Rift – It’s a Soul New World

One of the pains about roaming from MMO to MMO is that every time you come back to an old haunt, you have to remember how to play again.

And that can plague you at several levels.

There is the overall structure of how the game works, the individual conventions that probably do not align completely with the last game you were playing, and simple quirks of user interface that can trip you up.

And then there is actually playing your character.  And what do all those skills do?  And what has changed since I have been in this game last?

What weight each level has can vary from game to game.

In EverQuest the character classes were generally straightforward, with a pretty rational and focused set of skills.  But the UI conventions used to be from another planet compared to the post-WoW world.  That has changed a lot, and fighting the UI when I go back to old Norrath is no longer my biggest struggle, but it is on the top 5.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II seems quite conventional in interface… at least until you get to the oddities hiding below the surface… but the character classes… wow.  The class design objectives had to include the line “Skills. Lots of skills.”

So any return to post cataclysm Norrath includes a good amount of time figuring out what those four hot bars full of skills actually do.  This is usually compounded by my racial traits or AA’s having been reset as well somewhere along the way.

This builds up its own barrier to entry… or re-entry… into a game.  It sometimes feels easier just to start a new character than to figure all of that out.  Of course, then you are at the bottom of the level hill again, which in itself represents a whole new disincentive.

But that is the price of the nomadic MMO player.  If you roam from world to world, you had best plan to stop and figure out what has changed.  You will be the person out of time, the person woken up from a long cryogenic sleep, the Philip J. Fry in the 30th century to which your game has advanced. (Time is figurative, not literal.  Your game may be well beyond the 30th century, stuck back in the 12th, or in some alternate reality altogether.)

Of course people will say that if you just stick to one game for a while, you won’t have to put up with that sort of thing.

To those people, I introduce Rift patch 1.11, which has managed to simulate the whole “having been away” experience for people who haven’t actually been away.

I have played Rift for a year straight now.  I have gone through changes, played with souls, and ended up opting for their soul “pre-sets” that give a decent, workable soul build for a specific role.  We got those back in February.  And in the time since then all my characters have ended up using them.  They simply end up being better than anything I manage to roll on my own.

The last to go was my cleric Hillmar, who plays the healer in our regular group.  He opted for the Flame Keeper pre-set.

Old Cleric Pre-sets

And over the last couple of weeks I have learned the basics of that setup, to the point that I was able to heal pretty well in our man short run at The Fall of Lantern Hook.

And then came the big patch.  The ground work for the Storm Legion expansion was being laid.  And the changes have been so big that the general segment of the patch notes start with the line:

The patch notes for 1.11 are super incredibly long, so some sections have been linked to the appropriate forum thread rather than displayed in the patcher, particularly Calling and Crafting changes.

Oh my.  So there is a whole forum section devoted to the changes to cleric souls.  And it isn’t short.  None of the groups are short.  And the changes are quite dramatic in some ways.

Not that it is all bad.  There are some nice things in the 1.11 patch.  And, good news everybody, there are more pre-set soul types, which will open up new play styles to people who do not want to spend time researching and experimenting with souls and point allocation.  I think the goal was to make one pre-set that focused on each of the possible souls.  Which mean we should be getting another pre-set with Storm Legion, as it is going to have a new soul for each class.

New Cleric Pre-sets

Just on general principles I might have to try out the Steam Punk role.  The name alone intrigues.

But in looking at the two images in this post, which happen to show the old and new version of the Flame Keeper pre-set, you can see that the changes are not trivial.  This was no mere tuning of abilities.  And it has lead me to some confusing moments.

Doesn’t have to be funny if it’s true…

So there will be another relearning hill to climb.  With all four of my characters.  With all of the characters in our regular group.

It will be like we woke up after being in a long cryogenic sleep.

It will be like we have been away from the game for an extended period.

But, I suppose if you have been away from the game for an extended period, it might be as good a time as any to come back.  There is the new expansion coming out, there is a free returning players weekend coming up, and you will be as lost in your class abilities as a lot of people who have been playing for the last year.

Myself included.

Now who ordered this pizza?

