What WildStar should be doing with paths

pathsOne of WildStar’s big talking points prior to launch was its path system.  This was supposed to be a “second class” that you could level up independantly by pursuing a specific type of content tailored to your playstyle (fighting, exploring, lore, building), and would add to the replayability/customization factor quite a bit.

From what I’ve heard, the original plans for paths got toned way down, although that’s hearsay on my part because I’m too tired to do actual research into that.  In any case, what we have in the game is a neat system that shows promise yet underdelivers.  I’ve enjoyed leveling up my settler and scientist paths, but as I’m doing so I keep making a mental list of how Carbine could improve these paths to be more like they were advertised in the first place.  After all, paths SHOULD be a major topic when players share thoughts on the game, but it seems as though most of the discussion has drifted into either housing or raiding.

So what should be done about paths?  Here are five ideas.

1. One of the coolest parts of paths is how it lets you interact with the game world in different and sometimes surprising ways.  Once in a while, I’ll get an option to activate a scientist object that can benefit me in ways other than adding to my path XP, such as opening up a locked door or exploding a barrel so that enemies take more damage.  Those make you feel as though your path has a purpose, and we need a LOT more of them.  WildStar isn’t very consistent with placing these, so they really are a rare occurence.

2. The devs should be adding new types of path missions into future updates.  Scientists need to be doing things other than endlessly scanning the environment (why not let us perform experiments?) and settlers should be able to creatively build things instead of merely activate buff stations.  I’m less familiar with soldier and explorer paths, although I’ll bet that soldiers are probably tired of the constant holdouts.

3. We need more and better path skills.  Paths are worth pursuing for the additional utility skills, such as creating portals or summoning vending machines.  But there are only four or so per path, and you get three of those relatively early on.  New path skills trump pretty much every other reward on the path reward track.  Some paths have better utility skills, period — soldiers get the short end of the stick here.

4. Scientists aren’t explorers, so help us find these things.  From what I hear, explorers get helpful arrows pointing them the way while scientists are often left wandering around hoping that they find all of the datacubes and scannables.  It’s so frustrating to finish up a zone and realize that there are two more datacubes you haven’t found, requiring a trip to a wiki to cross-check with your in-game list so that you can locate those remaining objects.  It’s not what this path is about and it needs to change.

5. There’s a pretty common refrain on the path forums: Let us be able to change and swap paths.  Maybe that would cut down on alts, but not everyone wants to alt anyway, and allowing players to pursue multiple paths would extend the available content for a character.  It would be neat to max out a path and then retain those benefits while starting over on a new path — which would also give me a good reason to revisit old zones.

3 thoughts on “What WildStar should be doing with paths

  1. I originally thought the paths would be more swappable, based on my playing mood really. Locking them in at character creation reflects a misunderstanding of Richard Bartle’s hypothesis anyway. Not hat the popular Bartle Test helps. This actually makes me think of the Myers-Briggs personality test, which has been shown to be unreliable, but is often used in employment decisions and other inappropriate settings.

    Overall, I was a bit disillusioned with scientist, though there are synergies with settler. While I disagree somewhat with your assessment of soldiers (there are more than just holdouts), they do seem a bit less useful to other players, the way settlers are. I do like the ability to bug out of an area like the bottom of a cave, rather than fight my way back out. Heh, some soldier, right? However, if you participate in a holdout with a soldier, you get a buff, just like clicking on a settler biff station.

  2. Not much research needed, paths were a lot more intricate in early beta, settler in particular. The issue was “permanence” by and large, where the change applied by a path either lasted too long and prevented someone else from doing it, or was so short that it meant nothing. They more or less created instances of paths, with minor exceptions.

    Path lock could work like the tradeskill lock, a 3 day cooldown. A live swap, ala limited action set isn’t so attractive to me.

    My real thing for Paths is for an intersect with the housing plots. I would love to be able to be scientific on my plot. the impact would be minor to other players. That would be great.

  3. Download the Perspective AddOn and you’ll never have to worry about not finding things again. It gives you multi-colored straight lines to any point of interest you specify within approximately 250 meters. I use it for datacubes, TALES keys, journal entries, and quest completion NPCs all the time. You can have it show you scientist scans and resource nodes as well among many, many other things.

    If there were some gating and/or cooldown mechanism on path switching I think that would be appropriate. I think in theory one of the ideas was to get different types of players to have to work together such as when a settler rebuilds a scanbot and then a scientist is needed to make it work. What we’re seeing now, though, is players who are able to solo-quest efficiently and forgo most long-term interaction until level 50 at which point paths are primarily useful for their min-maxing buffs. Another issue is that the rewards behind e.g. scientist doors aren’t strong enough to get players to want to group together other than opportunistically. Without sufficient support structures in place for locked-in path selections, there may be legitimate arguments for the ability to switch paths if they are experienced by the community as primarily single-player endeavors.

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