Rift souls for WoW brains

I had this long wall of text ready to publish yesterday, on how much I look forward to play future MMOs without the holy trinity – and then blogger ate my post and I couldn’t find any way to recover it – of course. *sigh* That convinced me I should rather be playing Rift than write silly posts, y’know basically a sign from above, and now I’m not even sure whether I have the heart to rewrite it all. I hate it when that happens, where’s the time machine when you really need it?

Anyway, there I was trying to break down Rift’s class system in a comprehensible way  to one of my mates the other night, feeling ready to jump off the next cliff after approximately 10 minutes. Yeah I get it, the class system is a little more complex than in World of Warcraft – that’s why it’s fun. But it’s really not all that hard to understand, a trained monkey could grasp the concept pretty soon. To which my mate then replied: “what about Warcraft players?”.


Before you reach the inevitable conclusion that said comment was actually offensive, it was made by somebody who’s played WoW himself for a long time – and arguing with such deprecating self-irony is kinda hard. I have also been told that I am made of pure evil for successfully luring people into giving Rift a go, making one of them buy an new shiny PC just to be able to run it properly, so apparently I don’t get to argue. Riiight, don’t blame me now, MMO players are all the same desperate bunch, muah muah!

I get where this is coming from though: when you jump into Rift, there’s all that talk of callings, souls, roles, subclasses, planar charges and ye olde Warcraft player that you are, you’ve simply forgotten all about how it feels to start a brand new game and that initial confusion is part of the experience (and fun).

That’s okay! /pat

There are currently a few Rift resources in the making, but nobody likes to go and search half-baked databases when starting off with a new game. Also: Wiki articles are often cryptic and have the potential to scare you off rather than to help – now that would be a real shame. So, what is it with this class-soul-role mumbo-jumbo in Rift? Here’s my breakdown in 3 easy steps.

Rift – Callings, Souls and Roles

  • 1. Callings (Azerothian: classes)

There are 4 main callings or class archetypes in Rift: Warriors, Rogues, Mages and Clerics. This is the initial choice you will make when creating your character and cannot be reversed at any point in the game. Each of these archetypes offers 8 sub-classes or talent trees which are called souls in Rift.

  • 2. Souls (Azerothian: talent trees)

Your very first quest at level 1 will let you gather your first out of 8 souls. Don’t worry about that choice too much because already at level 13 you will be able to get them all and switch around.

Your character can equip 3 souls at any given time. That means your talent chart looks very similar to WoW where each class has 3 trees to fill points in. The main difference is that you have 8 trees available in Rift and it’s your choice which ones to play with and when. The game wants classes to have access to a lot of variety in playstyles and encourages you to experiment and respec often.

So, if you roll cleric in Rift for example, you can play any combination of 8 souls: you can be Druid/Cabalist/Warden or an Inquisitor/Justicar/Sentinel – just to name two options. It’s up to you what “trinity” to set for. That makes for a stunning 56 unique build combinations available (more including PVP souls) per class. And then it’s still up to you how you spread your talent points within those combinations. Ideally, you still want to focus on one main tree at least, in order to get access to the powerful endtalents.

  • 3. Roles (Azerothian: specs)

At some point you will tire of respeccing in order to switch or re-build your specs; you will want to have different talent and soul combinations ready to play, depending on whether you play solo, in a 5man or PVP. Every Rift class has variety of functions available, from tanking, to dps, support and healing. This is where roles come into play: a role is Rift’s equivalent to WoW’s dualspec, it let’s you save more than one talent spec at a time and switch between them easily, anytime and anywhere. Your first extra role will cost you 30 gold which roughly equals 30 WoW silver – so it’s very cheap.

You can both respec and purchase extra roles at your class trainer. Note that while you’re leveling up, you must buy your new skill ranks individually for each spec and can only do this while the role is active (so it’s a good idea to switch while you’re at the trainer).
Furthermore, you do not only have two roles available in Rift, but can get up to a total of 4 saved talent builds which you can re-name individually to keep track. This is another testimony to Rift’s class versatility and flexibility. Knock yourself out!

Useful resources (Azerothian: wowhead & co.)

That’s pretty much it! Not so hard now, is it? If you’re still looking for more info on something, have a look at the following, more and less useful Rift resources and Wikis. Keep in mind that the game has only just launched while browsing.

You might want to visit:

If anyone is using different pages or has other tips in general, I’m happy to hear about them. I have not actually had the time yet to look into any Rift forums and I don’t even know whether there are official realm and class forums or not. Exciting times! ^^


  1. I’m purposefully leaving out looking at any sites or that crap. Some could argue that it actually helped to ruin WoW as the developers relied up on endless people to do their legwork for them in terms of balancing. Not to mention the fact that you were pretty much expected to go to outside resources to tell you how to play the damn game, rather then figure it all out INSIDE the game.

    So, i’m steering clear of all that for the time being. One thing you did omit, when you come to upgrade your skills at the trainer through various points on your travels, you have to activate each role to upgrade those particular talents. A minor inconvenience really.

    Having 4 different roles is a great idea and means you can run with a variety of options. Take the Rogue class for example. You can have a pure melee dps build, a pure ranged dps build, a pure tanking/support build AND a pure pvp build all at once. Awesome idea.

