it has to happen, guys. I play them both and we're all of us comparing in our minds.
I'll start more generally and move to something more or less specific as we go along. And for those of you who do not know, Julienne is the first character, and 90% of new users with customizable characters create first characters with a lot in common to themselves or the selves they wish they were, so like 90% of other users, my first or "main" character is blonde and lovely and tougher around her edges than she had to be because she was my learning character, I'm quite specific about this because the second one created is still a baby and goes months without being taken from the shelf because she's who I would really like to be if I could and I feel like I never do her justice. :) Sweetassyn is the sexy redhead created just to explore and not have to do for herself. She's what I think of as the perfect girl in every way, in my mind the girl with every option and opportunity I never got, or in this case, Jules never got.
So now you know... Jules = Blonde and Sweetassyn = Redhead
ok. WoW vs Rift and Rift vs WoW
First I'd like to make it very clear that for a lot of reasons I love them both and it keeps them fairly equal in my mind.
Rift is dynamic and they've kept that promise in my mind and experience entirely. Jules and Syn have had very different experiences in Rift as they leveled. Different world events, different rifts, different battle grounds and different player experiences. Julienne has shard firsts and accomplishments against the plane of death that Syn will never hold and Syn has kicked the living crap out of the plane of water. They are such different characters and such different playing types that they are literally drawn to different experiences naturally, as though by the creators of the game. Both of them have enjoyed fantastic views and brilliant special effects that literally ground you to the playing field with your mouth open and a WTF over your head, if you're a player like myself. The outcome is that sometimes you leap into an event ready to go and prepared and every once in awhile you are stilled, character and player, trying to think fast before your character dies. I love that. I really do. Rift is so faceted that you can literally live entirely different lives through your created characters.
WoW is staid, familiar and so much funnier and cleverer in it's old age that it draws me back time and time again to the tried and true friend. For every quest there is another zone somewhere else that something else is happening. Julienne is able to experience a different life from Syn because the world is so vast and expansive that they never have to have met even though they were both "born" in the forests of Elwynn and were both educated at Stormwind Academy to become superior warriors. One spent her whole life in Kalimdor and all over the map while the other progressively leveled as though she'd chosen a Dwarven path and avoided Kalimdor in place of Eastern Kingdoms and straight to Outlands and beyond. The game play is less dynamic in place of varied and the artwork is less brilliant than bold and beautiful. My two girls have much in common and I have to work to keep the gameplay between them different and I find that sometimes I prefer it that way. As though somehow warriors should feel familiar as though they shared the same teachers a few years apart and still learned many of the same techniques and practices.
If I could have only one I'd quit them both... as an overall experience. Rift is LITERALLY dynamic, look the word up... and I love that for it's ups and downs. WoW is bold and beautiful and less dynamic in place of varied and being tried and true.
Now on a more specific level:
Rift plays very much like many other games and in this I find only one benefit over WoW. Trion developers do not want their users mucking up their game and experience with addon bits of software and so they have worked very hard to include the functionality of the top 10 most used addons into their base software while also incorporating the very many that Blizzard incorporated at the start of WoW to accommodate their user base at the time. I can play Rift and a tutorial will introduce me to the functionality right from the start. For some gamers this is frustratingly kindergarten, and to them I say "pissoff." I love being able to customize my screen at character creation and move on from there forward, I love being reminded that I have an exceptional bit of assistance from the creators of the game because I'm playing two different games and I have a real life, so there's less room in my brain for instant recall of every possible combination and application.
When I head back over to WoW I have to readjust my mind to downloading updated addons and remembering which ones they've added to the UI later and try to keep them balanced and still have a playing experience that mirrors Rift for customizable functionality and joy. I run only 5 addons, and I'll admit one of them makes everything in Rift seem... uncommunicative. I still love not having to do the constant maintenance that I do on WoW. Seriously, I get five hours a week to play and one of them is frequently lost in adjusting, tweaking and downloading or managing my addons.
