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Rift Won Me Over: Wow Player Breaks It Down
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You’ve probably heard of it. You’ve probably even thought about trying it. So, what’s stopping you? A baby in the world of massive multi-player online role playing games (MMORPGs), Rift launched in March 2011 and its community of players has steadily grown since its debut. People completely new to MMORPGs as well as seasoned players have come to Telara to see what Trion Worlds, Inc. has in store for them.

You see the ads, you hear the hype, but maybe you just need to hear it from a former World of Warcraft (WoW) player to make a decision to take the leap. That WoW player is yours truly. I’m going to be honest with you about WoW and Rift and cut through the usual marketing fluff you’re used to being fed. I’ll give you my opinions and map out some of the differences between WoW and Rift. It’s not as scary or complicated as you may think. I found the learning curve to be quite small going from WoW to Rift. I’m not saying play one over the other, but I want to give some facts and give you some insight on a new game you might be on the fence about.

So, a little about my WoW background would probably help. I did actually play the game. Have no doubts about that. I played WoW for a few years, pulled in by some friends and a personal obligation to get the most out of my monthly subscription fee. I’m not the “traditional” gamer either. I’m a mother and full time career girl. A GenX gamer. My main role in WoW was as a priest and healer. And that’s really all I have to write for you to know that I’ve seen the ugly side of MMORPGs. I’ve seen the best and worst of the community. I’ve felt the sting of failure, the fire of wrongful blame, and the glow of praise.

That’s not all I did. I also had a warlock that was neck in neck level wise with my priest. I also had rogues, druids, death knights, etc. I played every class, every race, both factions, and tried it all. So I do know about dps and tanking. Getting on with it, I think I have enough experience with WoW and its classes and mechanics to give a good review and comparison with Rift.

Let’s start with the basics. The world in Rift is called Telara. There are two factions, Guardian and Defiant. I think the names give away the intended “good guys” and “bad guys”. I actually prefer “misunderstood” for the bad guys. I don’t see either side as bad. They both have flaws but overall have the same goal. They just go about it differently.

Telara sits at the intersection of all the elemental planes. A magical ward was created to surround Telara and keep it safe from the raging planes and their primal forces which threaten to tear the planet apart. The ward becomes weak in spots and when this happens a planar tear occurs. Whatever plane is pressing on the ward begins to tear the shield. These tears erupt into rifts, specific to whatever element the obtrusive plane is. Now you know why the game is called Rift. You, as a player, whichever faction, are responsible for protecting Telara and sealing these rifts, thus preserving the ward and life as we know it. See, same goal. Whether you have Gods or machines to do it doesn’t matter.

Currency and transportation are about the same in the games. WoW has copper, silver, gold and Rift has the corresponding silver, gold, platinum. So copper is silver, silver is gold, and gold is platinum. It took the gold spammers a few months to catch on to this. Trust me, you will get used to it far quicker than gold sellers. Sheesh. Talk about slow. And no, you’re not free from those people clogging up your chat window with tripe. They found Rift right away and we endure it daily. Bah.

Mounts are in both games. Tons of odd things to ride and collect. Anything from an antelope thing to a horned lion with two tails and other creepy monstrosities. These things could cause nightmares. Cripes. However, there are land mounts in both games, slow to fast, but there are no flying mounts in Rift. Yet. There is no flying at all in Rift. Yep, flight points are a thing of the past. The days of making supper, doing laundry, and paying bills while your toon flies from Booty Bay to Silvermoon are gone. This is instant in Rift as long as you find the porticulums scattered throughout Telara. Like flight points in WoW, once you find a port (yes, it’s lovingly shortened to be practical) you can move freely and arrive instantly to any other port you have found.

The trick is finding them. You can’t miss them. A huge glowing gate in the middle of shrubbery sort of stands out, don’t ya think? There is only one per zone usually and you have to get aways into the zone to find it. Anyway, travel is instant for a gold or so and you can get on with your day zippity do dah. No more riding on the backs of mutant eagles, deer, and lions. You can hearth too. It’s called Soul Recall. Once you find a port you have this ability. Hour cooldown. Bummer.

As for game mechanics, a lot is the same or about the same as in WoW. Questing. Dungeons. You’ll even run into quest givers that make Guard Thomas look smart. Everyone starts in the same area regardless of race and class. Guardians start in one area, Defiants start in another. Once you get out of the starting area, around level 6 for Defiants and level 7 for Guardians, everyone comes together and is on the same page, ripped apart by a lake. It’s kind of involved but Guardians go forward in time and Defiants go back in time to all land on opposite shores during the same battle. I have had some real Back to the Future deja vu with this. “Marty!”

I need to clarify something else since I mentioned it. The races of Telara are humans (Mathosians for Guardians and Eths for Defiants), High Elves (the traditional treehuggers), dwarves, Kelari (High Elves tainted by exposure to raw planar power), and Bahmi (the big burly race). I find Eths much more pleasing to the eye than Mathosians regardless of the fact that they are both human races. If you like colorful characters the Kelari will fit that bill. And if you’re the type that likes to be the biggest race with all the muscles you’ll want to choose the Bahmi. If you just want to be a drunk dwarf, well, just pick a dwarf then. If there is something that doesn’t change in these games it’s dwarves. Oi.

There is something special about creating your character in Rift versus WoW. Not only do you choose your race, sex, facial features, eye color, hair style and color, tatoos, and skintone, but you also adjust the height of your character. This can put your character in a range from itty bitty to incredibly tall. Anyway, character customization is unique and I guarantee you will spend many hours creating and tweaking characters to your liking. I do it just because it’s fun. How big will the nose go? I want beady little eyes. Short and fat or tall and lean? Screw around with it. Have fun. It’s much easier to have a character look unique in Rift. Everyone sort of looks the same in WoW after a few hours.

