If Rift and Guild Wars 2 had a baby, I would probably end up with my perfect MMO. Both games have features that I really love while also missing the mark in other areas. Together, however, it’d be great.
I love Rift’s open world. Switching between continents gives you a loading screen, but other than that, you can ride from one end to the other without encountering any loading screens! It’s just something I love in MMOs ever since I first experienced it in World of Warcraft once I had bought myself a computer that could run it reasonably well… I had only had a laptop at first and a very old desktop PC that had not been intended to be used for computer games. Anyway, it was so great being able to ride up a mountain and just looking around. I can do that in Rift as well. Of course, Guild Wars 2 has hills and mountains, too, but you can’t ever see the zone next to you. So the zones are usually visually blocked off by high mountains.
And then there is Rift’s housing system, the dimensions. I love this feature and it’s one of the main reasons I’m sticking with Rift. I like that they let you own a piece of their world – in an instanced area, of course. The UI for placing items is a bit clunky, but thankfully, somebody wrote an awesome mod that lets you easily move, rotate, scale items as you wish. I exchanged the floor in my house within a couple of minutes this way. I would, of course, prefer TrionWorlds released something like that themselves, so we’re not dependent on one person using their free time to create such a mod.
Rift also has guild dimensions, of course, so you can build something together if you want. Guild Wars 2’s guild hall just can’t compete with that. It’s for a whole guild, not a single player, and there’s just not enough items to really build something as you can in Rift.
From time to time, I also want a more relaxed questing experience, so Rift shines there as well. It is what we’d probably call “old-school” by now. You click a target, then you hit the numbers on your keyboard according to which skills you want to use. And if you need to move, you hit the WASD keys. That’s it. No action, no dodging or anything else that requires super fast reactions. On the other hand, Guild Wars 2’s combat can be more interesting and definitely more challenging! I just really can’t stand those fights where you’re downed in one hit without even seeing it come. It’s not happening as often anymore but it irks me whenever it does happen. Guild Wars 2 also requires you to react fast and while yes, it’s certainly a more interesting experience and I prefer this sometimes over the boring old-school combat in Rift, it can be a strain on my injured hand. So sometimes, I simply cannot play Guild Wars 2 even though I really wanted to. I guess, in my Rift Wars 2 game, it’d have to be a mix there – the way Guild Wars 2 handles combat including the dodging mechanic and the movements, but without being one-hit and without the downed state. Fights would have to be balanced differently then, but I sometimes feel like the developers count on the downed state… “being one hit isn’t so bad, the players can rally themselves again or be revived by others”.
Where Guild Wars 2 wins by a long shot is when it comes to its graphics and the world design. This game looks gorgeous if you ask me and I’d definitely want that in my combination of the two games. The art direction in the original Rift zones is nice, but some of the newer zones look too weird (the nightmare zones, for example). Guild Wars 2 has some of this as well, most of all the Orr zones. But still, I’m sorry to say, Rift is no competition here. And while I’m already mentioning the graphics: The characters, races and classes and their looks, should be from Guild Wars 2 as well! I would just like to add the dwarves from Rift to my Rift Wars 2. There simply can’t be a game without dwarves, especially female ones.
I would also take the builds and skill system from Guild Wars 2 over the one in Rift. Rift’s skills and talent trees feel bloated, with the exception of the Primalist which was added later than the others and has less talents to choose from. I must say, this is more than enough and I’d really love if they did that with the other classes as well. Rift has two advantages over Guild Wars 2, however. It has more variability when it comes to builds you can choose for any class and it has a template system! My main character currently has 8 template slots unlocked (you buy them with in-game currency). Rift would be unplayable without them, though. Guild Wars 2 has a clean system with limited skills to use at any given time. It’s much easier to memorize which skill does what like that. I also like not having to spend an hour just reading the talents for my three talent trees. :p
I mentioned mods in Rift: I always love when MMOs offer mod support like that. Rift has an incredibly easy user interface already and you can move everything around as you like. But with mod support like they have, you can customize the UI as you like. That’s what I love most about mods in MMOs, being able to customize the UI, so I can play the game with no issues and with having all the information on my screen exactly where I want it to be.
I’ve not been to any raids in either of the games, so I’m leaving that one out. I’m also not too happy with the PvP in either of these games, so we’d have to borrow from a different game here… Warhammer Online, perhaps, but with servers and an engine that actually support the necessary load? ;)
When it comes to open world experiences, both games are quite nice in that area. Both have open world invasions, public quests etc. So a combination of both would be quite nice, I think. In both games, you can’t just stop on the road and go afk without risking your character’s death. In both games, you can’t be quite sure to still have your NPC hub with all NPCs alive. It does make the world feel more alive and interesting.
I also love the gliding and the mount system in Guild Wars 2. What it also does better is the seasonal events, especially Wintersday! Rift has a few nice games for their events and I like the availability of holiday rewards. It just feels easier to earn the necessary currency to buy what I want in Rift’s events without feeling like I need to grind for them or take out my wallet and buy stuff with real money. Guild Wars 2, however, often has special zones for their events (like for Wintersday or the Bazaar of the Four Winds). Once again, the world design in Guild Wars 2 is amazing.
Sadly, I guess I’ll never get such an MMO. So, as I’ve been doing for the past few years, I will alternate between Guild Wars 2 and Rift. As soon as I’m bored or annoyed with one, I switch to the other and vice versa. Currently, I’m getting back into Guild Wars 2, just staying away from the story instances as my hand can’t handle that fast combat. Open world is fine, though, and there’s plenty to do and see in the open world. However, it never takes long until I miss the slow questing in Rift and the dimensions, of course. I have several construction spots in my main dimension that need my attention – and thanks to the mod, I can do that easily. If I had to rely on Trion’s UI for dimensions, once again, my hand couldn’t handle the strain it needs to place items.