One of the new features coming in Rift 1.7 is the introduction of preset souls, letting players “jump right in” without having to evaluate all the ins and outs of the soul system when creating their builds. Honestly, I’m a little surprised at all the “good idea” responses to the thread, but I’m sure there will still be a few grognards out there who claim this transforms the intricate and complex soul system into “EZ Mode lolnoobs.” It will, and it won’t.
For those of you who don’t know, I come from the trading-card-game industry, and I’ve often mused that MMORPGS and TCGs have a lot in common. This decision by Trion is almost an exact mimicking of the concept of pre-made decks for Magic: The Gathering and other TCGs. There are thousands of cards in a typical TCG and countless ways to put them all together — and discovering the right way to build a deck is half the fun — but most TCG manufacturers have long abandoned the “random starter deck” concept and offered completely pre-made decks, playable right out of the box.
And here’s the kicker: players love the concept. More importantly, they spend money on it. When I worked at Press Pass Inc. on the Fullmetal Alchemist TCG, I was told by a co-worker who worked on Decipher’s trading-card games (such as Star Trek CCG and Lord of the Rings TCG) that while pre-made decks “offended” us so-called expert players who liked to start from scratch, most players lapped them up, and sales on pre-made decks were much better than sales on non-pre-made starter packages. So yeah, maybe offering that kind of things is a godsend to noobs, but those noobs pay their money just like everyone else, and it’s not hurting any more experienced players, who can rip the pre-mades apart and modify them at their will. (Not to mention how they facilitate sealed-deck play, which is an issue MMOs don’t have to deal with.)
That said, nobody ever brought a pre-made deck to a tournament and won with it, and I’d figure the preset souls in Rift will be no different. They’ll be competent enough, and can probably get you from 1-50 without much difficulty, but once you’ve got some experience under your belt and maybe want to try endgame or high-level PvP, you’ll want to tweak and modify the builds — or throw them out completely and start from scratch. What they’ll do is make it easier for a beginning player not to “gimp” himself too badly with bad soul choices early on. And, let’s face it: Rift has probably the most complex and potentially confusing “build” mechanic in any MMORPG. Anything that can be done to potentially reduce confusion at early levels, and therefore get/keep new players in the game, is a good thing.