Out of all the souls that are obviously underpowered and need significant work, the most numerous are the souls that have pets, Necromancers, Elementalists, Druids, Rangers and Beast Masters.
With this common denominator it should be obvious that rift has a major flaw when it comes to handling pet classes. Rift continues to try to balance these souls, but a significant issue will always stop this from ever being possible.
For a pet to be useful and centric to a soul that pet must be a significant factor in that souls game play. There are two ways of going about this in rifts current soul system.
- Make the base pet a significant entity that deals considerable damage/healing/buffs, separate and in concert with the player.
- Make the base pet nigh useless with most of the talents being spent buffing the pet and the players interaction with the pet. This is closer to what Rift currently does however in Rift pets even with significant investment remain weak.
The first option presents the problem that with little investment into a pet soul the player gains a significant and possibly overwhelming advantage. The second option has the problem that if the soul is centric to the pet then there is intrinsically little synergy with other souls.
As can be seen the problem isn't that pets are overpowered or hard to balance. It is that they are hard to balance and combine with non pet souls.
Imagine that all pet souls in the mage, rogue, warrior, and cleric callings were replaced with other souls or revamped so as not to use pets and a new calling was created called something like Overlord.
The Overlord Calling would be based around pets. Each soul would have one pet that you got as a base ability and would scale based directly off of your gear.
The reason this would work as opposed to the current system is that every soul that had a pet would be within the same calling. These souls would no longer have to be balanced against non pet souls in addition to pet abilities, because you would have no interaction with non pet souls. Talent trees in the Overlord calling could be focused solely on pet mechanics.
In addition by doing this it would allow for new and interesting game play within the game.
- The pets could be scaled by the point investment in that soul as a base mechanic and allow multiple pets, one per soul. This would allow either one powerful pet or multiple less powerful pets.
- You could add a soul that builds and controls turrets, like those already in the game at onslaughts.
- You could add a true tanking pet soul.
- You could make druids a viable healing soul.
But the most important aspect of this idea is that by separating pet souls from the other souls, you are freed to actually develop real game play for those who like using pets.