I’ve played a lot of MMOs and in nearly every one I’m a caster, therefore casting animations are kind of a near and dear thing to me. Some games have wowed me, EverQuest, and others have let me down, World of Warcraft. To be fair the only reason EQ really wowed me is I had nothing to compare it to, every spell was really just an explosion of different colors that resembled a cheap Tijuana firework, but I loved it though. WoW’s spells never seemed special to me though. They didn’t utilize my character or my items and my weapon typically rested on my hips or back.
Rift has won me with their casting animations. I play a cleric and was excited to realize my primary weapon would be a mace or war hammer; I just love the idea of war hammers as some holy smiting badass. I had severely hoped for some caster shields for my off hand but I was let down and ended up with Tomes… but now I love tomes. I run a Purifier spec which essentially has me lighting people on fire in order to heal them, it’s kind of sadistic but I enjoy it. It took me a few days to really notice the cast animation of my primary healing ability.
Now the majority of my time my Tome is closed, just gingerly held in my off hand. However when I feel the need to light one of my fellow allies a blaze my character looks down at the Tome and flips it open. WOW! Cool he is going to read the spell!? He then begins to wave his primary hand around, which holds a mace in a kind of old school Sorcerers’ Apprentice sort of way. It gets better though. As the spell builds the Tome lights on fire, I’m reading a frigging flaming book of life! As the spell completes I swing the Mace down in some final mocking gesture at the irony of setting my friend’s expensive clothes on fire, close my flaming book, and look up. It’s truly a beautiful sight.
I haven’t seen all of Rift’s casting animations and I doubt they will all move me in this way. However the fact that Trion put that much effort into one spell animation screams a lot about this game. I’ve complained for years that items for a caster are worthless; they are merely stat sticks we never use. Trion incorporates them into the casting animation and I love it.