Last night it became clear to me what the Soul system represents: customization. Some disciplines of healing are ranged, some are up close and personal. Some are are single target concentration; some disciplines favor Heal over Time (HoT) spells; some area-of-effect healing. I’ve known this: druids, paladins, and priests in WoW; archmages and warrior priests in Warhammer Online. RIFT lets me take aspects of each of these disciplines and fit them together. How well each assorted bit fits with another is an enticing mystery. Also, I find myself – for the first time in an MMO – confronted with spells that are not only redundant, but are functional copies of one another. The introductory spells from each subclass have some overlap. For instance, the direct damage spells at first level for either the Purifier or the Sentinel seem identical on damage. However, one looks cooler than the other, so I use it. It’s something small that I’ve clamored for and hoped for. If two classes can accomplish the same thing – even technically the same way – but they look different doing it, you do not have a needless class. You have variety. Point for Trion.
My fledgling cleric, pictured in the sidebar, is a Sentinel/Warden/Purifier. I have most of my points in Sentinel – I climbed that ladder quick to get to resurrect – and half again as many in Warden so I have some HoTs. Purifier has no points in it. I’m not really clear on how many of these points I’ll get or what I’ll be losing not investing in a different order…but its early enough that I’m indifferent.
People hate on RIFT for the things it shares in common with World of Warcraft. I’ve seen posts on all sides of this battle…pro-RIFT, pro-WoW, pro-hating, pro-indifference. You know what’s funny about all of this? When Halo came out, nobody got on it’s case for copying Unreal, or Quake, or Duke Nukem 3D, or Doom…or Rise of the Triad. It was a first person shooter; it’s a member of a genre, genre members share many things in common, and that’s okay. When a couple of FPSs started this trend of bringing your gun to your cheek to fire instead of firing from the hip, nobody complained when other games picked it up. They may have not been the first, but now people want it in other games…because it works for the genre. It’s appropriate and handy. We should view aspects of MMOs the same way. RIFT has taken things that work from other MMOs, and it seems to have done this well.
Getting into RIFT, I enjoyed character creation (I like being able to modify my character’s facial characteristics) and selecting Souls, initially wanting a Warrior Priest + WoW-druid type healer: I thought Sentinel and Warden would get me there. I’m not sure that they will now, but I do like the healer I’ve discovered in my muddling. The rift events and the invasion events can get tense, but I like them. I’m level 12 or so and near-completely lost in the game-world, my only direction to gain more points and see how my healer can shape up. Whether it’s different enough from other games to keep me remains to be seen, but I had a good time with it for my first session. I must have, as I lost track of time and had to willfully pry myself away to do other things.
Yeah, it’s pretty good. I’ll say that. Oh, and you know what else?
When my cleric casts spells, SHE. USES. HER. STAFF. AS. A. PROP. She swings it around! She points it at foes! Lights and sparkles shoot out of it! It’s not just strapped to her back like an awkward and stupid-looking decoration. I have ALWAYS hated that about World of Warcraft. I admired it in Warhammer. This game took it even further; the staff is a prop when my cleric runs, stands still, casts, fights; or her massive 2H mace, depending on what I found that looks cooler and has better stats.