16 thoughts on “Rift – It’s a Soul New World

  1. Ahtchu

    +1 for title pun.
    I wonder, as a roamer, do you feel burnout at the same rate? Or does the switching of titles reset the burnout meter? Burnout not from titles but from the genre?
    Kind of a vague question I suppose but I’d be curious to hear the response.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ahtchu – Good questions, and probably worthy of a full blog post… or would be, if I sat down and formulated a coherent answer. I am not sure I could manage that.

    There are all sorts of factors pushing and pulling on me. There is group vs. solo play, nostalgia vs. new things, wide open systems vs. operating within artificial constraints, visible progress at a satisfying rate vs. meaningful progress that requires hard work, simplicity vs. complexity, and so on and so forth, along with the emotional and gut responses to any given game, its art style, its lore, and its user interface, all of which are there to varying degrees, fighting each other, when I start playing any given game and it gets compared to my other options.

    In the end, I love me a swords and magic fantasy MMORPG, and I suspect I will always be playing at least one at any given time. And I know I cannot really play more than two at once. I suspect having some investment in a bunch of games protects me from genre burnout more than it exposes me to it.

    In some ways, it is like any subject. The closer you are to it, the more you see the differences, the nuances, and the more they matter to you and the more they impact you. The further you are from that subject, the more those sorts of things fade into the mist of details and the more things look the same.

    Draw back far enough, and there is no difference between WoW, EQ, GW2, or even DarkFall. My gut says you have to be pretty far back to burn out on the genre as a whole. As much as I joke about games stealing from WoW, or the standard quest hub thing, these games can all feel quite different to me.


  3. Potshot

    My only mistake so far was to take the opportunity to “try a new setup” since it was complete do overs and I chose to do that on a night when I was very tired.

    Tonight it’s back to more conventional setup…


  4. bhagpuss

    I would say that for both myself and Mrs Bhagpuss, seeing a full talent/skill/AA point reset is about the least-welcome patch note we’re used to seeing. I already hate allocated points system to begin with so having to do them over and over just makes my teeth ache.

    I so preferred the original EQ system where you basically made the only meaningful decisions you’d ever need to make at character creation. Then you lived with your mistakes. I actually *like* living with my mistakes, it adds value. And texture. And weight.

    I’m so glad they put the pre-sets into Rift. When we come back in November, which I think is now a certainty, I am going to pick one of those per character and stick with it. I am done with messing around with this stuff!


  5. Vatec

    I was hoping Rift wouldn’t be “that kind of game.” You know, the kind of game that completely revamps all the character classes two years in. So I am profoundly disappointed. Doesn’t help that they basically trashed my main character’s soloing spec’s self-healing capabilities.

    I understand that the developers -believe- that a thorough revamp will revive flagging interest in some players, address the complaints of players who left, and pique the curiosity of players who’ve never tried the game. I simply don’t believe they’re correct. In practice, these sorts of revamps just alienate a lot of current happy customers with very limited payoff to offset the loss.

    I’ll put it another way: I abandoned all plans of picking up the expansion when I read the first descriptions of the massive revamp the current souls were going to undergo. I’m going to spend the time between now and Storm Legion trying to find a viable Rogue soloing spec that has doesn’t revolve around Ranger (I loathe pet management), Bard (really, playing a lute while someone’s trying to hit you with a sword?), or Saboteur (really, your enemies don’t notice when you throw half a pound of adhesive plastic explosives at them?). If I can’t find a viable spec based on some combination of Riftstalker, Nightblade, Marksman, Bladedancer, and Assassin, I’m done.

    Call me shallow, but I truly loathe when I find a playstyle I enjoy (Bear Shaman in AoC, BD/RS/Sin in Rift) and the developers decide to take that playstyle away in order to “freshen things up.” If I wanted major change, I’d go to another game. All I want out of a game I’m actually playing and enjoying is MORE CONTENT. Really.


  6. seanas

    Even a regular, 30 hour-per-week-3-rank-50-alts player like myself got lost with 1.11. I logged in on Thursday (EU servers) to find I had 22 different specs to completely rebuild… managed *one* on the first night, made 4 more yesterday, got another 3 ready to make today, will wait on the rest until Storm Legion hits, I think.

