Paths are different. They constitute about 30% of your leveling experience and in theory map to the famous Bartle types. In practice, the correlation between Bartle Types and Paths seems a bit forced.
Bartle broke down players in one of four types: Achievers, Socializers, Explorers and Killers. Achievers should be attracted to the Science Path, Socializers to the Settlers path, Explorers to the aptly named Explorer Path, and Killers to the Soldier Path. I've played all four paths in Beta through Level 7. Out of the four, Soldier seems to be the one that best fits its associated Bartle type.. As a Soldier, you get a variety of quests and missions that have you… kill stuff… with style.
Explorer should be renamed the Jumping Puzzles path. I found the early jumping puzzles to be fairly simple, but I’m sure it ramps up to 11 as you level up. The payoff is quite nice and the views are stunning. Settler should be called the BuffBot path. You build these stations that give all players (including you) different buffs. Science is the Lore path. You open up additional Lore and you get a pet.
Science seems like a natural fit for Engineer Class and the additional pet does not count against your ‘bot’ limit. A Science Engineer can have three bots out (2 Engineer ones plus the noncombat Science one). While your Scanbot doesn't fight, it does help give that look of traveling with your own private army of robots. Soldier seems like it would go well with a Warrior. Explorer fits in with the teleporting of the Spellslinger.
Perks and Powers
All paths provide bags, housing items, and titles are various levels. Each Path also provides a your character with several powers. You have one of these power in an active slot on your action set. I’ll evaluate each power on a 5 cupcake scale.
- Back Into the Fray – heals 100% HP. Only out-of-the-battle use. / 3 cupcakes. If your class doesn’t have a heal (all tanks) this will be great for recovering from one battle and getting ready for another. I’m not sure what the cool down is.
- Tactical Retreat – allows to take you and your team to the safety. / 2 cupcakes. I didn’t get this power in Beta. I’m not sure if it teleports a short distance away or takes you to your current bind location. • Combat Supply Drop – drops a box with weapon for you and allies next to you. This weapon allows to use skills like stuns etc. / 2 cupcakes. The weapons have limited charges. Most of the time I went with my regular rotation.
- Soldier Rations: Activation: Places a Ration’s crate. Upon interacting with the crate, for the next 5.0s restores 446/892/1782 health every 0.5s. / 3 cupcakes, and sprinkles on top if Back Into the Fray (BItF) is on cool down. It seems like the solider is focused on recovering health.
- Soldier’s March: Activation: Movement speed increased by 20% for the next 15.0 seconds. (30.0/20.0/10.0 Min CD) / 4 cupcakes. Movement speed increases are fantastic especially since you won’t get a mount until Level 25. 1 cupcake dedication for the ridiculously long cool down.
- Settler’s Campfire (60.0 min CD) – allows you to set up a fire which increases healing and maximum health for an hour. You receive a buff for each player who uses your campfire. / 2 cupcakes. This would be higher if the cool down wasn’t so long.
- Summon: Vendbot – creates a shop which buys everything from you for sixty seconds. Also serves as a repair bot for your party. / 5 Cupcakes. Inventory management is a huge pain in the neck through the early game. You don’t have the bag or bank space (especially if you are trying to collect two sets of gear). This will only be made worse with all the Mystery Boxes and other promotions Wildstar is running. In addition, after seeing how challenging the dungeons are, you are going to want a Settler in your party for repairs.
- Report Home – creates portal to your house. / 0 cupcakes. This was removed when they gave all players a teleport to their house.
- Tech-Totem: Experience: Activation: Drops a totem that increases experience gain by 2%/4%/6% to allies within 35 meters of the totem for the next 60.0 seconds. / 5 cupcakes. Normally, this would only be useful during leveling, however; at cap experience points become Elder points which get you Elder gems.
- Sleeping Bag – allows you to log out in the world and get rested experienced (but less rested than you would get at your house). / 2 cupcakes. With the housing teleport you can teleport to your house and teleport right back to wherever you left. I guess there might be sometimes when you’d want to log out in the wild.
- Holographic Distraction – summons a clone who distracts enemies. / Originally 3 cupcakes, now 1 cupcake. however this was recently nerfed so that you can’t use it in any group content (PVE or PVP). You can only use it in the open world.
- Summon: Group – summons a group to you. / 5 cupcakes. Anyone who had “Have Group, Will Travel” in WoW knows how helpful this can be.
- Create Portal – Capitol City: Activation: Opens a portal to the Capital City for the next 10.0 seconds. (120/90/60 min CD) – 0 cupcakes / This was recently given to all players. It is unclear what will happen. Based upon the Settler’s home teleport, it seems likely this will be removed.
- Clarity Elixir: Activation: Places a Ration’s crate. Upon interacting with the crate, for the next 5.0s restores 2%/5%/10% focus every 0.5s. / 3 cupcakes for focus using classes, 0 cupcakes for non-focus using classes.
- Generator: Reputation Gain: Activation: Places an aura on the ground that increases reputation gain by 2%/4%/6% to allies within 35 meters for the next 60.0 seconds. / 4 cupcakes. Wildstar has reputation grinds and I’m sure you remember how useful the Human racial trait Diplomacy was in WoW.
- Scanbot / 1 cupcake. This allows you to do Scientists mission but doesn't provide any perks. I’m giving 1 cupcake just for the sheer coolness factor.
- Safe Fall: Activation: Damage taken from falling reduced by 15%/30%/45% for the next 5.0/7.5/10.0 seconds. Damage from big falls are decreased for a given time. / 3 cupcakes. I have a feeling Explorers will be falling a lot when they mess up a jumping puzzle. Dying is expensive so this will keep you alive.
- Air Brakes – It stops you in the air and let you admire views and make another jump. / 2 cupcakes. Really only needed to solve some jumping puzzles.
- Translocate beacon – lets you save your current position and then teleport to it. Unavailable during PvP. / 4 cupcakes. The further away you are from the beacon the greater the cool down. I could see players coming up with all sorts of interesting and fun ways of using this like leaving this at the entrance of a cave so you don’t have to fight your way back out.
- Enduring Breath: Activation: Breath decays 30%/45%/60% slower than normal. / 2 cupcakes. Like Air Brakes, this one seems like it is simply to help the Explorer do some of the Explorer specific stuff and wouldn't really help outside of that path.
Explorer finds 11 cupcakes.
I eliminated Explorer because I’m not a huge fan of jumping puzzles. I really like Science since it goes well with being an Engineer and I’m usually a Lore nut. That said, Engineers don’t use focus and the overall package seems a little weak. I’m hugely tempted by the incredible potential of Soldier and Settler. Both seem like they would help you level faster and Settler seems like the advantages would continue even into Elder Game content.