I love the look of the world, it's gorgeous on ultra, but very playable on low settings too. As I'm in need of a motherboard upgrade, I'm playing on low. Ultra though I still have a higher FPS than I do in other games, even with a busy beta weekend on a full server.
Telara has the feeling of a world in crisis., something so many MMO's fail to capture - the tension and upheaval. I love the worlds MMO's designers have put out there, but ones like World of Warcraft, I've never felt the tension between Qeynos and Freeport or between the Alliance and Horde (I've read all the books and it's absent from the game), the impending doom that is supposedly always threatening. I've actually enjoyed the changes they've made in Cataclysm, but still there doesn't seem a huge threat of destruction, like I feel in RIFT.
(Beginning of a rift outside Meridian)
RIFT, you feel it. The rifts can't be ignored, well they can, but if you don't stop them, the quest area/zone you're in can be controlled by an invasion. The NPC's get into the fight and if they die - you can't turn in your quest or travel or stand in one place for that matter! You literally have to be involved with what's going on. It's not safe to go cruising down the road or afk in a quest hub or out in the world as you may run into an invasion force and you're dead! They attack everything - the mobs roaming around, other rifts - its a world in continual chaos and it's awesome! During beta the sky has been black a few times with the number of rifts they were throwing at us, but how wonderful when they were all cleared - the land was at peace, skies were blue - a sense and feel of we've saved Telara for another day!
Having the auto-join public group at a rift event is much like Warhammer's public quests. They're hectic and fun (I haven't tried healing through one, just random heals on the mage), but I can imagine that might be a bit frantic. The rifts can't be underestimated either, as they're strength is worked off the people in the area, so a level 10 rift with a heavy load around hits like a mac truck! We had a group on the last boss on a level 19 rift, and he kicked our group to the curb repeatedly even though we had many that were much higher level than he was. Then again, I've been the only one around and have closed a rift. It takes time, but it can be done.
For those that haven't been in beta, the world of Telara is under attack by Regulos and other dragons from the planes that intersect on Telara, allowing the rifts to open. At least that's my understanding. The two factions, Guardian and Defiant have the same goal but opposing ways to do accomplish it, basically get rid of the evil and reclaim their world. I've played both sides and honestly don't have a preference. I assumed I would like the Guardians (Alliance, Qeynosian...), but I like the Defiant as well and have spent more time in Freemarch/Stonefield than the Guardian side.
I've spent the past two beta tests trying the different classes and so far - thrilled! I knew I'd like the rogue class and cleric, but surprisingly I like the variety of the mage class as well. I've either loved or hated that class (same with warriors), but have played all both sides to mid-teens early 20's and thoroughly enjoy all of them. I can definitely see playing this both sides and all four classes.
My first character, an Eth Rogue (ranger/marksman/blade dancer), she's since added another Role (spec) and some of the other Souls. I really like Saboteur and Bard. I haven't tried the more melee souls yet such as Assassin, Riftstalker, Nightblade, but will. I did test Alchemy and have been playing around with the dyes to customize their looks too.
What I've really noticed in the chat channels, is a real division from those that came from EQ, EQ2, LoTRO and WoW. The first three games, people keep asking for things to be harded and really only ask questions on how to do something that isn't intuitive or easy, whereas many of the WoW players are putting little to no effort in finding out how to do something. All the questions are what's the best spec for X, these quests are long, how do I find a bank, etc. My thinking is get out and look around! Exploring isn't part of their game. They're worried about what they'll do at end game, and the game isn't released! I find that sad in many ways as I'm sure they'll enjoy the game, but I just feel they miss so much, rushing to 'end game' without seeing the whole world.
Crafting for instance, the questions were endless what is the best ones for a rogue (example). My thought - it's beta just try them all! That's what I'm doing, trying and giving feedback. Crafting is very easy, more wow-like than I'd want in truth, as there isn't any skill involved. Click make and you're done.
Any faults with RIFT, not really. There are things they still need to tweak, but the designers/developers are really listening to players input - a first and making changes/adjustments based on that. My biggest complaints bag space, a better buff/debuff bar for targets and I want a pet target frame. That's about it. The UI is highly customizable, so I won't see the need for a bunch of add ons to move things around. All in all, RIFT has to be the most polished beta I've been in to date. Heck, better than some games at release! I pre-order last month, and love the two-headed turtle mount and bigger bag.
Next beta, instances and PvP! I honestly can't wait until February 24th, to get into the game for real!