Enter at Your Own Rift: Build to win

Enter at Your Own Rift Building off the backs of others

We've arrived at the point in RIFT's post-expansion launch cycle when I'm genuinely embarrassed to admit how slowly I've progressed. While many of you are probably 60 and living the high life in the endgame, I'm still (mumbles) 51. I have many excuses for this: a newborn at home, flip-flopping interest between my Rogue and Cleric, a lot of experimentation in Dimensions, and Storm Legion's generally slow leveling pace. But perhaps my greatest excuse stems from one of the core features of the game. I keep making new builds and experimenting with them.

Is that my fault? After all, with just one the addition of one new soul per calling a legion of new builds arose. Pun intended. Players on the forums are crunching numbers, fiddling with old builds, and magicking new ones out of thin air.

I've become fascinated if not addicted to testing out these player-created builds as of late. Some promise the world and are sadly lacking, while others have shown me synergies that I didn't realize were possible.

Enter at Your Own Rift Building off the backs of others

The old way vs. the new

For the longest time, I basically ignored what other people were doing in regard to builds. I actually think that's the preferable path when you first start out in the game. Just enjoy tinkering around with the soul trees, mix and match to your heart's delight, and have fun coming up with weird concept builds. Sure, there are builds that will vastly underperform and those that are at the top of the charts, but unless you're running experts or raids on a regular basis, who cares?

When Storm Legion launched, the difficulty stepped up a bit, and I found that some of my tried-and-true builds from the base game were not as effective as they once were. And while it's not that hard to come up with builds that largely revolve around a single soul, I had difficulty coming up with those that spread points more evenly between two or three. I wanted to discover better ways to get through these fights without dying all the time, and that meant learning from those who have spent a lot more time creating and testing ideas.

The only thing that was stopping me from drawing on that experience and knowledge was my own stubborn pride. It felt like an admission that I was not Captain N: The Game Master by taking someone else's advice. Some part of me figured that checking out these builds would be violating one of the tenets of RIFT. But pride is never a good thing to cling to, and besides, I really wanted to put the pedal to the metal and see what my characters were capable of doing.

A helping hand from Trion

There is certainly no shortage of build suggestions both on the official forums and on fan sites. It's almost ridiculously easy to implement their suggestions, too. Soul tree builds are laid out, macros are listed, general theory behind the build is explained, and combat rotations are talked through. Even better, these builds are refined by others who read them, test them, and offer feedback. A few of these bubble up to the top and become the popular choice for many. Others are doomed to be nothing more than novelty concepts.

Testing out one of these builds requires nothing more than a spare role to wipe clean and a little bit of time to set it up. In a recent patch, Trion helped us out by eliminating the cost for skill ranks; now, once you buy a skill, it automatically scales up with your level. Not only is that convenient, but it helps immensely when you're trying builds across the whole soul spectrum. I don't know about you, but I'm not made out of money.

So now I find myself logging in just to try out a new build. Sure, it's not "time-friendly" from the perspective to shooting up to level 60 as quick as possible, but I've long since gotten past the desire to participate in a race that I'm destined to lose. The way I see it, I'm still having fun, and I have a wealth of content ahead instead of behind me. Guess who's less likely to burn out?

Enter at Your Own Rift Building off the backs of others

Lessons learned

Instead of being a substitute for my own brain, using others' builds has taught me a lot that I'm actively using in the game. Two builds that I'm using lately are a cool "invincible Rogue" setup that is just about impossible to fail at using and an overpowered Tactician DPS build that makes the most of torrents. Sure, I could have just loaded those up and mindlessly clicked my way through the expansion, but instead I carefully looked through these builds and uncovered how they worked. Identifying the useful synergy between soul traits not only is helpful to get the most out of that build but also arms me with information that I can use for my own future builds.

It's also eye-opening to see how others prioritize their constructions, ranging from extreme DPS specialists to jack-of-all-trades generalists. When I sense a builder whose play style is far more in line with how I game, I feel more confident that the build will mesh with me. But it's still good for me to get out of my comfort zone and try combinations that I have shunned in the past because it didn't fall within my usual parameters.

For example, I've never been much of the "Rogue who runs around with two knives, stealths, and then backstabs everyone to death" type of player. I'm glad I tried a build that revolved around this typical class stereotype, however, because it showed me how RIFT's little twists could take a boring staple and make it a powerhouse.

Some of the more recent builds could also be a key to helping you understand how the four new souls in Storm Legion work. None of these souls is completely straightforward, and since many of us are attempting to use them at level 50, they can be overwhelming. Leaning on those who have spent a lot of time with them in the beta and beyond helps to surmount that learning curve. And besides, it's not as if anyone will know whether or not your build is your own. I had a teacher once who said that most creative people borrow or steal 80% of ideas and use the remaining 20% to modify those ideas or come up with their own original thoughts. We can't be reinventing the wheel every dang time, after all.

The sheer variety of builds and the continuing community interest in theorycrafting new ones shows just how robust RIFT's class system is in comparison to systems in many other games. Now if you'll excuse me, I have eight new builds I found in the course of writing this column that I want to try out.

Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.