Rift has required me to think a bit differently about the characters I play.
In most games, I pick a class and roll a character. That combination combines in my head as I play and my character ends up developing a personality and backstory of which the class is an integral part. Even in Champions, which doesn’t have a class system, I usually have a build or theme in mind for a character which becomes a part of that character’s identity.
So coming to Rift, I had the same mindset where I identified my Mage character with his initial Soul, which was Stormcaller. This kept me from really getting the Soul/Role system.
What finally clued me in to it was watching a Cleric steamroll a mob camp that I’d been carefully working around the edges of with my Mage. I’m not sure what soul combination the player was using but they were at least using Druid since there was a Fae trailing along healing them. I watched the player run into the center of the camp and gather up five mobs and proceed to melee the whole group while their pet healed them. As a Mage, there was no way I could do that. Or at least not as a Stormcaller. I had been trying to pick off mobs from the edges of the camp so I could clear a path to a named mob I needed for a quest, so of course I was a little upset when this Cleric came charging in, but that turned to jealousy while I watched him clear the camp and survive.
Then the light bulb came on. I could do that to, even if not exactly the same way.
My original role has most of its points in Stormcaller, with a few points in Dominator for better crowd control duration and a few in Elementalist for the basic pet and a convert charge to mana ability. I still had two roles unlocked that I hadn’t done anything with, and it dawned on me that I had tons of other options I could try out to see if I could find a more survivable solo PvE build.
I just had to mentally separate my character from the build I had been using from levels 1 to 40-something.
As I mentioned during my first try at this, I initially put almost all of my points in Elementalist. That build was much more survivable (after I remembered to train up all the new abilities I’d unlocked), but depending so heavily on my pet was not as much fun as slinging lightning.
What I really needed to do was see if I could split my points between Stormcaller and Elementalist enough that I could get the Greater Earth Elemental tanking pet and still keep my beloved Lightning Storm from the Stormcaller soul. Turns out it was much easier to split that way than I expected. I ended up with a new build split 33/22 between Stormcaller and Elementalist (with 3 points in Dominator). I was able to get deep enough into both soul trees to get all of the abilities I wanted, largely because I found I’d put a lot of points into Stormcaller water spells which I don’t use much. Honestly, when I originally leveled, I got to the point where I was just putting points into Stormcaller out of habit and a fuzzy goal of trying to get to the 51 point spell.
This new build is a lot more fun. Now don’t have to drink after or use potions in every fight, I can handle multiple adds, and I’m no longer suffering from Cleric-envy.
The thing I just have to remember is my character is a Mage not a Stormcaller. I’ve got three builds I can setup for different purposes and there’s a four one I can unlock once I have the platinum.
By the way, learning a new build is something else that I’ve had to get used to doing. I put a healing build using Chloromancer and Warlock build together and realized I’d need groups to practice on. I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to take it into a dungeon until I knew better what I was doing. Maybe a guild run would be okay, but jumping into open Rift groups seemed like a better route. There’s a lot more of those around, they’re mostly open groups, and there’s usually a lot going on, especially on the big invasion bosses, so that any screw ups would involve a minimum amount of hassle.