Starting out the Story....well it is there I really do not have a clue what is going on beyond typical fantasy cliches of great evil comes into the world and dragons, always with the dragons but any ways in MMOs as apposed to most other games i really do not care about the story much. So it isn't too much of a problem to me.
So we have two factions to choose from the Guardians, champions of the gods, and the Defiant, who wish to follow their own patch. Each faction has three races the guardians get humans, elf and dwarf.... great the three "good" fantasy races that have been used since Tolkien. Yeah let us see what Defiant has to offer, Desert dwelling humans, dark elves and some kind of brutish orc-elf blend thing. Well ok basically the opposite of the other faction but it as least looks like they put some effort into these in terms of something unique.
The character creation system is very involved with a multitude of options from eye rotation to the color of your hair highlights about a million more from WoW perhaps too many but it is fun to play around with so many options.
Now we get to something rift is known for being the class system. So basically there are 4 base classes: Warrior, Clerc, Mage & Rogue. You then get to basically pick your talent trees out of about 8 for each class. They are called Souls here. You can mix and match how you like though there are combination that obviously work better. I will say I really do like this system and the ideas of being able to have more control over how you play your character. So for my main character I chose a warrior and my Souls were: Beastmaster, Champion and warlord. This gave me a pet (I am a pet whore i love having combat companions in games) and then Two handed based attacks with champion and debuffs with warlord. This is the "optimal" combination involving these souls but I could have easily gone any random combos and i really like that idea.
Getting into game play though is where things start to go down hill imo. Again coming from WoW there is not much in the way of innovation. The combat system works exactly the same for example rogues with combo points and finishers (yes I know this didn't start with wow but again where most of my info comes from). The quests are another big let down. Just go here kill 10 things go back rinse and repeat 12 times and then you level and do it again and i just can not be bothered to even read the quest text. Now WoW back in the day were like this as well how ever before starting wow I have been leveling a dwarf shaman through the new 1-60 cata content and it is so well done now that you actually care about the stories and each zone has a contained and generally well organized story that makes you feel like you are part of something.
Now having discussed the negatives I will give the dev teams praise on the aspects of world events which completely blow WoW out of the water. The titular rifts and various invasions are a lot of fun and joining with a band of random people all on a common goal to defeat these evils from destroying the world. I scrounged all my money to get a mount for the sole purpose of being able to roam around the zone and engage in rift events.
I will release the second part of this review in order to discuss an instance and possibly PVP as well as my final thoughts!