One of the new Features in Wildstar are Player Paths. Seems there is a little confusion on how these Paths work and I will try to explain it a bit more in detail. At gamescom we have seen 2 of the 4 paths, Explorer and the Soldier. Scientist and Settler are still in development. What are the paths for?
Wildstar is using a layer system to bring content to the player. This means quests, monsters or other content for everyone are the basic part of the game for everyone. The path system will bring another layer of actions to you. Paths are not the only layer, there is another layer for skilled players, who get more mobs if they kill them fast to keep the challenge and rewards up. But more about these layers later.
There is an additional layer for paths. For example if you chose explorer path and you come to a place with something interesting close by you will get notified and a quest to go there. A Soldier for example would not get this quest, more concerned to drive back a wave of enemies from a structure. This is basically the idea behind the paths, to choose a path which you like to do. If you like to peek behind rocks and to find the hidden areas in games then the explorer path will actually reward you for doing that.
The demonstration shows an explorer running along a hillside when a message pops up to place a device at an area blocked by landslides. To get there you run up you need to dodge the landslides, plant the device and you will be rewarded. At another location an explorer could change the area to make it possible to jump up to the peak of a rock. Sorry for the low quality picture, it is taken from a youtube video.
The Soldier attracts the more violent side in us, ROAAARRRR, they like to fight and were shown to defend a device from waves of attacking monsters. The last wave was a “leader type” type of monster, with special attacks. Personally I do not think they will stay limited to killing stuff, but maybe they will be able to blow some stuff up (this is just a wild guess, have not seen anything alike) or do similar stuff or to escort, rescue NPC’s.
Scientists and Settlers are not ingame, yet. However the idea behind scientists is that the path is intended for players interested in lore and story on Nexus. I think the Q&A mentioned that they will be able to itneract with Eldar devices (Eldar are the previous inhabitants of the planet, highly advanced but disappeared from one day to the next). Settlers are intended for social players and they interact with locals on the planet, to help them build up a structure or gather ressources. Strategyinformer mentions that Settlers could build hospitals for example. The Settlers path is also tailored at players that want to run guilds or play an active role in them.
I tried to find out via Twitter or Facebook, if it would be possible to change paths in case you did not like your current one, but did not get a reply. On the other hand I am not sure they’d want to answer it at this early stage anyhow.
Another nice feature about the layer system is that you can help a player, even on another path, if you happen to come by as he does his layer quest and get rewarded.
Some of the actions taken through your path tie into the plot of the ongoing story, where placing a device as explorer or activating an eldar device as scientist has effect on the game world (according to pcgamer).
Here is a video of Jeremy Gaffneys from Carbine Studios explaining Player Paths