Patch 1.11 hit the Public Test Server last week and players have been anxious to preview the changes to their favorite souls. Along with hefty alterations to the individual souls, the PTR also shows a new direction for RIFT in combat design. All the changes deserve a close look over the next few weeks, starting today with the Cleric healing souls Purifier, Senticar, and Warden.

The current design of skills in original RIFT encourages players to stack similar spells with cast times using macros. In Storm Legion, Trion seems to be moving towards more instant skills with different cooldowns. The result is more skills being used routinely during combat, and more space being taken on your hotbar. Arguably combat is about to get more difficult, although also more fun with each player having a more diverse toolkit.

All the healing trees have been given much better spells to return mana in combat, and had crowd control abilities removed in many cases. On a more specific level, Cleric healing trees seem to have been given a clarity of purpose.

Changes to the Justicar tree have all but killed the popular Senticar hybrid, however Trion replaced it with a reformed Warden tree. Now truly the master of Area of Effect heals, the Warden also gained some DPS and it will be an interesting pairing with some points in Senticar or Justicar to provide some minimal tank healing abilities.

Speaking of which, the Purifier is still the tree for tank healing although it’s been tuned to use more shields and damage absorption tricks along with direct heals. The response from players so far has been positive, although the tree is running into problems with less powerful shields overwriting better ones from other players.

The Sentinel seems the most hard done by of all the Cleric healing souls if only for the demise of the Senticar. The Sentinel tree had an healing speed increase across the board, making it the fastest casting Cleric healing tree even if the spells themselves aren’t as powerful as the Warden or Purifier. However, the soul’s jack-of-all-trades nature will make it a great secondary tree for a number of soul builds.

The Justicar tree was always mainly for tanking, but many of the more appealing spells for healers have been removed at the lower levels of the tree. The soul retained the popular instant AoE heal Doctrine of Loyalty, but with it’s effectiveness reduced. The organization of the tree is good news for tanks, but poor news for -icars.

According to the chatter on the official forums, Purifier is about to become the PvP spec of choice, and current Senticars will want a Warden/Sentinel hybrid.

Patch 1.11 does not yet have a release date, but is rumored to be arriving as soon as this Wednesday.