Another way to separate your character from the pack is dying your armor. Yes! You CAN have armor that matches even at low levels. And you can have the same armor set as someone else but look totally different just by buying some dye and going all fashion police on your stuff. No more farming for pieces of the Defias armor. Your rogue can wear all black any time you want.

Now it gets a little complicated. You’ll get it though. Classes in Rift are referred to as Callings. There are four callings, each with 8 souls, and another PvP specific role unlocks for each calling later. The leveling system in Rift is the Ascended Soul Class system. This is something that really cuts deep into the gut of WoW. The Callings are warrior, mage, cleric, and rogue. By the time you exit the starting area you will have learned three souls of your choosing. The other five are available to purchase from your trainer. You can acquire all eight souls for each calling and you can have multiple roles. So callings are classes and soul trees are skill trees. A role is a combination of three souls. And you can have several roles, also available for purchase from your trainer. If you want a tanking role, healing role, and dps role all for one character, by golly you can have it!

And if you didn’t catch what I just wrote, I’ll clarify. You technically can be a tank under any calling, warrior, rogue, mage, or cleric. It’s all how you configure your souls and roles. Warriors are still the pick of choice for tanking, but I’ve been on runs with rogue tanks and cleric tanks and it all goes just fine. I told myself I wouldn’t, but yes, I’m a healer in Rift. I do have a dps role for that character though for soloing and fun. I switch to my heal role for dungeons and raids.

Now warriors and rogues don’t have healing trees but mages and clerics do. There is also an additional group role in Rift. The support role. So you can tank, heal, dps, or fill a support role. This hasn’t caught on yet and is often unfilled in groups right now. It’s a very cool idea though and I hope to see it evolve and be embraced by the community eventually.

My calling of choice and the one that comes the most naturally to me is cleric. This calling is the most hybrid calling in my opinion. You can be anything from a WoW Paladin, Priest, Warlock, Druid, and Shaman with this calling. My healing role is very priest. Bubble and all. My dps role is very warlock. Shadows and life draining included. The tanking setup for this calling would be similar to a Paladin. There is a soul for warriors called Paladin, but it doesn’t stop there. WoW Paladin skills are split between warriors and clerics. The buffs, heals, and rezzes are in the cleric’s Justicar tree, as well as shield skills. The defensive moves are in the warrior’s Paladin tree.

I only mention this because I haven’t forgotten the popularity of the Paladin class in WoW. And it is really difficult to pinpoint any overpowered calling/role/tree. Clerics are the only class that can effectively fill all four roles required for a good group. Tank, dps, healing, and support.

If you’re a long time lover of hunters do I have news for you! You will find the “hunter” tree under the rogue calling. It’s called Ranger. However, if you’re like me and like the bow but would rather not have a bad AI pet pulling every mob within 100 miles, there is a tree for rogues just for that called Marksman. It is awesome and incredibly fun. But even better than that is the saboteur soul for rogues. If you love blowing stuff up you’ve got to try this. Bombs and traps galore.

But the news I have for hunter lovers is you don’t have to be a hunter to have a pet. Yes. Every calling has at least one pet-related soul. Warriors have Beastmaster, clerics have Druid, mages have Elemental and Necromancer (think Unholy Death Knight), and rogues have Ranger. All these include a beneficial pet of some sort. Hunters have exploded all over everyone. And there are no restrictions among races. Any one of any faction can be any calling.

Now you know a bit about the races, callings, and build options in Rift. I won’t stop there. No. More goodies to come. Lovers of the companion pets of WoW will be thrilled to know that Rift also has companion pets. From cute and fuzzy to slimy and stinky. You can acquire them all sorts of ways. One way is by completing artifact sets. Artifacts are little glowing stones scattered throughout Telara and appear randomly in areas for you to pick up. When you collect all the artifacts in a collection you can turn this in at the artifact dealer in your faction’s capitol city for all sorts of unique goodies.

I think the last thing I’ll cover are invasions. This too is something way different from WoW and is really a stellar feature of Rift. There are always occasional invasions here and there of small groups of the opposite faction or critters from the various elemental planes surrounding Telara. But the action comes from full blown zone invasions.

This is when an entire zone (questing area for a certain level range) goes under invasion by one of the planes or even the opposite faction. Rifts erupt everywhere. You’ll hear monologue from the zone boss. Smaller invasions and outposts appear everywhere and continue until the problem is rectified. You can’t miss when a zone goes under attack.

What is really unique is everyone can help fight the invasion. It can be in small groups or a giant raid. Groups are public and can be joined on a whim by anyone without an invite unless you choose to make your group private. This is awesome! If you want to chip in but don’t want to go it alone, you can catch a raid running by and join up and nobody throws a fit. When a zone event is taking place everyone needs to get off their butts and help. The more that help the sooner the zone goes back to normal and questing can continue.

It is all out war and absolutely chaotic but tons of fun. The rush will keep you coming back for more and most players can’t wait for the next one. Zone and world events are random in interval so you can’t just log on every night at 6 p.m. and jump into one. You don’t know when or where one will hit and this really gives the game an edge and keeps it interesting.

If I haven’t convinced you yet to try out Rift, it’s your loss. Truly. You’re missing out. From a WoW healer to a Rift healer, that is still the same abusive, but rewarding role. What keeps me playing one over another though is a fresh community, invasions and teamwork, and the soul class system. For once I don’t feel “trapped” in a class, filling one role in a group. So many options, so much good stuff. You really should try it. A free trial is waiting for you.


Street Talk

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