This is part 2 of my closer look at Rift, World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. Part 1 looked at the cost of those three MMOs and which additional security measures they offer for your account (of course, you are responsible for having separate login names and passwords for each of your accounts!).
What can I play (races and classes)?
All three games offer a variety of races and classes.
Rift and WoW have two factions each with different races on each side. In LotRO there is only the “free people” (and the creep monsterplay which I will write about in the PvP-section).
World of Warcraft has 12 races all together – Horde (Taurens, Trolls, Undead, Orcs, Blood Elves and Goblins) and Alliance (Humans, Night Elves, Gnomes, Dwarves, Draenei and Worgen). Only certain races can play certain classes. Also, Blood Elves and Draenei require the Burning Crusade expansion. Goblins and Worgen require the Cataclysm expansion.
Lord of the Rings Online has 4 races. Men, hobbits, elves and dwarfs. The usual which you are probably familiar with if you have at least watched the movies. No female dwarves, of course. Or let’s rather say: You can’t tell if they are male or female. ;)
Rift offers quite some freedom when it comes to “creating” your class. You have 4 archetypes: Mage, Cleric, Warrior and Rogue. Each of those archetypes has 8 souls (plus one PvP soul) to choose from. You can always have three of them at a time and put skill points into them. It would be too much to discuss in length what this class system means or which combinations are possible. Let’s just say that this is the aspect I enjoyed most about the game! It gives you a lot of diversity and you can still switch your role without having to reroll a character (e.g. I have a cleric. I can heal with her or choose a tanking role or maybe a melee one?). There are four builds that you can save and load whenever you’re out of combat. This post gives you more information if you’re interested. The screenshot shows the character creation screen and a female dwarf. There are quite a few options to choose from. It is not as ‘free’ as Aion is but that also means that dwarves always look like dwarves and their proportions always fit (no giant head on a 2 ft tall character, for example).
The other two games are a bit more conservative. WoW offers 10 classes and “dual spec”. The 10th class, the Death Knight, is only available if you have bought the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion. The Death Knight starts at level 55. All other classes start at level 1. Dual Spec lets you choose two different talent builds that you can switch between fights (e.g. one build for healing and one for damage if you are a priest). The screenshot shows a goblin. One of the two races that were added with Cataclysm in December. WoW has very limited character creation options. You can decide for several different faces but can’t decide for a certain eye colour to go with a certain nose, chin, ears etc. Also, no changing of the body height or anything like that.
LotRO also gives you the option to respec like Rift and WoW do as well, but there’s no way to switch between builds easily or even save a template or something like that. LotRO gives you 9 classes. Two of those, the warden and the rune-keeper, are not included in the f2p-package. You have to buy them separately. As the screenshot shows, LotRO is somewhat in between Rift and WoW when it comes to the choices you get when creating a character. While you can decide for your character’s eye colour separately, you cannot decide for many facial features independently. And even the choices you get do not make such a big difference to how your character looks, actually. At least, when it comes to women. Males can have better differences because of their bears (unless you choose an elf, of course). Here, you can’t change your height but you can change the body type from a bit chubby to a bit more muscular.
That is all for today. Tomorrow, we will see what the games actually look like. Prepare for quite some – hopefully nice – screenshots!