WoW has it and Rift does not. While Rift is much more amazingly customizable up front in character creation than WoW and both of my human warriors are painfully alike in WoW and much less so in Rift, I do actually like that Blizzard gave us a Barbershop a little while back. Jules and Syn likely will never change, I love them too much as the women they have been and, honestly, they're my RP girls because so many experiences are tied to each girl and each name over time, so they stay. I have other characters that change weekly because I like the paper doll quality of dressing them up and playing with their appearance.
Free Shard/Realm Transfer FROM YOUR OWN CHARACTER PAGE!
Rift gots it and WoW does not. I love it. I have two girls who are traveling the different faces of Telara and making friends or choosing not to as they go. They are not only rift hoppin' they are also shard hoppin' and in the experience I am not spending the $600.00 I spent on WoW to do the same damned thing. There are those of you who roll your eyes at any or all of these perks and I don't play with or for you anyway so fuckoff.
The real question is why can't Blizzard realize that it costs them more in the people who don't play because they feel like they don't like where they are and that would play if they could move and not spend money. Trion has Blizz by the balls on this one and some of their other little differences, I think. I'm not always the girl with the most dedication to hanging out where things feel stale, it's my own addiction to move from place to place and I love that Trion handed it to me. For the flakes and fruits like me who have frequent flyer miles in a fantasy world where there are no planes it's nice to finally get frequent flyer miles in a world where there are shards and planes.
Cross Server Friends and Parties
GO BLIZZARD! You fucking rock and I mean that in all the best godsdamned ways!!!
We've had RealID, something I have bemoaned and loved back and forth since it was born. For the same reason I shard and realm hop on my characters, and love changing their appearances or armor and look, I sometimes don't want people to find me playing in another place that looks the same and is just away from where they are. And other times I'm soooooo lonely. Blizz wont let us move for free and I'm done spending cash, so my characters are going to do this the hard way and stay where they are even when I hate it. And someone somewhere was very smart and played the "we're not as dynamic as our little brother and we're still the big brother with more brains" card and gave us cross server parties that can go into instances together preformed instead of waiting and hoping in the random group generator for dungeons and instances.
Between the same faction on different servers I can now spend time with sexy schmexy friends that I'm missing and while I'm still pissed Blizz wont let me just move around for free, at least they understand that some of us are done spending cash for the privilege and let us play together anyway.
Hey Blizz... WARDROBE BAGS OMG WTF
Trion beat you! You big dummies!!! Trion got it part right, and it's so perfect for those of us who love you and hate the limited way you let us store our clothes in game!
Rift has a "wardrobe" function that works very much like a 'this for that' function, really. I can put pieces into my wardrobe that look a particular way and they will override the appearance of my current armor in the same slot. Like a paper doll, if I want Jules to wear a sexy broad brimmed hat with a feather then she comes into combat against you wearing a sexy broad brimmed hat with a feather as far as you're concerned. Her real helm might be an incredibly ugly LoTR orc looking thing with mandibles that close over her pretty mouth. Anything in the wardrobe is neither in your bags nor in your bank... thank you Trion for "getting" that some of us have too many items of clothing because you guys give us too much shit.
What I have been petitioning Blizzard for is a wardrobe BAG... one that holds only clothes and armor and stuff of that nature and is massive, because who can't put three times the number of things in their closet than are really supposed to fit there? I even suggested it should carry the typical WoW humor and not show you the whole bag at once because it's bottomless like a real closet and can still only let you see the top 24 items... so in order to see something you know is there you have to clear spaces and keep digging. No joy. Godsdamnit. They're the ones requiring all this shit for different events and they're the ones making their game so damned addictive. Give us a solution. NOW.
There are lots of other differences and similarities and these are the ones that leapt to mind now.
Off to play a little of each and just have fun. I can't have a Death Knight anywhere but WoW and I can't have a sexy bard anywhere I play outside of Rift. For me it's all about the mood. My toons in WoW are mostly tied to other people and to Guilds and to experiences and RealID and... yeah. They come with some sense of personal responsibility. In Rift I've given up those responsibilities in place of being whomever and wherever I choose with no ties. All in the player, there... see... because regardless of dynamic or faceted play and regardless of free or paid transfers and barbershops, I'm still the most important element to balance and today I'm not feeling balanced enough for friends and responsibility. :)