Rift vs. LotRO vs. World of Warcraft – a closer look at all three MMOs (Part 3)

Part 1: How much do the games cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?

Part 2: What can I play (races and classes?)

Today’s topic: What does the game look like?

Keep in mind that World of Warcraft has a very different graphic style and was released back in 2004. Lotro was released in 2007. Rift is the newest of those three and was just released this spring (March 1, 2011 in the USA to be more precise). Do not expect high-end graphics. Although you should never really expect those when you are looking at MMOs. First of all, it takes much longer to develop those games than “simple” offline games. Second, there should be some kind of emphasis on the “massive” in MMORPG. So, of course, the graphics should scale down somewhat so a lot of players can actually play the game without having to buy a new PC. WoW does it very well, apparently, and you can play the game even on a very old PC. My latop, which only uses onboard graphics, can play WoW. It can also play LotRO although I have a lot less FPS there (and, of course, both games look ugly with the graphic settings on “very low”). All screenshots were taken with the graphic settings on at least “high”.

I am going to use dwarves as a reference for the character models because I played them in most games. My dwarf in LotRO is still small, though. I could have used humans as all three games offer them (which fantasy game doesn’t?) but they’re boring. Elves would have also been a possibility but even though I usually have at least one elf character, I don’t really like them too much. ;) So, dwarves* it is.

Let’s start with World of Warcraft. Nothing special here about them. Just the ordinary dwarves. I like the proportions of the female dwarf. And I personally think they are cute. But apparently, I’m in a minority. I always like telling the story how the first stranger in WoW that communicated with me was some guy telling me to please delete my dwarf and reroll her because he did not want to have to look at fat characters in the game. *sigh* Oh well. In the English version of the game, they have a Scottish dialect. Very cute! The German version doesn’t have this (Draeneis also don’t have an accent in the German version). This is just one of many reasons why I avoid using the German version.

These are Rift’s dwarves. Unfortunately, I don’t have a better picture of the male dwarf (my account isn’t active at the moment). At first, I didn’t like them at all. Their arms and hands are huge! But then I saw an NPC in game and I liked how he looked. With a robe and a staff in his hands, the arms and hands aren’t that noticeable anymore. Still, it does look a bit like an ape.

I saved the cutest couple for last. LotRO dwarves, male and female! Well, it is said that you cannot differentiate between those two, so technically, it would be correct to play one as a female dwarf. To quote from Wikipedia: “In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien writes that they breed slowly, for no more than a third of them are female, and not all marry; also, female Dwarves look and sound (and dress, if journeying — which is rare) so alike to Dwarf-males that other folk cannot distinguish them, and thus others wrongly believe Dwarves grow out of stone. Tolkien names only one female, Dís. In The War of the Jewels Tolkien says both males and females have beards.”

I decided to choose a handful of scenery and gameplay screenshots to give you a basic overview of what the games look like. However, I soon ended up with too many pictures that I really liked. Even after going through them two times, I still have too many. So, I decided to just show three for each game here. If you look at those three and want to see more, then follow the link to the folders where I uploaded the rest. I “blacked out” parts of the screenshots where I saw other people’s character names. I don’t know how they feel about having their character names appear on my screenshots here, so I thought it’s safer just to remove them.

Let’s start with World of Warcraft again. The first picture shows my Draenei mage casting. The game’s interface can be changed drastically with the use of add ons. So this isn’t the standard interface that you see. The little bars with info on the top and on the bottom are part of an add-on, for example. So are the life bars. The second picture shows the Worgen starter area. Please not the enemy Worgen on top of the roof. Now add some eerie music and you get the right feeling. I absolutely loved this starter area! That and the Goblin one (those are the new ones that were added with Cataclysm in December) are a lot of fun with a nice story and not so much “kill 10 rats” quests as usual. The third one shows the underwater region added with Cataclysm. I added this one to the preview here because not every game has underwater quest areas. And even though I’m actually very afraid of everything “underwater” (except for seahorses, they are actually quite cute!), I enjoyed most of the quests there and really loved the rich colours! If you want to see more screenshots, then follow this link.

Next up is LotRO. The first screenshot, once again, shows you the interface and my warden while she’s fighting two goblins. No add ons were used (they weren’t available at that point). The box on top of her life bars is a mechanic specific to wardens. I mainly use the first three skills in her skill bar in certain combinations, then press “4” to use the combination (in this case, I built the skill “Fierce Resolve” with the combination of yellow, red, green). The second screenshot shows a part of Rivendell. You usually don’t get there until you’re in your 20s, I think. I rode my little level 10 elf over there, however, because only Rivendell has the superior crafting facility that she needed. I had to dodge quite some bears on my ride but it was worth it even if just for the scenery there! This is part of what I love about this game: Turn around, disable your interface, take a screenshot and there’s a high chance that the screenshot turns out to show picturesque and pretty scenery (unless you’re in a cave fighting orcs and goblins). The third screenshot shows… erm… hmm… I think it’s still part of the Shire? Could be closer to Bree, though. Some place in between, at least. ;) With farms, mills and everything you’d expect to find in a still relatively peaceful rural area. Just as with WoW, you can have a look at this folder if you want to see more!

The last one is Rift. As above, the first one is a screen of my character fighting. Also no addons. But the interface is customizable just like in LotRO. This is a picture from the starter area. The swords below her life bars are part of this class’s combat mechanics. Some skills do more damage or give you a buff when you activate them and have more of those little swords (which are added by using certain skills). The second screenshot is from the Defiant starting area. It’s not always as peaceful as it looks now. I once turned around and saw enemy NPCs invade this little place (it’s a quest hub, by the way). Scary! ;) You’re never safe unless you’re in your capital city, I guess. That rock standing next to me is an earth elemental, by the way. It belongs to my mage. She’s an elementalist which probably doesn’t surprise you now. ;) And the last screenshot for today shows a little hut. I think it’s still really pretty! If Rift had housing, I’d probably want something like this! Reminds me of hobbits. More pictures can be found here.

This is it for today. The next posting will be about the PvE side of those games covering things like quests and dungeons. And as always: If you have any questions or found a mistake, please comment. :)


* By the way, WordPress kept telling me that “dwarves” was wrong and “dwarfs” was right. But I was certain it’s “dwarves”. Oh well, I learned something new now. Both spellings are okay, apparently. To quote from that page: “For dwarf, the common form of the plural was dwarfs—as, for example, in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—until J. R. R. Tolkien popularized dwarves; he intended the changed spelling to differentiate the “dwarf” fantasy race in his novels from the cuter and simpler beings common in fairy tales, but his usage has since spread.” – Since it derived from Tolkien, I thought it’d fit to this entry as a side note. :)