The RIFT open beta test is upon us!  As thousands of adventurers get set to brave the Planes of Telara – I sat down with developer Trion Worlds to find out just what makes RIFT so different, and perhaps even better than it’s biggest competitor – World of Warcraft.

Both myself and RipTen founder Chad Lakkis were hardcore WoW players and raiders for years.  Not only that, but I’ve personally spent time with almost every other major MMO that’s been released in recent memory.  So, as I sat down to talk with Trion Worlds Design Producer Hal Hanlin – I just had to know what would set RIFT apart from every other fantasy roleplaying MMO in a market that is, quite frankly, over-saturated. I asked Hal to give me five reasons why RIFT is different than WoW – and he was certainly up to the challenge:

So as I listened to Hal go on about what makes RIFT unique, I was quite intrigued and in fact impressed by some of the features that they’d implemented.

When he says there is no right way to play a class, I was thrilled.  Anyone who plays an MMO like WoW in a serious way knows that there are pretty much only a couple of ways to play your class as either a PvP or PvE spec.  Everyone who’s anyone knows their best-in-slot gear and their best talent spec for their class, and that’s that. However, in RIFT there are so many different variations of a class that will work effectively for both PvE and PvP, there really is no right way to play a class.  A good player is good and a bad player is bad, it’s as simple as that.

When he speaks about dynamic server-wide events, this is something that is not commonly seen in WoW.  These sort of events usually only happen during holidays or during the pre-release build up to a new expansion.  In RIFT, events as well as the Rifts themselves can actually spawn invasions that can take over entire cities. Imagine running into Stormwind only to find all the NPCs are dead and an invading force has taken over and you can’t even use the auction house until you’ve cleared the city of said invasion!!  It’s a pretty cool dynamic if you ask me. Not only that, but in WoW, server wide and world raids are still handled like regular raids.  If you see something going on, you will have to run into the middle of the fray while spamming chat saying something like, “SOMEONE F**KING INVITE ME TO A RAID!!” or else you’ll not be able to participate or even have a chance at getting any loot.  However, in RIFT, you can press one button to join in on the fun and the effort you put in is directly proportional to the loot you get out. All of these ideas are extremely refreshing and welcomed by players like me who think the systems for dynamic events and world raids in a game like WoW are “antiquated” to say the least.

Now, when Hal says that any group can clear an instance as long as they know what they’re doing – that’s bloody awesome.  No longer will you have to spam chat looking for PUG tanks, healers or ranged/melee DPS.  Any class can fulfill multiple roles, and as Hal says – you won’t find group members logging off to get alts just because they can’t kill a boss.  All they have to do is get out of combat, change the way their class is set, and press onward!!  Yet again, another awesome feature of RIFT and an idea that clearly comes from years of playing and being frustrated with other MMOs.

So, while it’s easy to see how RIFT is in fact different and perhaps in some of these ways better than World of Warcraft . . . is that enough to drive sales? The MMO market is definitely over-saturated and it’s hard for anyone to compete at all, let alone take on the industry juggernaut that is WoW.  Even when you have a game that is as polished and offers as much dynamic content as RIFT – only time will tell if the Planes of Telara will be populated with players for years to come, or if we’ll find RIFT in the bargain bin before years end.

However, if you’re as intrigued as I am by what you’ve seen – sign up for the RIFT open beta and get in on the action today!!


  1. The part about rifts literally taking over parts of the world is good marketing at best. Gameplay-wise, the rifts do “take over” an outpost which gives you your typical kill 10, collect 25 quests. They destroy what’s called a wardstone there, then the invaders summon a foothold, which players can choose to kill OR NOT TO KILL. They can choose not to kill it because after 10 minutes, it ‘returns’ to its plane of origin, the quest givers re-appear out of nowhere and the grind restarts.

    RIFT does, in fact, have a little bit of dynamicism to it; the only problem is that the very same dynamicism is temporary at best, and the game world returns to the same thing someone has already done a million times. Those stone giants on the hill will always be there.

