Summertime has traditionally always meant a decline in raid activity because many people went on vacation or were otherwise occupied enjoying the beautiful weather which left those who did not care for these kinds of distractions behind and frustrated. On the other hand, it could also be seen as an opportunity to focus on something else – a different project, so to speak – until things were coming back on track in autumn. That is what I usually did back in WoW; e.g. leveling another alt or go achievement hunting.
Since I am no longer raiding or interested in in-game achievements for that matter, I have decided to pursue my very own summer project nonetheless. While it cannot be called an experiment in the scientific sense, it will serve to satisfy my curiosity regarding two distinct aspects of MMO gaming, namely “free-to-play” and different server cultures. So here is, without further ado, the title of my summer project:
“F2P: SW:TOR vs RIFT”
The idea behind it is to test how the two games differ for F2P players who never spend any real money. SW:TOR offers an exhaustive overview of their F2P restrictions, some of which seem rather ridiculous, such as the reduced number of quickbars or the lack of certain emotes (/hello – WTF?!). RIFT on the other hand claims “NO TRAILS. NO TRICKS. NO TRAPS.” Whether or not that is actually true remains to be seen. I can already attest to the fact that RIFT (same as SW:TOR) allows only two characters per server for F2P players. Unlike SW:TOR, however, that is not made explicitly clear until one tries to create a third character. Moreover, there have also been some problems with the auction house not working properly for F2P players. As it stands now, F2P players can use the auction house only to buy items, but are unable to create their own auctions at all. Again, this is not stated anywhere explicitly.
I have created two brand-new accounts specifically for the purpose of the summer project with characters on the two French PvE realms Mantle of the Force (SW:TOR) and Nomi (RIFT) respectively. I did not have any characters on either server prior to the experiment; in fact RIFT is an entirely new game for me. This will allow me to experience the differences in server culture at least from SW:TOR’s perspective where it also has the additional benefit of eliminating possible Legacy interferences.
My character on Mantle of the Force is a Cyborg Commando, currently level 19 (courtesy of the recent Double XP Weekend). I purposefully chose the Republic Trooper because it has one of my favourite class stories – only surpassed by the Jedi Consular and, of course, the Imperial Agent – and the Commando Advanced Class due to Hail of Bolts, which I consider to be one of the best abilities greatly facilitating trash groups.
On Nomi I decided in favour of the Defiants and created a Kelari Warrior, currently level 21. I did a bit of research beforehand because I wanted to try something different this time. So, very unusually for me, I went with a dual-wielding melee character that I enjoy immensely at the moment. I must also say that this guide was tremendously helpful in getting me started in RIFT.
Over the course of the summer, I will now and then write a post comparing the two games and their respective F2P models. At times I will also include observations on the different server cultures. I am always open to suggestions and will try my best to answer specific questions.