Rift Calling System vs. Traditional Classes: Alt-oholic Dream? Or Nightmare?

Rift has rather thrown a 75mph curveball (fast, but average = not really earth-shattering*) with its introduction of a four-“calling,” nine-soul system.  Players can pick one of four “callings” for their character: Warrior, Mage, Cleric and Rogue.  Sure, that sounds familiar.  And limiting, right?

Wrong!  Players can eventually (usually by level 15 or however early you can haul your rump to  Meridian/Sanctum to unlock all nine souls through completing quests that reward the soul.  Then all is needed is a trip to your friendly calling trainer to reset your souls (to pick different ones out of the nine) or purchase a second (or third or fourth) role to fill with a different set/configuration of souls.

This is where my altoholism lapses and I end up broke, confused, and /following my husband’s character all over Telara because I’m
staring at soul trees. >.>

The Good

Being able to have such flexibility with the class system is truly a boon for players like me.  I want to try it all – every soul, ability, and combination thereof and this calling system provides the flexibility to explore different options.  I’ve also never been a one-toon-only kind of girl (hence my seven level 80s in Wrath of the Lich King).  There are already tons of guides out there on the internets that will tell you which is the best warrior/cleric/rogue/mage soul build for x,y, and z in Rift.  But you don’t have to follow a guide!  You can
pick and choose which souls you want to use.

When I played WoW, I had several characters: shaman, druid, priest, hunter, paladin, warrior, death knight … One of every class.  I loved playing each of my characters, but having so many characters got out of hand pretty quickly (I had 7, almost 8, level 80 toons just before I cancelled my subscription!).

So in Rift, I am really enjoying being able to play multiple roles with just one character.  Players can purchase up to four roles (possibly fiveSee under “other observations” at the bottom) from their calling trainer and then specify three souls in each role.  The combination of souls is up to the player.  If you want four roles of Warden/Sentinel/Purifier on your cleric, you can absolutely do that.  If you want two healer roles, one caster DPS and one melee DPS, you can do that, too (how FRIGGIN awesome…omg I love my cleric).

Other cool bits to know:

  • If you gain a pet and rename it, your pet will retain that name even if you reset your souls (and don’t include the druid/ranger/elementalist/beastmaster soul in the new role).
  • Macros (see below) can make switching roles and equipment sets at the same time for increased efficiency.
  • You can select an option in Interface > Action Bars to wipe the action bars when resetting souls.  This will provide a blank canvas to build your hotkeys.
  • If you have more than one role, the game will remember where you had abilities on the action bars.
  • If you switch roles, your mana/energy/power bars will not deplete.  This saves time when switching on the fly.

The Bad

THERE’S SO MANY OPTIONS. Okay, I feel better.  That’s not actually a bad thing, but for me (and indirectly, my husband, bless his heart) I tend to get overwhelmed quickly because there are so many options. And it’s not that I can’t make a decision, it’s more that I see another player doing something awesome and I want to try it.  Everything is so new right now that there is always something cool I  haven’t seen/tried yet.  I need to take a clue from Cheri O’Teri on SNL and “simma down now.”

I initially didn’t exactly like the overwhelming nature of Rift’s soul system.  Part of that overwhelming feeling was due to my experience with Cataclysm and the revamped talent trees.  Even though I’ve had time to explore the soul system and how roles interact with it, I do still feel a bit overwhelmed when trying a new soul.  Maybe with time this will subside.  /shrug

I also dislike that the price of roles scale exponentially between the second and third roles (30g to 3 platinum!).  I wish Trion would make the third and fourth roles a bit more affordable.

Some stuff to know:

  • If you create a role with a soul you’ve never used, you will need to talk to the calling trainer and spend a good chunk of
    money on learning all of the abilities that come with the soul (depending on how many points have been spent in that soul).
  • You will need to rebuff yourself when switching roles as player-cast buffs (cast by you or other players) will be removed.
  • You cannot switch roles during combat or when you’re moving.

The Ugly

I only have one thing to say here and it may be a premature concern.

I’m concerned that focus may shift from freely choosing soul builds that meet a player’s own needs to a more specific allocation of soul  points deemed “viable” for certain situations (raids, warfronts, etc). Without getting too preachy or sidetracked, I just want to say that I really hope the motivation to be innovative stays alive within the Rift community moving forward.

Note About Roles and Efficiency (Because I am all about efficiency!)

You can make a nifty little macro to make switching roles and equipment much more efficient.

Equip/Role Switch macro

The Macros panel. Click a blank on the left to start a new macro.

  1. Equip all the gear you want to be included in a set
  2. Type /saveequip 1
  3. Open up the Macros panel (/macro) and left-click a blank macro slot in the left side. Pick an icon and give it a name in the
    right side (I usually name it after the main soul of the spec, e.g., Druid)
  4. Type the following into the macro body area & Save the macro:

Loadequip 1
Role 1

Keep in mind that the first role you have is Role 1, second is Role 2, etc regardless if you give the role a specific name!  For example, my three roles on my cleric are named “Purifier,” “Justicar,” and “Druid” because those souls are the focus of the build in that role.  (You can name the role anything you want, also).  My “Purifier” role will always be known as Role 1 to the game, however.

At this point, I drag the macro’s icon to my action bar so I now have a button to press instead of opening the soul tree panel and click activate.  This little macro makes spec-switching achievable on the fly.

Macros for switching saved equipment sets and roles on my action bars.


Ending Thoughts

I hope you’re enjoying your soul-searching in Rift as much as I am!  Although the soul system may seem daunting, it really becomes intuitive.  I enjoy the flexibility and freedom to choose abilities for my characters.  What do you think?



*I use baseball metaphors sometimes, but really, I’m a noob when it comes to full-on stats. Watch out.

**I have a general feeling about the current state of the World of Warcraft and it led to my decision of cancelling my subscription and playing Rift instead.  I may or may not post about it because I don’t like causing a ruckus and I don’t think it’d be very productive (since I don’t play the game anymore).


4 thoughts on “Rift Calling System vs. Traditional Classes: Alt-oholic Dream? Or Nightmare?

  1. I honestly agree with you. The play style is a lot more entertaining not having to make new characters rather being able to customize my current character. I haven’t played my wow toons in months and should just cancel as many of my guilds and friends have moved to rift anyway.

  2. The motivation is to be innovative sure is around, but at the same time, it’s two edged sword. Once someone identifies a certain point distribution that works great, it’s posted on the forums, following which the community theorycraft and tweaks it around a little, and a week later, the most optimized build comes out and every specs accordingly…

    ..until the next patch comes around. Then, rinse and repeat.

    It’s wonderful having such an active community constantly trying out new stuff, but soon enough, everyone ends up with cookie cutter builds. It bothers me, but I honestly can’t think of a way to stop this from happening.

    • I agree that it’s inevitable. I also think, to a certain extent, that it’s not all bad. There’s so much variety and many roles to fill within Rift that I hope people continue to innovate broadly (not just within their own niche Rift communities).

      Thanks for commenting! :D

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