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All of what follows is, of course, opinion. Going to look at a large amount of categories of these games and grade em A-F
First thing you see when starting up an MMO
EQ2: B+ - large racial variety, decent amount of appearance options
WoW: C+ - nice amount of races, very limited options
Rift: C- -decent appearance customization, but one of the worst race selections in any MMO
SWToR: D -only slightly better than WoW in appearance customization, but the race selection sucks gven the IP
Newbie Zone(s) and Tutorial:
WoW: B -varied zones for each race, good pace brnging you along
SWtoR: B -the voice overs are a good intro, less variety than WoW but a good intro to the game
EQ2: B- -the zones are all well done, but it feels a little more overwhelming than the other two
Rift: C -Puts its worst foot forward. Rifts dont even come into play until after the zone, and there is only one zone per faction. You get way too many abilities that overlap/are useless
WoW: B+ -Even before expansons, azeroth was fairly large. Lots of prexsting lore, and its displayed well. Varied areas
EQ2: B+ -Almost the same reasons as WoW. The lore doesnt come through as much in EQ2, its more subtle. The world is larger, but the islands make up of the original zones kinda sucks. The expansions fare much better
Rift: C- -world is small, and the lore isnt spectacular.
SWToR: C- -world is much bigger, but nt as open as it should be. Star Wars lore saves this from being an even lower grade.
Leveling Experience(first time):
WoW: A- -great quest presentation, active dungeons, active battlegrounds, good storylines. Plenty of places to go. Downgrades a little because 61-85 isnt quite as good as 1-60, but the first time through its not as bad
SWToR: B -lots of stories to be told, its still active enough that you can get the group quests done (YMMV, but Ive never had issues).
Rift: B- -Dungeon queues are long, but since they wisely marged servers they are no longer dead while leveling, and events actually happen n 20-45 zones,although not super common. Quests kind of suck, but its still fun going throgh zones- the first time
EQ2: C -Not a low grade because of quality, but because the top heavy aspect hurts. Freeport can bump this up to a B because its much more active. The quest lore for the leveling content isnt that great though. There is a fantastic selection of dungeons, some open world some instanced if you can get folks to do em.
Leveling Experience(alt replayability):
WoW B+ -remans fun for all the same reasons, plus multiple zones each level means youll see different things, if you want
EQ2: C -same grade as the first character, lots of content, and again those dungeons. Youll probably have a better network of friends the second time and do more of them.
Rift: C- -kiind of boring second time through, due to repeated content
SWTOR: C- -yes, you get a new main quest...but youve seen everything else already
Rift: A- -Im one of the guys that *doesnt* love the soul system. I think the individual souls are a little too watered down to make the thing work better. Still, Im the minority and most people love it
EQ2: B -Good class variety with most well defined and desirable. AAs are often cookie cutter but there is a good deal of choice to be had
WoW: B- -Talent trees are cookie cutter, but they all are useful and on most cases ar elike 3 seperate classes, they play that differently.
SWTOR: D -uninspired use of talent tree system, not man choices at all
EQ2: B -amount of quests is great, and your wares are HIGHY desriable for leveling characters. The system gets tedious though and the max level usefulness is iffy.
SWToR: C- -if they fix high level crafting usefulness it would go up to a C+
Rift, WoW: D uninspired, boring. Useless as you level since you outlevel your skill too fast. Not 100% worthless at max level
This is taking longer than I thought....just going to do grades for the rest:
Max level, solo content
Max level, group content
EQ2, WoW: B-
Max level small raid content:
WoW, EQ2: B-
Max level large raid content:
EQ2, WoW: B
Rift: B- (Only one raid added in the last 11 months, yes I know one is coming)
Non Combat stuff:
SWTOR: B- (WHAT????? 1.2 looks awesome, Bioware does seem dedicated to development, I am givng them some benefit of the doubt here...this could drop rapidly still)
EQ2: C (honestly from 2006-2009 SoE was a solid A for EQ2, but 2010-11 have been weak plus that whole past history thing)
WoW: C- (wheres the damn content? Cataclysm sucked. Too much income to not have more content)