One of the joys of Rift, to at least some players, is its soul system.
While there are four classic archetypes, warrior, cleric, mage, and rogue, each of those can be outfitted with three souls, chosen from a list of eight, to create a character customized to your needs and wishes.
Some rejoiced at this unparalleled freedom of choice.
Others were, perhaps, less enthusiastic.
I personally found it interesting, but I am really no longer one of those players who likes to explore that many choices just to play the game. And our regular Saturday night group has suffered, in part, due to the soul choices we have made. And remade. And made again.
But with Rift patch 1.7, help for our issue showed up in the form of preset souls.
The first aspect of that change was that everybody now gets all of the souls for the class right away. If you hadn’t bought any extras beyond your first three yet, free souls for you! If you bought them all, well, they weren’t that expensive anyway.
So there is no more “what should I buy, I do not want to waste my limited cash at level 5” issue.
And then there are the preset souls. For each archetype there are a few choices.
The rogue has two DPS, one tanking, and one support preset.
The nice thing is that the preset isn’t just a matter of point you at three souls for a specific role like DPS. There is a description of that roles focus, a “how to play” insert, some tips, and a highlight of your key abilities.
I actually learned a couple of things going through the tips, and the call out of abilities is very nice because you seem to get a lot of abilities in Rift. It isn’t quite at the EverQuest II level of “too many damn buttons,” but you fill up your task bars pretty quickly.
I declined to switch over my rogue to one of the presets, as he already has the huntsman’s souls, though I took note of when I ought to use the blood raptor.
For a sample I grabbed one of my alts, a cleric named Nehru, to see what presets that offered and how it worked.
The cleric actually gets one healing, one tanking, and two DPS presets. I went with the healing preset to compare what it offered up against what Hillmar, my healer for the group runs, had chosen up to that point.
One of the first thing I noticed was that in addition to the information you get on the preset screen, Trion doesn’t leave you on your own once you have chosen a preset. When you have soul points to spend, the game tells you where to spend them.
This is actually one of the more important pieces of the puzzle. We have sat immobile as a group for minutes at a time after somebody has leveled and is trying to figure out where to put that new point. (That screen shot is not from the healer preset, in case you were wondering.)
You can break with the plan at any time. You get a warning when you do.
And once you have done that, you are on your own again.
The system appears very much optimized to getting your key “root” abilities as soon as possible. It bounced back and forth between trees, two points at a time, early on. But if you think it is losing focus, you can always see the whole point plan the preset is guiding you towards.
I ran out and did a bit of solo work with this soul, which probably wasn’t the intention of a healing spec, but it did leave me with enough offense to play. And, of course, I was well healed, so to speak.
In the end, I did not move the three characters I play regularly to one of the preset roles. My rogue was already very close to the Huntsman spec as it was, I did not want to give up the beastmaster soul I tacked on to my otherwise reaver focused warrior, and Hillmar the group healer is more focused on healing than the Flame Keeper preset would have him at the same level.
But I still believe that these preset soul choices are a good thing. Giving the casual player a safe choice and some tips seems like the right plan.
A couple members of the group moved to presets last weekend to try them out, including Earl who is our tank. Poor Earl has been changing up his build just about every time we play, but now it sounds like the tanking preset he chose will be more solid than what he was working with previously.
We shall see how this latest change works for the team.