Aria and I put in some time with the Rift 5 beta last night and enjoyed ourselves. The Guardian starting area is IMO much better than that of the Defiant in terms of feeling MMO-ish rather than super on-rails. After the initial hour or so it won’t matter, but as a first impression the Guardian zone does a nice job of pulling you into the conflict while also playing somewhat like a traditional themepark MMO zone. I still think that’s the market for Rift; the people who really enjoy a more zone-like free-form MMO, rather than the step-by-step handholding that is the latest trend.
I’m playing a cleric this time, and I like that the different souls all play more like a warrior priest from WAR than a robed wimp who does nothing but heal like in WoW. I also like how each of the souls is clearly defined in terms of healing style (AoE, HoT, Single Target burst, etc) and fighting style (ranged, melee). It makes selecting what you want initially a bit easier/faster, while still allowing you to switch things up later thanks to the respecs. It only takes reading a few short descriptions to make that melee-driven, buff-wielding, HoT-healing character you believe will duo well. And since I know I can respec, I’m not pouring over very tree making sure I don’t ‘do it wrong’ and get something that’s either gimped or not fun to play. Again it’s a small detail, but so far Rift seems to be getting all of the small details right.
Aria is playing a warrior, with the first soul being a beastmaster. Note to players: if you don’t summon your pet at level one, you can’t beat the first mob the game asks you to fight, and you will die. Leave it to the super noob to die on the first mob in a themepark, but at least it proves it CAN be done. That’s worth something, I think. I will say her character does have a very fancy Charge move similar to WoW’s warrior, but Rift’s version just looks more impressive, as it’s somewhat more to a Diablo 2 Barbarians’ leap than the ‘sprint really fast’ move in WoW. Devil/details/blablabla.
Likely more tomorrow as we move on from the starting area and into ‘the real game’.