One of my earliest MMO memories is the day I got my City of Heroes box and spent hours before logging into the game pouring through the manual (yes, I think there was a time when I actually read manuals). It was nearly impossible — but in a good way! — to figure out what superhero I wanted to make, because I not only had to choose an archetype and powerset, but a second powerset to meld with the first. Any game that gives me a good degree of freedom in creating and building my character outside of narrow limits and an over-reliance on gear is one that has my patronage more often than not.
This is why I’m pretty fascinated with Rift’s mix-and-match class system, aka “Ascended” or “Souls” system. Basically, you’ll choose one of four basic callings (fighter, healer, rogue, mage) and then start to accumulate souls of other people who died long ago. Once you have a soul, you can invest points (which you accumulate per level) into the tree to unlock bonuses and special abilities. Straight-forward enough, sure.
It gets cooler when you realize that you can swap souls in and out almost on the fly, radically changing your abilities as the situation calls for it. Then add the fact that you’ll be able to activate three (out of an eventual eight) souls at any one time, and it’s a recipe for an obscene amount of builds and combinations. You can dump almost all of your soul points into just one soul (effectively creating a one-soul build), spread them out evenly, or come up with symbiotic bonds.
While we’re a ways off from launch and even a final list of souls, one enterprising fan has taken all of the publicly available information to create a Rift Role Builder for fans to tinker with. If you have any interest in the game, I suggest you check it out, if only to get an idea for how the system might function in game and how fun it’ll be to fiddle with character builds to make something unique (or at least, personal).
I’ve even heard rumors — perhaps dev speculation, I can’t recall — that they may also include “for fun” souls that are more geared to RP and festive events. There’s definitely possibilities for fluffy fun if cosmetic souls are included.
In any case, I’m digging the idea of this, mostly because it’ll stave off one of my major complaints of most every MMO’s end game — a fully built but mostly static character. Once you figure out the optimal build for your playstyle, there really is little reason to change.
Except that in Rift, the devs encourage you to keep experimenting, to save multiple builds for different roles, and not be pigeonholed into just one limited profession. I like that. I like you. I think we should be friends.