probably, easily amused for this reason. The game is well-made and frequently updated, but in a year or two from now when I have slowly accomplished most goals on Accolade, will I still be having fun? It’s hard to say, but probably not. I guess after WoW I just don’t think of a single MMO as “forever” anymore. If I get a good year or two out of RIFT.. well heck, that’s worth my time and money.
So, the final analysis: If you are looking for a casual-friendly MMO that is not too dissimilar to the current offerings, I would highly recommend RIFT. It combines WoW mechanics with the mellow feel of LotRO, and adds new content at an amazing pace. (And if you are looking for a guild, I highly recommend the Catari Honour Guard on Byriel Defiant, cough cough.)
PS: On the list for this long weekend is finally trying League of Legends. Full report next week!