The next big Rift content update, which hits servers tomorrow morning, will bring big changes to Telara, including the beginning stages of the Hammerknell opening event--a massive battle between the elemental planes of Death and Water. Several other highly anticipated features, such as Guild Banks and Character Transfers, will also be included. But there's one thing no one knew was coming—until now. We have exclusive details on one of the most exciting additions in this patch: the first tier of class-specific Armor Sets.
Armor Sets are specific groups of gear that have a unified visual theme and are designed for a specific type of class and will provide addition bonuses on top of what's on the armor for acquiring the whole set--a familiar mechanic for MMOs and RPGs in general. But Armor Sets in Rift can't be handled in the way gamers are accustomed to. Since players in Rift can customize their character by choosing to mix together three of 32 Souls for hundreds of possible combinations, the traditional method of gathering a class-specific set of items simply wouldn't work--there's just too many variations within each class. “We'd have to create hundreds of different item sets for all of the different types of combinations,” Trion Worlds' designer Andrew Krausnick explained to me. The problem is, with each Soul needing different stats to succeed, the bonuses that work for a Rogue who specializes in Bard won't necessarily help the Rogue who puts all of his points in Assassin.
In order to avoid this potential problem, Trion found a clever workaround: Rift's Armor Sets are still defined by your class, but the extra bonuses given for collecting multiple the pieces of gear in that Set aren't on the items themselves. Instead, those meta-bonuses will be applied through a new, compeltely separate item that will show up in the Character pane when 1.3 launches. They're called a Synergy Crystals, and each one (there will be 32 different ones at patch launch) gives bonuses to different stats--but only once you've collected enough pieces of your Armor Set. Alone, the Crystal doesn't do anything, but with each Set Item that is equipped, it provides more and more stat bonuses.
For example, a Warrior Riftblade will want to get a Crystal that gives bonuses to Crit, Hit, and Damage, while a Warrior Warlord will be searching for one that enhances his Health and Armor. They'll both be rolling on the same Plate armor pieces to collect the same Armor Set when they drop from the new Hammerknell content, but the two players will be using them to activate and empower their own, distinct Synergy Crystals--getting completely different bonuses out of the Armor Set. There's a Snyergy Crystal for each Soul in the game, so there should be at least one good option for every single combination of Souls.
UPDATE: To help clarify, we asked Krausnick if we'll be able to swap out Synergy Crystals and he confirmed: "Synergy Crystals work like any other item in the game, too, meaning players can switch them out to get different benefits if they wish. That way, when a Warrior changes from his DPS Role to his Tank Role, he can change the bonus his set gives."
Naturally, more Armor Sets and Synergy Crystals will be added with future updates, expanding on the foundation laid in tomorrow's patch. In the meantime, having only four sets (and 32 Crystals) should make things much easier to start, while still letting players enhance their highly-customized characters.
But this is just one part of what makes 1.3 exciting. Throughout the next few weeks we'll have more news, interviews, and walkthrough guides to help you get the most out of the update!