Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Difference A Respec?

I've spent the Rift open beta weekend finally doing some testing to see what I'd like to roll up when the retail servers arrive.  The exercise has left me simultaneously impressed and concerned about the variety of the soul system.

Right Souls, Wrong Time
I was curious to try then caster clerics, and a post by Ravious at Kill Ten Rats suggested that I pick up Inquisitor, Cabalist, and a misc healing soul. 

So there I was, at level 4, with 3 points in Inq and 2 points in Cab.  My spell list consisted of a nuke, an AOE nuke, two dots, and a channeled spell that is nigh useless solo because you lose volleys whenever you get hit.  I could manage one mob, but aggroing a second mob pretty much meant my immediate demise. 

Then I hit level 5 (gaining a point), picked up the Sentinel soul, and went to the trainer to respec.  When the dust settled, I had four points in Sentinel and 2 points in Inq.  The character lost the channeled spell, but picked up another nuke with a 30% snare, an instant heal, an instant damage attack, and an endurance buff. Suddenly, a single mob was easy, and even a second mob started to become manageable by applying dots and healing.  It was like getting an entirely new character in a single level up. 

Know your roles?
The soul system does look like it's going to be a lot of fun to play with; no matter how badly you bungle your character initially, there's probably going to be some combination that's actually usable.  Every single level potentially opens a previously impossible combination of abilities, especially as players get a larger pool of souls to choose from. 

That said, first impressions in this system can be challenging, and the learning curve is a potential issue.  Based on my first attempt ("I'd like to be a caster priest, so I should take both caster priest souls"), I would have concluded that caster priests just aren't very good.  If I'd started with the other build, I might have reached the conclusion that the game is "too easy".  Throw in some of the inevitable balance issues (I think my Riftblade warrior did better ranged DPS than a mage I tried) and it could be a long time before things settle down in Telara.

P.S. One of the more intriguing concepts is the Void Knight - a warrior tanking soul that specializes in destroying anything with a mana bar at the expense of not being able to use most of its abilities if there are no casters around to smite.  This just wouldn't be a viable class in a normal game, but Rift opens up its dual spec option early enough to have highly specialized souls. Again, time will tell whether having this degree of specialization causes problems for PVE (and/or PVP) balance.


  1. The soul system is really designed for allowing any group makeup to work. Toss on Paladin soul when tanking a single target, Reaver when facing a group, or Void Knight when taking on caster. In PvP, a Reaver can devastate melee enemies, while a Void Knight crushes casters. It's really cool to have one character that can do so much. Heck, Rogues and Clerics can DPS, Tank, or Heal, they can do it all.

  2. I went into a dungeon today as a DPS mage (pyromancer spec), but the cleric who was healing wasn't quite up to the task, so after a wipe I swapped over to be a chloromancer instead. The rest of the dungeon was a breeze with 2 healers. TBH, I could have probably been sole healer and the cleric could have swapped to a dps build, but. . .whatever. We eone, the mobs died, got nice gear from the dungeon.. fun all around!

  3. If you really want to try a good caster healer, go Warden/Sentinel and possibly pick up Purifier.

    I rolled one to like level 8 the other day and this is what I had.

    Instant spammable bolt.
    Instant knockback
    Instant HoT
    2s DoT

    2s Bolt with snare (snare via soultree)
    Instant Heal
    Instant DD

    I know mana becomes more of an issue later on (I have a 20 necro as well) but at that level, I was easily able to handle 3 mobs on me at one time. Also from what I've read, the Warden/Sentinel combo is one of the hardest to kill in both PvE and PvP.


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