    In my opinion, if you’re thinking of switching from WoW, don’t. Stay with WoW because taking the time to grind up to the top level is probably not worth it. However, if you’re picking an MMO to start with, choose RIFT as it should be around a while longer, with the added benefit of the dynamic rift system.

    OR just wait for Guild Wars 2 which has its goals set for redefining MMORPGs as a genre; and they have already completed the technology to do so.

    • Well I can agree that they embellished the whole invasion thing a bit but it does add interesting aspects to normal game play. Beyond that even hinting that you grind in this game is silly. You gain much more EXP from closing rifts and doing dungeons and raids. The ONLY reason to quest in Rift is to gain notoriety points in certain zones which grants you access, in some cases, to special items.

      I know you’re a wow guy and you’re trying to convince people wow is better without being too obvious, but Rift is clearly a much better game and the amount of stuff in the initial release, to me, is astonishing. And expansions will only make this game better.

  2. GW2 is low budget. Their content will be extremely limited and heavily, heavily, heavily instanced. By today’s standards GW2 isn’t even considered an mmorpg, in other words, don’t buy so much into a game that has released very little information.

    Now to stay with WoW or roll with Rift? I’ve played wow since launch, I’ve seen it all, I’ve done it all. WoW is recycling A LOT of content that I’ve been sick of from the start. The boss dynamics are recycled as well. I can’t say much about Rift just yet but after running the lowbie dungeons available, it shows promise. We’ll see how raids turn out.

    I’m tired of WoW drastically changing their classes and abilities. You guys should have seen ret pallies during BC. Everything that heals has become homogenized. Everything that can use a 2h has been homogenized.

    Rift has a class that uses bombs. WoW can’t compete classwise. WoWs content is dull and easy. WoW is a lobby game where you stay at a city queuing for a heroic with nasty anons. Where’s the sense of mmo.

    I really like rift and plan on playing it with my friends. This article sums it up, except for pvp which is AMAZING. Trion created a different ruleset for pvp servers. Blizz? Nerf wpvp babies cry too hard.

    • Are you seriously saying that gw2 will be heavily instanced? Please don’t post about something you don’t know about. Gw2 devs admitted that gw was instanced and wasn’t an mmo but say that gw2 will be completely different.
      As for Rift, I played it and it was a lot better than wow because it offers something different, but the rifts do tend to get boring and repetitive. They say that after the release they are adding more dynamic content, but I’m not holding my breath, I’ll wait and see before I invest my money and time into it.

      • ” The game will be on multiple servers or “worlds,” but players will not be bound to a world and may therefore change servers easily”

        Accomplished from instancing.

        I can’t find the direct quote but the lead dev said something along the lines “There won’t exactly be as much instancing as in GW1, but we do have a lot of great ways on how to implement heavy instancing.”

        Plus, there is no dedicated healing class and all classes have an AoE cone heal. I just don’t find that appealing.

        NCsoft knows that zoning is a bad word and will refrain from using it. Don’t kid yourself though, it’s a free online game, stop following hype and use some analytical thinking.

        • This isn’t an article about bashing gw2, I was correcting something Dave said before giving my opinion on Rift. Gw2 will have the entire world as a persistent area save for dungeons, missions, and personal storyline.

  3. I’m currently in the beta myself. The first few levels until you go to the “past” is horribly boring. The combat system is also pretty bland. The skill system is interesting in that you really can be whatever you feel like being. The music, sound and graphics in general are pretty good. RIFT has some grind, but not as much as say, Aion. The instances with the Rifts are actually pretty fun, one click button and you are in a group helping repel attacks. I’m just now trying out mining, foraging, and crafting weapons. In short, I am enjoying myself, and I’ve been playing lone wolf. I’d imagine that the game would be more enjoyable with friends or a clan/guild.

    Would I buy this game? Yes. Would I pay a subscription fee? No, it’s not that good.

  4. I am playing the beta as well…and I haven’t played an MMO since WoW. I can safely say that I am pre-purchasing this game on Steam (duh)because it’s that fun! I will certainly give it serious consideration for a subscription fee.

