RIFT vs The Cookie Cutter Monster
In my previous post I wrote about how RIFT made me appreciate the class and talent design of World of Warcraft more than before – it’s all very streamlined and simple when compared to the huge amount of freedom, thought and decisions that RIFT offers. A nice little conversation sparked off in the comments section about whether or not this wealth of variety and option would reduce the appeal of following cookie cutter builds and I wanted to explore that thought a little more.
Personally, I have no doubt that we’ll see the gradual and increased rise of cookie cutter builds emerging in RIFT. It’s human nature, simple as that. We are all driven (well, most of us) to achieve perfection and be the “best” at the things we love so there’s a huge, overwhelming desire to keep fiddling and tweaking with things until they’re prefect, regardless of whether or not that pursuit is actually achievable. Not only is this ideal of perfection part of our natural psychology but I also believe it’s part of the fun and enjoyment we gain from playing RPGs. They cater to this base instinct of adjustment and progress and allow us to derive a lot of satisfaction from the process.
Of course, however and more to the point, we’re also lazy and competitive creatures that want to achieve perfection as soon as possible and thus there is a great attraction to following the cookie cutter build, a template of talents or soul points or whatever depending on the game, that gives us the biggest bang for our buck. We then pile on a healthy does of peer pressure (having been subject to it ourselves) to try and persuade others to do the same. “Don’t have a certain talent spec? Sorry, don’t want you. We need that extra 0.5% DPS.” This unfortunately then perpetuates a pretty vile achievement based culture (but that’s another blog post).
So yes, I think we will see a pretty solid growth in the amount of cookie cutter builds out there for RIFT. But do I think it will ever get as bad as WoW? No.
I honestly think RIFT will manage to maintain a certain degree of individuality in its soul specs for two reasons. Firstly, the sheer number of souls, abilities, points and combinations of distribution will make it very difficult (maybe even impossible) to accurately gauge the “success” of a particular build. Unlike WoW, which has – in my opinion – too many talent points per tier and thus a significantly reduced number of combinations, RIFT is just brimming with limitless combinations and possibilities. It’s going to very hard to crack them all. Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, there is no way to (unless I’ve completely missed how to do it) actually see what soul build your friends are using.
This obfuscation, whether done on purpose or not, is actually a rather beautiful thing as it stops any form of competition or arguing over builds with people you encounter. Again unlike WoW, in which you get inspected like a young chimpanzee being groomed by it’s mother whenever you join a new PUG, there is no way to perform the same talent/soul point inspection in RIFT. I hope it stays that way.
Anyway, there you have some of my rather lovely thoughts. Let me know yours.