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From the ads that I've seen, Rift looks very much like a WoW-clone. (One ad's tag line was "We're not in Azeroth anymore"). What would a new player to Rift expect having come from World of Warcraft?

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Their entire marketing campaign seems to be based on comparing it to WoW. It is the elephant in the world of MMOs, but come on. – Nick T Mar 29 '11 at 15:39
As a disappointed customer (not because of the design though), I can't write a full answer, but there's a striking lack of innovation in some parts of their ability design: WoW's Vanish vs. Rift's Slip Away, WoW's Blind vs. Rift's Blinding Powder with many more of such skill copies. – Tomasz Łazarowicz Mar 29 '11 at 16:15
Actually WoW is just a clone of previous MMOs in terms of design and spells. So finding similarities between WoW and any other MMO doesn't mean WoW invented it. If anything, WoW just ripped off everquest. But this isn't a discussion. – Resorath Mar 29 '11 at 16:28
Even if WoW is a proto-WoW clone, it's success and fame enables it to act as a well-known baseline to compare other mmorpgs to. – Arkive Mar 29 '11 at 17:02
VTC as per this meta – Wipqozn Mar 24 '12 at 0:23
up vote 19 down vote accepted

Rift is, in many ways, an homage to World of Warcraft. There's two factions, the UI and interface is very similar, heck, the rogues even use the same 5-combo points and energy system as their WoW brethren.

The most obvious difference is Rift's Soul system. WoW has 10 classes, each with 3 talent trees each, whereas Rift has 4 Classes, with 8.5 talent trees each (8 full talent trees, or "souls" as they're called, plus a class-specific PvP sub-spec). While in WoW, each class has a core bunch of abilities that they learn regardless of spec, Rift's abilities are entirely dependent on which soul tree you select. You pick up to 3 souls at once, and can spend as little or as many points in all of them as you wish.

The other major difference is the titular "Rifts", which are open world PvE objectives that dynamically appear (in both strength and number) depending on the active players in the zone. Rifts are an alternative to questing or grinding, and provide comparable gear upgrades at the planar vendors.

Like WoW, Rift has battlegrounds, instances, heroic instances, and raids. You can queue for the battlegrounds from anywhere (called "Warfronts" in Rift), and like WoW, Rift has a Dungeon Finder tool that lets you queue for dungeons, raids, and group quests.

There are undoubtedly more differences between the games (Rift appears to be much larger and harder to navigate; "flightpaths" aren't nearly as numerous as in WoW), but the Soul-system and the Rifts are definitely the two biggest.

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Well said Raven, great answer. The more I play Rift, the more I enjoy the game over WoW. It appears like WoW but its flow is of its own. – Robb Mar 30 '11 at 1:06
To add additional comparisons to existing MMOs. Rifts events are much akin to Warhammer's Public Quest system, only dynamic in style and location. Rift has the artifact system, which is pretty much a direct clone of that of EQ2 "shinies". Transport is also much more like EQ2, with very limited fast travel options and forcing the player to actually explore and take effort in getting from point A to point B. The UI is indeed WoWish and a lot of the quests are pretty standard MMO fare, but it appears that Rift has cherry picked from various sources, not just WoW. – TheQ Mar 30 '11 at 13:35
@TheQ, couldn't agree more on the Warhammer Public Quest analogy. Except Rifts can be close in a pretty fast period of time and even solo'd. I think people log into Rift and expect such a WoW clone then wind up with something that isn't that WoWish and never was meant to be. – Robb Mar 31 '11 at 22:25

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