    Expansions *always* stress me out, as a player – I’ve counted back and discovered that every single MMO I’ve ever stopped playing after playing regularly, I’ve left because of an expansion. Storm Legion will avoid that, I’m pretty sure – but still, the total revision of the classes of 1.11, and the further revisions that new souls will bring in SL means *lots* of work (rebuilding, et al) rather than play for me in Rift for the next month or so.

    @Vatec: yes, the BD/RS/Sin is dead. That’s been the hardest spec to replace for me. A temporary BD/RS/Bard will work for now; but really, all Rogue World PvE specs (and several raiding and PvP specs) are waiting on Tactician, which will fill all sorts of roles. The Bard has been buffed to actually do some damage now, but it’s still a filler until the Tactician is available. I’ll post a link to my BD/RS/Sin build, if you need it (or go visit Dunsparrow, who will have an undoubtedly better World PvE build up soon).

    @Bhagpuss and Wilhelm: the presets are, now, good! Fun fact, which maybe we all know: we have the presets due to testing of Rift in Korea – prior to the creation of presets, 0 (as in 0%) of Korean playtesters of Rift made it out of the tutorial, because of a lack of information about builds :)


  7. Nixeor

    Never played Rift, but I was not impressed. The world looked too “Final Fantasy” and the premise was too “Elder’s Scrolls: Oblivion” I want a world that is a more new to the eyes.

    My interest currently lie in Bioshock Infinite or The Origins of Malu. Both are unreleased, but both look different in all aspects of visual gameplay. I just wish they would start posting more on gameplay.


  8. Vatec

    Came up with RS 44/Sin 12/BD 8. Planar Splash and Planar Rejuvenation are pretty much mandatory now. Had to lose the permastealth and a lot of Assassin passive damage buffs. I’ll need to test it a bit before I give it any sort of seal of approval, though….


  9. flosch

    Very well put. Rift 1.11 actually manages to revamp classes so much that you feel like you’ve been away for a year.

    Sadly, one of my favorite specs, the chloromancer, gut huge changes. And I don’t like them. One of the defining traits of the chloromancer (heal by doing damage) was basically taken away. It’s only still there from a very technical point of view, in that your heals are triggered by doing damage, but the two things aren’t very related any more. I had hoped for a less void-life-spam kind of spec, but what I currently see doesn’t look like a great solution.

    I’m really happy I didn’t pick up the one-year deal. Can’t say I’ll completely stop playing again, but I might sit out for a bit. Hope that some things will get another makeover, and I’ll be happier with that.

    When it comes to the point of how game changes influence burnout, Klepsacovic just had a laterally related topic: http://trollshaman.blogspot.de/2012/10/expansions-and-burnout.html
    My opinion was: game changes seem to increase my burnout rate when I play games irregularly.


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  11. SynCaine

    I’m amused that so many people would complain about complex character builds, when ‘back in the day’ all anyone wanted was deep character customization. Careful what you ask for and all that.


  12. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @TheReaper – I was surprised I had to wait so long for that answer.

    @SynCaine – Well, I don’t think it is so much complaints about complex builds as it is a complaint that people figured out their favorite build and now the carpet has been yanked out from underneath them. There were literally major changes to all of the souls in the game. It was one of those things a company better not do more than once in a very long while.


  13. collen

    just tryed the beta .. it felt verry empty , it was not entertainign to me at all , it felt like playign vanguard 4 years after it had been forgotten

    the habinger was ok , and what i was looking forward to palying , and it was ok , but just ok . out of my 3 50s with 4 specs each , harbinger was not = to the fun of any of them <prechanges< post changes its probably the most fun of the bunch , but thats not sayign much . i had hoped the expansion would bring me back from gw2 but the way they went about it it wont .

    i mainly pvp , but that was a totaly diffrent game and feel befor the changes to after,the over all exprence was slow and unintresting.

    very disapointed in the changes and the expansion.


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