I tried out the mage tanking soul Arbiter in Rift 2.7 on Thursday night. Overall I was pleased with its performance in Realm of the Fae, but I’m a bit worried that it will be “complicated” to play at higher levels. Take that with a big grain of salt though as I am far from an expert tank, and I have only seen low-level abilities.
If you don’t know, it costs 5000 points/gems/whatever to buy the new souls. I already had 2000 of them, so I could get away with only spending $20 for the 3000 gem package. I suppose it’s possible to get them without spending any real money using those REX or whatever, but that system is too complicated for my economics-challenged brain to understand.
My philosophy on playing new souls is to start with low-level characters and explore the abilities in the order they are given to you as you’re leveling. It’s pretty overwhelming to look over dozens of abilities all at once. So I started at level 14 with a minimal set of Arbiter abilities and some questing around Meridian to get the basic mechanics of it.
The new “preset” build containing Arbiter is called “Arcanist.” I just went with that to start out, even though the presets generally aren’t optimal. It has Arbiter as the main soul, Stormcaller as the secondary, and Warlock as the third. I found that to be a puzzling combination because my cursory glance at the Arbiter skills made me think that Harbinger would have had better synergy than Warlock, perhaps even Elementalist. The Arbiter skills looked to be based mainly on Air and Water. Perhaps they are thinking that you would use the Warlock Drain Health DoT while tanking?
Anyway after some questing, I hit 15 and jumped straight into Realm of the Fae, the first dungeon. Unlike the other tanking souls that I’ve seen, Arbiter gets an AoE attack before level 16 (albeit with a 4-second cooldown), so I didn’t feel like I needed to wait. Combined with the permanent buff that increases threat generation, it made for a formidable AoE-pull in RotF. I rarely lost threat once I’d established it. I only had to use the taunt a handful of times.
I was a little surprised to see that the tanking works just like a sword-and-board tank. That is, you just stand there and let the mobs beat on you while you swing your staff at them. I’m not sure what I expected but I vaguely remember hearing that there might be a summoned pet involved. I thought it would have been cool if they could have turned the pets in the other souls into “true” dungeon tanking pets instead of just emergency tanks in a pinch.
I’m not sure what to think of the Arbiter so far. Previously, my favorite tanking class in Rift was Cleric with the Justiciar soul, mainly because the mechanics are really easy and I can concentrate on positioning. It was certainly easy to tank with a mage in RotF, but will it remain that easy? I guess I’ll find out in the next dungeon.