RIFT’s preset soul build addition, also known as Calling Purposes, is fresh out on the PTS and available for player testing. Information about this feature and other additions Trion has in store for new players and old players alike can be found here. The preset build feature promises to be a helpful aid for new players leveling in RIFT, and also a handy, optional way for veterans to experiment with new builds, classes, and class roles. Let’s dive into some of the specifics about this cool feature, focusing on the Cleric class.
New players will probably gain the most benefits from this system. The benefits are seen as early as the character creation screen. When creating a new character, players will be prompted to choose their faction, then gender and race. Added to the race selection screen is now a handy set of buttons that allows players to preview the character in various sets of obtainable gear.
There are three selections: low level, mid level, and high level. After choosing a race, they’re able to preview the different gear selections based on class. This basically prepares Clerics for the fact that they’ll be wearing chain robes throughout much of their leveling and endgame experience, and that eventually, the robes look pretty cool and lose that silly single-shoulder option.
After choosing Cleric, players are able to choose one of four possible calling purposes, or preset builds. “What is your purpose?” this creation screen asks. These builds are entirely optional, but for new players, they’re a great starting place for getting a feel for how the different specs play. Shown above is a screenshot of the different purposes, their names, and the character preview screen.
One cool thing about this screen is the fact that it lets players know how flexible the Cleric class is. While clicking on the different callings, the character previews combat animations with applicable weapon types. This lets the player preview combat animations, and also shows them the type of weaponry they will generally want to obtain during the leveling process. While four builds is a limited number of Cleric builds, a bit of everything is represented: healing, tanking, straight DPS, ranged DPS, melee DPS, and hybrid healing DPS.
The feature also streamlines the early leveling process. Instead of having to obtain each soul through questing, players are able to start off with three empty soul trees. This enables 0 talent point abilities, and while that sounds fairly minor, for Clerics, it’s a rather significant bonus. Choosing Thunderer, for example, which is the Shaman/Justicar/Inquisitor spec, gives players Crushing Blow and Vex, granting players a ranged pull at level 1.
One of the complaints many new RIFT players have is how difficult it is to know which classes to grab when the information given in-game is a very limited (and severely outdated). This gets rid of that confusion altogether, and gives players the ability to grab a spec right away and see if they enjoy it. As the player levels, the system will also suggest a particular advancement route.
The Four Cleric Builds
Readers who have enjoyed the Cleric class for a while probably have some questions in mind. “Which specs did Trion pick? How could they possibly choose just four?” I wondered the same thing. Here are the four specs, each with a screenshot of the information window, a link to the spec in Zam, and my personal comments:
Description: A pragmatic Cleric who can heal and prevent damage by combining Fire and Life.
Group Role: Healer
Souls: 34 Purifier, 32 Sentinel, 0 Warden
Comments: This spec performs well healing group content while leveling, and is solid for expert dungeons and a large portion of endgame healing as well. It gives beginning healers a lot of tools to play with. I wish a second healing spec was represented along with it.
Description: A defensive Cleric who can survive vicious assaults and keep the attention of monsters, all while supporting their group with minor healing.
Group Role: Tank
Souls: 51 Justicar, 3 Shaman, 12 Inquisitor
Comments: I think this tanking spec is good, but could be better. Initially, I wondered why there weren’t more points in Shaman, but then I realized that with 1.7, Shaman will have reduced value to tanks because of the change to Favored of the Valnir, which will be becoming a DPS talent. Inquisitor grants the Justicar some fun utility talents, but I think the last 2 points in Inquisitor could be better placed.
Description: A versatile Cleric who uses the might of a storm to deal solid damage in melee while converting that damage into healing.
Group Role: Damage (with a fair side of support healing)
Souls: 44 Shaman, 2 Inquisitor, 20 Justicar
Comments: This spec isn’t bad. I personally prefer the 51-point Shaman/Justicar/Inquisitor build, but this variant offers a bit more utility that many players may prefer. I also prefer more points in Inquisitor. I wish the Inquisicar version was offered as well, however, because the two specs play entirely different. Note: Remember that 1.7 is making Favored of the Valnir a DPS talent and that Ekkehard’s Invocation is replacing Vengeance of the Frozen Earth.
Description: An aggressive Cleric who punishes their enemies from range by combining powers of Life and Death.
Group Role: Damage
Souls: 51 Inquisitor, 10 Sentinel, 5 Warden
Comments: This spec is fairly standard, and a good choice for a suggested straight DPS spec. I do wish there was another suggested, however, either Shaman, Druid, or Cabalist.
I assume Trion may add more suggested callings in the future, which would be nice to see, especially for Clerics. There’s more than one viable healing build and straight DPS build, and it would be nice to see more than one option in both categories. The good news? The bases are covered, and new players will at least be aware of all four Cleric roles. It would also be incredibly easy for Trion to add new builds, and even possibly ask players to submit their own ideas for other builds. That might be a fun way to get the community involved in this project.
As far as ease of use goes, the entire feature is easy to pick up on, and should be a welcome addition to a new player’s arsenal. The tips are pretty useful, as well. Hopefully the system will encourage new players to stick around and experiment with all of the versatility Clerics enjoy. For veterans, it’s easy enough to toggle between the suggested callings and other specs players may have. More good news? We’ll be getting a sixth soul spot. Clerics rejoice!