Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Souls

When many people think of the various callings and souls in this game, they often use the word class to mean either one of them, really. Depends on who you're talking to. While this writing isn't meant to deny that Rift is a class based game, it is definitely meant to highlight the reasons why looking at it as such is robbing yourself of the potential it provides.

As is usual with my writings, they are mine. They are my own thoughts and opinions and ramblings and things, and I put them here as a mix of creative expression and my enjoyment of this game. Take from it whatever you'd like, as there is no demands upon what you should think, or what you should believe.

With that said, you are still reading, so I assume you're interested in what I think.

Thanks for that.

Put simply, Rift offers the potential to build characters the way you do in a skill based game. Now before people go all up in arms about how many choices are available to the player in a proper skill based game... relax. I understand that. At the same time however, if you have no souls at all, you have zero abilities. Meaning you don't actually get anything for being a Warrior, Mage, Cleric, or Rogue... except auto attack.

That sets the stage.

That sets the, "What shall I do today?" when you decide on what kind of character you want to play. For this article I am going to mention my Battle Cleric. People might have seen her mentioned on the forums where I don't really go into detail (I'll do that later on). Of the characters I made in CB1 and CB2, that Battle Cleric makes me so happy.

Anyway, the root of the idea has already been mentioned. Notice, I call her a Battle Cleric. I do not call her anything relating to her souls, because ultimately there is more than one way to make a Battle Cleric in this game. And that's why I like her so much. She is mine. My choices of what souls to put together, is what I believe a Battle Cleric should be like, based on my enjoyment of playing others of the "Battle Cleric" (why don't the usual MMO classes sound that cool?) nature through out my years and years of RPGs.

The second part of the idea was just touched upon. Think of all the RPGs you have ever played. Which character did you enjoy the most? Chances are, you can recreate a play style that is similar in this game. So again, the actual names of the souls themselves aren't quite as relevant as people expect them to be.

To use another example, not every Reaver (Warrior soul) is going to have Bull Rush (Champion ability). In fact, you could meet ten Reavers and have them be different from each other. So the fact that the person is playing a Reaver really doesn't tell you anything. When I tell people my character is a Battle Cleric, they generally have an idea of what she's like, even if I make no mention of what her souls are.

That's essentially the beauty I see in the soul system of this game.

My other character during CB2 was... well, I don't actually have a name as cool as "Battle Cleric" for this one. She's simply just Guerrilla Warfare DPS. But even still... guerrilla warfare is what? It's mobile. It harries. It harasses. That's exactly what she does. How? 14 Champ/6 Riftblade/0 Beastmaster. See why I come up with my own names behind a build? 14/6/0 doesn't really say a whole lot. Sure it will when certain things become common enough, but Guerilla Warfare DPS doesn't require 14Ch/6Rb/0Bm to be what it is. It can be made in other ways.

Besides, I just used three different ways to display a build when all I need to say is Guerrilla Warfare DPS.

So what's your favorite way to play RPGs?

Learn the advantages of each soul, and blend them until you find you've rounded them out to as close to perfect as they're going to get to do what you want.

What's your build called?

That's your character.

Rift might not be everything that a skill based game is, but the class system (32 skills if you wanted to call it that, or 8 if you're specific) still allows you to ultimately shape a character into what you want them to be. Hopefully Trion listens to the feedback of its testers, and allows players to shape the bodies of their characters as well.

While one can say that all of this is merely just blurring the lines of 8 distinct souls and calling it something new, that is exactly the premise behind the system itself. Every calling has a trinity of functions. Warriors can tank, dps, and support. Rogues can tank, dps, and support. Clerics can tank, heal, and dps. Mages can heal, dps, and support/cc. Every calling allows you to do a bunch of things. Warriors, Clerics and Rogues all allow for sustained and bursty melee dps, while also allowing for all kinds of tankage. Even Rogues have some healing in their soul selection (Bard).

There are just far too many options available to continue looking at this as a simple class based game. I genuinely encourage more people to take a skill based approach, and build the character in their head before they build it in the game. From there, use the game to fit what it is you have in your head. Is it close? If not, try a different mix of souls. If so, then congratulations, half the fun is in naming what you've just created. Because then that character is yours. Other people might come across your build in their own makings, through logic, curiosity, mistakes, whatever... they might even play it the same way you do, but if anything, that's a friend waiting to be made. Of all the choices, you two built the same thing.

I imagine over time people aren't going to feel like their characters are any sort of unique or individual. But after years and years of true domination by class based systems, it's nice to be able to approach one that lets you move your elbows around and stretch your feet.

Hey, you can even do a jig.


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