Friday, May 27, 2011

A Classy Follow Up (Also: Rift)

This past Wednesday I wrote a short defense of why I like Classes in tabletop RPG's. I didn't get in to it much, but I will say that as much as I like 'em at the table with thick textbooks, I love 'em even more in my videogames. I was a long-time World of Warcrafter ("Warcrafter" feels like I actually made something and have something to show for my time and money spent), and so I became very familiar with classes within the MMO world.

I recently decided that, since I had a long four day weekend ahead of me, I'd try the free 7-day trial for Rift, a recent WoW-clone that has some very cool lore and a good look about it. It's free, and I'd been itching to dip my toe into another MMO for a while (just to shake the itch), and I already said it was free. Get off my back man. Beside the fact that you start the game in the future of the actual setting before being sent back in time to stop the apocalypse (this was an AMAZING hook to start a game, FYI for you GM's out there), they had me when I heard about the Soul Class system.

You see, Rift has four classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, and Cleric. Classic stuff right? It also sounds a bit limited at first until you realize that each class is completely customizable. I fell in love with this system. Essentially you have three slots of a talent tree for each class. I chose the Rogue as my class and the Eth as my race. Eth are what I always would play ever in any game: a wandering nomadic desert people.

Anyway, I made up my bad-ass rogue and was on my way to discover just how comfortable and familiar Rift was to this old WoW'er. I went quick to check out my talent trees and found them empty. Then I got to choose my first soul. As a rogue I got to choose from Assassin, Bard, Blade Dancer, Marskman, Nightblade, Ranger, Riftstalker, Saboteur, and Infiltrator. Keep in mind, I would eventually end with three of these to flesh out my own unique rogue and fill in my three talent trees.

I was sold, and immediately got to conjure up an image of what I thought would be the coolest hunter I never got to play in WoW. I wanted a ranged fighter that could fall into the shadows and zap around the battlefield at will. He had to be competent in melee as well. It's important to note that I created this idea before picking any of my souls, and I ultimately went with Marksman, Nightblade, and Riftsalker. My rogue, Fenrith, could wail away with his bow, slice through his enemies with  blades of fire, and instantly teleport 15 meters away. This is only by level 5 or 6. Beyond this, my mind started immediately wandering about that heavily-armored knight that could willfully swing back and forth between sword and board and a big two handed spear. Instead I ended up making a Cleric and was taken by how much cooler my melee-healer who could summon a faery (Druid soul) was over other healers I've previously played.

It's addicting, and I don't think anyone can complain about the choices you get to make in the game. I want this in my tabletop experience. It's the perfect mix between freedom and options. I'm not sure how to implement it exactly (talent tables are something that don't really have that much crossover into the tabletop realm), but I would happily play any fantasy game with the well-developed structured choices you get to make in Rift. Oh, and the setting is just awesome. Can't ever argue with a great setting.


1 comment:

  1. I love video games with strange and obscure classes. It is kind of the opposite of my approach to tabletop rpgs, where I want some openness. But these games usually treat these things as professions- or like careers from WHFRP- where passing through that class gives them a stats basis and some benefits, as well as skills or abilities which can either be generally used or slotted in the main game. DragonQuest IX is like that. But I've also picked up any number of SRPGs with great and strange classes systems: Disgaea, Tactics Ogre, Makai Kingdoms, and of course Final Fantasy Tactics. I love all of the bizarre options in those.


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