  5. I’ve played the Beta and It’s pretty good so far . The class customization is incredible . Not only you can swap around 9 souls but there’s non conventional roles Aka : rogue tanks or healers , Tanking clerics , melee dps clerics etc etc…

    And for the Rifts well they do their job very well wich is regrouping everyone in the zone and making them work toward a common objective.You can be questing and suddently have a massive invasion with 12 rifts open , roaming bands of enemies , giant bosses . Everyone Drops their quests and starts working toward ”saving” their zone . You also get good rewards for completing them . So between normal quests , smaller rifts , invasions , instances and pvp the grind definatly is better.

    Rift is the next step in Mmo’s .

  6. I like RIFT. Yes it may base itself as a WOW clone, but I am ok with that because I think they have improved considerably over WOW. There are enough cool new features to grab my attention. It has been quite some time since any game has boosted my adrenaline up. RIFT has done that. I just hope that the growth (expansions)of the game is just as exciting and not a bad sequel.

    I am looking forward to the future of RIFT. From what I have read, it looks like we will (through expansions) be able to enter each of the Planes to battle on their ground. “The Life Plane has no ground and no sky but is a twisted labyrinth of flora and fauna, all competing for survival”.

    The BETA has been the cleanest that I have ever seen and it looks like this will be a top notch launch. I have experienced so many horrible launches it is a joke. One game that I really enjoyed was Vanguard Saga of Heros. The launch was so bad that they never recovered. EQ2 had a terrible launch as well as Final Fantasy 14. FF14 launched in November and is still not able to charge a subscription fee because they can get the game right.

    I would like to see mini games and housing in the game though. I have always wondered why these MMOs don’t put in some type of gambling/card games.

    Anyways I plan of ordering the game today. Hope you all join and have a blast.


  7. “Imagine running into Stormwind only to find all the NPCs are dead and an invading force has taken over and you can’t even use the auction house until you’ve cleared the city of said invasion!!”

    WoW players have already experienced this. In the run-up to Cataclysm, elementals invaded major cities and NPC interactions were impossible until all enemies had been cleared — a task requiring up to 30 minutes depending on the server and time of day, occurring every three hours. It got old within a week.

  8. “”Imagine running into Stormwind only to find all the NPCs are dead and an invading force has taken over and you can’t even use the auction house until you’ve cleared the city of said invasion!!”

    WoW players have already experienced this. In the run-up to Cataclysm, elementals invaded major cities and NPC interactions were impossible until all enemies had been cleared — a task requiring up to 30 minutes depending on the server and time of day, occurring every three hours. It got old within a week.”

    What if I have a life and I missed that opportunity? RIFT has them all the time. Troll.

  9. I played wow for years from ZG/MC through the end of WotLK, quitting at the near the end of 2010. I just bought and started playing Rift earlier this week because some friends all got it. HOLY SHIT RIFT IS FUCKING AMAZING. In my opinion, it blows WoW out of the water in most aspects. The biggest thing is that character development is so much more diverse. In WoW, you see the same 10 classes all spec’d pretty much the same way, but in Rift you have the 4 archetypes that have THOUSANDS of combinations for class souls. On top of that, you have 3 additional offspecs called “roles.” I remember dual-spec from WoW, and it still didn’t provide much relief to juggle around your different PVE and PVP specs, along with glyphs and junk. Rift over WoW, hands down.

  10. WoW is broken, the tech support SUCKS.  After watching that developer video above, there, I am ready to make the switch to Rift.

  11. Rift, wow doesnt matter they’re all out for the money not the game.. fuck em all i say. Rift’s support is even worse than wow (yeh they may take almost a week to get back to you on wow but at least you can actually post your tech problem). Honestly give up MMOs as anything with a monthly contract is just ridiculous… your paying about a 100 pounds for a game which absorbs your life and evidentaly will just fuck you over.. i mean that in the sense of money, social and study wise.. yes yes some ppl have a “balance”, no thats called denial. wake up, fuck these pricks who are taking our money. I’m going to spend my money on stuff that actually exists and will be with me for life! feel like i have wasted so much time on wow & now it took rift’s major tech fuck up to finally wake the dragon within me! Hope this changed lives.
    p.s I’m a dragon.