    Now, it does make balancing horrendous, which i don’t think Trion will mind too much tbh. Some combinations of souls and points designated to them will have imba consequences in PvE and (especially) PvP. But, there are more than enough combinations for your own calling to counter these. Already people are crying over Saboteurs and their burst damage in PvP – and I can tell you from first hand experience, it is sick. However, rogues tend to fall over very quickly. Many combinations of souls have pros and cons. Pure dps and burst souls make you godlike at if no one bothers you, but you have NO survivability. Go for burst and survival souls and your damage can be healed through or ignored as you will get overpowered.


    The best thing is there are no fucknig damange meters \o/ So, at the moment, there’s none of the elitest “oh, you want to be blahblahbalh” to get the best dps” or “Clerics ranged dps?? teh lol – u suck”

    One of the bad things to come out of WoW was the removal of the ability for the majority of the gaming community to think for themselves and feel their own way through the game. Why go through hours of testing when you can read it on a website in 10 minutes after all?

    I just like the fact that it’s all new, it’s untested and you’ve got to figure it all out yourself. That is part of the journey in an MMO i think, and part of the reason many WoW veterans are bored to the point of leaving.

  2. Oh I agree totally – am not looking to spoil myself on anything concerning content really or leveling up. being a noob again is the major fun for me right now.

    From the few looks I’ve had through these pages, the info isn’t even there yet, it’s all in the making.
    it can be handy though if you’re really stuck or like I said in the article, so confused you’re almost ready to give up. 😀

  3. The hardest part (and something Trion may address later) is remembering to go back to the trainer after you’ve changed roles to update all your skills, as you can only train those of your active role!

    I found that initially the 8 souls was a big “oh my god what do I do how can I ever get synergy out of these” but you just have to go in there and be prepared to respec a couple of times until you find something that works for you. I’ve noticed that I don’t take talents that people on the Rift Junkies or the official Rift forums say is a “must-have” simply because I don’t find myself using it that often, and that’s OK, because I’m improving some other tree’s main spell.

    I think what your average/casual Warcraft player will find is that they feel really locked into a tree for a while until they realise they can change and gold isn’t that hard to come by. I hope the developer sticks to their guns on this one because this system is fantastic and the only issues I have are technical ones to do with the UI.

  4. @Phee

    I agree. I hope Rift won’t go the same direction as WoW with fotm-specs and cookie cutters each class will go for. but I doubt that already because there are only 4 archetypes and that means ideally there’s more than 1 needed spec per group. I don’t know about Rift raiding, but it would seem odd to not go in with a variety of class/spec-combinations – there’s big differences between a pyro-mage or chloromancer and a bard or rogue for example.

    The re-skilling thing is a good point and I’ve added that as a note now, cheers!
    to me it makes sense though that you would have to learn spells and upgrade ranks for each role individually, given some of them will be new. as long as you don’t lose everything as soon as you switch roles – now that would be really annoying. 🙂

  5. I am enjoying the versatility at the moment but it is a little much. There are way to many skills at the moment and I know I barely use a third of them. I could imagine it will be a smaller percentage later.

    While I am liking Rift we all know it will boil down to FOTM specs soon enough as people get more experience and it is decided what is best. That is inevitable really.

    Your guide is a nice little start up to help people first coming over to it from wow. I’ll have to send a few friends over that have shown interest in the game. The way you explain it makes it seem a bit less daunting.

  6. @Grumpy Elf

    Thanks – that was the point! 🙂

    There’s a lot more to say if one wants to go in-depth, but I don’t think that’s the way to go for a first overview article like this one. truly just aiming to ease people over who are intimidated by the new names and choices because there’s no reason not to try, anyone can do it!
    I also haven’t played it nearly long enough to write full guides (well, nobody has). 😉

    About the cc-specs; am not sure. I’ve never seen an MMO before WoW that pushed this so much, it’s really up to the game’s design to enforce that or not. if Rift is more lenient raidwise for example and more focused on let’s say the MM- or social coop aspects, then there should be a lot more variety and freedom of specs.
    I am still trying to understand what happened in warcraft to make specs such a pressure – I can’t say I’ve found the solution.

  7. @TheGrumpyElf – i know what you’re saying about the skills, however it all comes down to exposure and experience. We’re not used to this many talents – and to be fair, it all depends on your goals for you build which would determine whether or not you would use 100%, 75%, 50% or just 25% of the skills you get. The talent trees definitely take more forward planning than WoW or AoC or Aion. If you want to spread your points over 2 or 3 souls, you will get a load of redundant talents (but that’s to be expected) You don’t have to have them on your bars after all.

    Having said that, playing just 20 levels does give you an idea about how a class progresses and what to look for when you start a new character. I started a warrior yesterday for a bit of something different, and i spent a good 15 minutes looking over all the souls after the first quest to see what starting abilities worked best with each other.

    This is part of the keys to the game. Some souls will be very good out of the box, others require synergy with others. Simply looking at the offensive Warriors souls give you a brief insight to this. The Champion souls is very good on it’s own. Good starting combo makers and finishers. The Paragon/Riftblade ones however, are weaker until you invest 10 or so points into them. Until then you have to mix and match.

    Now this is my impressions from early game. You will also have the conundrum of Investing 31 to 51 points in 1 soul for end abilities or whether to spread your points out more evenly across your ‘trinity’. This will be down to play style, and most certainly, will start to be data mined for cookie cutter builds by the min/maxers.

    As GrumpyElf says – it is inevitable, but i’m going to enjoy the unknown for as long as i can!

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