So I played in Rift’s beta 4 last weekend. It’s very similar to WoW, yet I found it considerably more fun.
I like the character models better, for one. Pretty clearly a matter of taste. Rift’s character creation was good – I particularly liked the ability to choose two colors for your hair, the base color and the highlight. Would have been nice if there were any real options for changing the body.
The class system is fun. It takes much less time for your character to have enough abilities to be interesting, and the increased customization makes your character feel unique. I found planning my characters somewhat interesting in WoW, where it was just deciding what race/class combos I wanted to do – Rift is far better for that. And it appears it will be possible to switch up a character’s abilities significantly for more variety, which I like.
The biggest change, though, is that it has a point to its persistent open world. When a Rift or Invasion shows up, you actually want other people around, and fight with them. I found this quite fun. Also, I found just doing quests was more fun when I grouped with a second person – I think the difference from WoW is that enemies generally have more health. It’d be fun to try and figure out a pair of builds designed to quest together.