EpicToon Smacktalk: Is Rift Online A World of Warcraft Clone?

Less than two weeks to go before RIFT launches worldwide (it’s currently on a six-day open beta) and fans are proclaiming it be a breakthrough, next-generation MMO. But critics are dismissing it as just another World of Warcraft clone. Russ and Mick discuss what makes RIFT both a standout and a copycat.

Russel’s Rant

I’m looking at screenshots and watching video here, and I’ve seen you play it for a bit… I have to say I can’t for the life of me understand how you can say this is anything but a WoW clone.

Yes, I agree that the graphics are much more technically accomplished (not necessarily prettier) and yes, the whole rift opening thing adds variety and spices things up, but by and large I fail to see how Rift does enough to stand out from the crowd.

From afar it looks like any other WoW-wannabe, and I think that will be its biggest problem, first impressions are lasting!

Take a look at most other post-WoW MMO’s and you’ll see a pattern emerging. Age of Conan, DC Universe Online, Star Trek Online. A lot of them do a pretty good job of distancing themselves from World of Warcraft by virtue not just of their licenses, but also their gameplay content and the first impressions they make when gamers see them. You’d never in a million years walk by a monitor when someone’s playing DCUO and think it was WoW. Can the same be said of Rift? I’m not sure.

I readily concede you’ve played it much more than I have (I only just got my beta key) and will have a better idea of what the nuts and bolts of gameplay offer, but I’m almost certain that when most gamers get a look at Rift, they’ll dismiss it as another in a long conveyor belt of MMO’s that are trying to ape wow’s success. Warhammer Online comes to mind… is that still running? I kid! I kid!

Mick’s Shtick

Despite being an obvious fanboy of RIFT, I will concede that it has blatantly copied a lot of features from WoW, which in turn copied them from earlier MMOs like EverQuest.

Off the top of my head: The user interface, achievement system, chat system and questing guides are similar. Look, I’m not making excuses for RIFT, but it’s very difficult to improve on features that WoW has almost perfected in terms of player usability.

Yes, RIFT ported the functionality of WoW wholesale, but the similarities stop there, because the atmospheres of the two games are palpably different.

There is an urgency to RIFT that hits you in the first hour of play. Telara is in perpetual siege mode and the whole point of your existence as an Ascended hero is to stop the invaders from plunging the world into complete oblivion.

Mobs spawn at random times in fluctuating intensity so that one play session can be an uneventful quest grind while the next will become an epic faction-wide campaign. The soul class system is sprawling and there are literally thousands of ways to play your class.

Frankly, RIFT is what the Cataclysm expansion should have felt like—urgent and unpredictable. However, WoW has become too big, too structured, and too familiar, the best it could do was shake up the giant tree, light up the fallen leaves and call it a revamp.

Don’t get me wrong, RIFT is not revolutionary or ground-breaking or innovative. It just feels fresh. And sometimes that’s all it takes for a fickle MMO fan, yours included.


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