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Rift Class Selection Breakdown

The beta for Rift: Planes Of Telara has come to a close.  However, I did spend an extensive amount of time giving all the classes a serious shakedown specifically so I can settle that age old altaholicism of mine.

Choosing a main class

An important consideration to give towards Rift's 4 main classes is that each of them can fulfill role on the holy trinity of Tank (the hero who absorbs the enemy's wrath) Healer (the hero who heals the damage the tank takes) and DPS (the hero who inflicts damage on the enemy). However, there's a varying degree to it. To sum it up:


General play style: Just about every soul the Warrior plays will put you into melee combat, with the Riftblade offering some options otherwise. If you like getting up close and personal for steel-on-steel, the Warrior is your pick.

Can Tank? Absolutely. The Paladin, Void Knight, and Reaver are specialized to do this. However, every Warrior wears the heaviest armor and has ability to grab aggro (enemy hostility) and so they are the first choice for the role.

Can Heal? Not really. Although some souls have healing and wards (damage point absorbers) they can apply, the greatest means a Warrior has to counteract group damage is to take it upon themselves. A warrior is at their best when somebody else is propping them up while they hold the aggro.

Can DPS? Surprisingly well. The Champion in particular is exceptionally good at delivering high DPS, punishing blows. The Beastmaster and Paragon are likely no slouches at it, either. The Riftblade does decent damage on its own, but is even better at adding damage to any existing DPS subclass.


General play style: The Mage prefers to toss spells from a distance; unlike the other three classes, none of the Mage's soul options are built for melee unless you count by proxy of a summoned pet. Aside from where the Mage prefers to stand, a remarkably diverse set of experiences can be found here. The Dominator is unique in that it is primarily a control-based soul. The Archon is focused heavily on buffs/debuffs. The Chloromancer has the Mage playing an effective substitute healer between damage doing.

Can Tank? Last place amongst the four, but quite possibly. The Elemental Summoner's greater earth elemental packs a remarkable amount of aggro grabbing, and you can set up a nice healing feedback loop with Chloromancer's Synthesis ability that can keep that elemental alive. Throw in some Dominator control for adds (extra enemies attacking) and there's even greater potential for aggro management.

Can Heal? Surprisingly well. The Chloromancer is the main soul to choose for this, possessing a great deal of means to heal, mostly reactive to damage dealt by the Mage or the party, but even some powerful direct heals can be found. Some additional supplemental healing can be found in the other Mage souls, but none really holds a candle to the Chloromancer.

Can DPS? Absolutely. Although some Mage souls are better at it than others, all Mages can put out a substantial amount of damage. The Pyromancer in particular has a great deal of focus put on enhancing their own damage, and is an ideal base to the role. Depending on primary soul taken, the Mage will excell at DoTs (damage over time), AOE (area-of-effect), or direct single target damage. (Warlock/Necromancer, Pyromancer/Elemental Summoner, and Stormcaller respectively).


General play style: Depending on souls equipped, the Cleric can be fighting in melee or at range, avoiding aggro or collecting it for themselves. Alternately, taking a role that focuses on any of their three healing souls will keep you watching the group's health bars to try to prevent them from depletion.

Can Tank? Surprisingly well. The Justicar in particular has the means to reach armor levels that rival (and at times exceed) the Warrior, and their ability to feed back their damage into healing themselves can even give them greater survivability on their own. The two other melee roles, the Druid and Shaman, are significantly less effective at tanking, being more offensively oriented.

Can Heal? Absolutely. A Cleric role specialized in the Warden, Sentinel, and/or Purifier soul should be your first choice for a healer role. This incredible healing capability also translates into a remarkably safe, if slow, soloing experience.

Can DPS? Last place amongst the four, but DPS is there. Particularly effective is the Inquistor's soul drain ability, which inflicts sharp spike damage when three targets are within 7 meters. The Cabalist is also built for damage doing, primarily AOE, although I feel their attacks are a bit redundant for what they accomplish. Aside from those two souls, the Cleric's damage is moderate, that overwhelming survivability of theirs comes at a cost.


General play style: Six of the Rogue's eight souls are offensive in nature, granting the Rogue a choice of whether they want to hurt foes quickly from afar, in toe-to-toe melee, or (unique to Rogue) a sudden stealth attack. However, the Bard and the Riftstalker pull a surprise upset in exactly what a Rogue is capable of, granting them the full range of any role in the holy trinity they care to play.

Can Tank? Surprisingly well. A well-played Riftstalker is a very flashy tank, they can grab threat and bolster their own armor well. True, I may put them in third behind the Warrior (any) and Cleric (Justicar), but they would not be trailing by far.

Can Heal? Surprisingly well. The Bard is the sole soul to deliver healing with, possessing a wide amount of heals that can keep a party's hit points topped off. Their primary weakness is heavy spike damage, but this is actually somewhat compensated for in later levels. A second-tier grudge match between a Bard and Chloromancer for best healer would be a difficult one to call - they're both quite good at it. The Bard is also a popular choice for soloing due to the survivability that level of healing brings.

Can DPS? Absolutely. Of course, where the Rogue is strongest will be single target spike damage, whether you're doing it up close (Bladedancer, Assassin, Nightblade) or afar (Ranger, Marksman). The Saboteur provides a bit of AOE to the mix. If you want stuff dead fast, a Rogue or Mage will likely be the ones to bring it. I think it's the comfortable rate of damage dealing, making for speedy and fun soloing, that makes the Rogue such a popular class.
Population Assessment
I often put a bit too much pride in originality, and figure (irrationally) that what other people play should have an influence on what I do - gotta support the underdogs, right? So I did an experiment. Looking down the Defiant side of Shadefallen (a PvE-RP server) and Guardian side of Wolfsbane (a PvE server) at about 11:30pm PST on the last day of Open Beta, I investigated which of the classes seem to receive the most play by hand counting the /who list for level brackets.

Taking levels 15-30 into account the breakdown was the following:

Shadefallen Only - 27% Warrior, 17.6% Cleric, 23.9% Mage, 31.4% Rogue
Wolfsbane Only - 23% Warrior, 22.1% Cleric,16.9% Mage, 38.0% Rogue
Overall - 24.7% Warrior, 20.2% Cleric, 19.9% Mage, 35.2% Rogue

(There were 372 players in this level range overall.  It was pretty late in the day and the servers were mostly cleared out as the beta was coming to a close.  However, if we believe that no one class has an advantage in a tendency to want to stay late on the server, this shouldn't have impacted the overall ratio.)

Consistently speaking, the Rogue is far and away the most played class, making up roughly a third of the server population. The Warrior is the second played class, but trails at about a quarter of the server population. The Cleric and Mage seem to be roughly tied for third place.

Overall, I don't think population should worry you much. Considering how flexible Rift is in supporting the holy trinity of Tank, Healer, or Mage, even if the server was 100% Rogue there would be successful groups for running those difficult dungeon instances.
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