Choose My Adventure: Warrior time and a more classical Cleric in RIFT


This week, I traded my shepherd’s cane for a big honkin’ sword in RIFT and found that… well, there’s not too much different here, really. Just a matter of looking at a boss at distance or looking at its knees, really.

The reason I feel this way is because, just like my NecroCleric, my forgotten Warrior character was following a pre-determined path as well, which kind of leads me to believe that I must have played this game at some point when it was doing the guided Soul Tree thing. I genuinely can’t recall for the life of me when I’ve done that, though. I guess the mind is the first thing to go as you age.

Or maybe it’s just that RIFT’s combat is kind of routine. As my Defiant swordswinger swung her sword around a bunch of times, I started to recall how playing LOTRO or DDO felt – a sort of weird, stiff jankiness that lacked impact. Still, it was fine. This is fine.

What was a little bit less fine, however, was that the Intrepid Adventure that I was queuing up for was precisely the same as I’d experienced before: several runs through locations at Hammerknell. I assume, really, it’s because I haven’t really gotten out of the 20s quite yet (I’m close, though!), but right now I seem to be locked in this one instance over and over and over again.

After a few runs and a few levels on my warrior, I elected to put her back on the shelf and dig in to making my own Cleric class as instructed by the polls. This, unsurprisingly, was a lot of fun: As people probably learned from my Stick and Rudder post, I really do enjoy theorycrafting, and I had a great time digging into a Soul Tree calculator, reading tooltips, and sniffing out synergies. Which, I admit, doesn’t really sound like a lot of fun on paper, but I live for this stuff.

After some investigation and a desire to make a Cleric that spoke to the “mace and heals and attrition winning” playstyle that I was looking for in my previous RIFT experience, I settled on a build that mostly focuses on the Justicar Soul, feeding it points until I got to a part of the tree where I unlocked a tank stance. I’ve primarily paired it with a Sentinel Soul for some on-demand healing if things get hairy, and kind of tacked on the Oracle Soul as a sort of throwaway third choice and to simply get a boon that ramps up my damage and crit chance when I open up with a ranged single-target skill. There’s probably a better third choice there, but I wanted to get to that boosting attack skill as well as a few points’ worth of Spell Power.

Unfortunately, in order to make this build work, I had to hop into the in-game store and use some of my gems to purchase a one-handed mace and a shield. I’m pretty sure there were better ways to find at least a reasonably simple set of weapons, but my time being a bit too limited sort of forced my hand. And even though I had enough funny money to do it, I really dislike this part of the cash shop.

Still, taking this build into Hammerknell felt pretty good overall, I have to say. When I was able to take point and tank the bosses in the IA, it turned out to be a soak tank, doing a good job of healing through damage and utilizing block for some damage absorption. About the only times I died was when I was fighting against a monster that felt like it had a one-shot mechanic. Or I just wasn’t paying attention to where the fire was. Even so, I think I’ve put together the Cleric of my… well, not my dreams, exactly, but of my desires. I like tanking, basically.

I’m pretty sure this is not a novel build, I contend. I bet there’s even a pre-built build just like it in the list as well. But even so, this build is my build, and for the purposes of this ride, it works.

With all of this said, I have to admit that the well of things to do in RIFT is beginning to run dry, especially since the only IA that gives me the kind of experience I want is Hammerknell. Still, there’s at least one more poll I can get out of this game before I begin considering where to go next. Once again, this is about gameplay focus, but it does provide a couple of different choices here, so I’ll be curious how people feel.

How should I close out this trip through RIFT?

  • Grind the IAs. Just close out with another couple of levels. (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Go into random dungeon queue. See what happens. (48%, 31 Votes)
  • A little bit of both. Why not? (48%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 64

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Like usual, polling closes up at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 16th. Until then, I think it’s time once more for this game to be put on a backburner. For a couple of days anyway. We’ll see.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Just a matter of looking at a boss at distance or looking at its knees, really.

Unless you’re a Tempest! That’s the one thing I loved about Rift so much – your class was less deterministic of what you did rather than how you did it, eventually opening up all roles/sub-roles to all classes (mages got melee and tank specs! clerics got proper support! warriors can heal and do ranged dmg! rogues can…well…they were always able to do everything!). Class more determined the flavor of how you did those things, potentially giving you more options to choose from.

I’m pretty sure this is not a novel build, I contend.

Nowadays I have no clue, but the old -icar builds were VERY popular in chocolate Rift pre-Storm Legion. Inquisicar (most points in Inq. but you dumped a fair number into Justicar as well) did solid damage while providing some decent support healing, Senticars could function as primary healers that did some surprisingly good damage (better than Chloromancers even >.>), plus you had all kinds of other builds since the “baseline” build with Justicar allowed for a lot of effective group friendly specs.

I’m still sad they functionally killed it off as a viable spec with Storm Legion.

On the poll I voted for both BUT…if it’s anything like when I tried coming back waiting in a dungeon queue will take forever. Highly recommend you queue BEFORE entering an IA so you can stay in that LFG system while mindlessly clearing the IA. If you get a dungeon pop you can hop right into it, but it’ll save you from waiting around in the open world or just doing some quests out there.

I’m still sad that Hammerknell was the only raid they brought to IA (that I know of at least). Would have loved to see more raids brought to IA for some variety, because damn does it get soul crushingly boring having spent years doing it -_-

Malcolm Swoboda

By this point we should have had IA Infernal Dawn, at least. And a few others were candidates.

Bruno Brito

Rift and Archeage should be the staple for class-based MMOs going forward, not WoW.

Kickstarter Donor

Eh, disagree. Not every MMO needs that kind of class flexibility. Like, imagine it in an unabashedly oldschool MMO like Pantheon, it simply wouldn’t work. I’m less familiar with AA but remember it being fairly flexible.

Honestly, Rift’s system comes with a lot of downsides. Look at the struggles Trion had balancing hybrid specs until they functionally killed them off entirely. It’s insanely hard to design around, especially if you want to keep some semblance of balance in the longterm.

I love it, but IMO it should definitely not be a “standard”, just a compelling option for games where that kind of character/class flexibility fits with the rest of the design.

Bruno Brito

Every MMO should have that class flexibility.

WoW also killed hybrids. GW2 also has a problem with hybrids. ESO also killed hybrids. MMOs should NOT be focused on balance, instead it should have fun specs. If your MMO has a focus on content that tethers on balancing being the main concern, your MMO has bigger problems.

If we go by that logic, every MMO should be FF14 and not have builds and everyone is the same.


I loved the cleric in Rift, good game back in the days and to an extent still today. Really sad to see the player base decline.

Humble DG

RIFT was such a great game back in its day. It’s too bad that it didn’t endure better. The rogue tanking was one of the coolest classes and types of skills that I ever played.