The Settler is probably one of the more unique ideas as far as Paths go in WildStar, and my first playthrough is with a Medic Settler. I am going to cover some of the basics of what Settlers do as well as what to expect on your journey through Nexus.
Settlers are essentially the "support" role of the four paths, although all of the paths eventually help each other out in one way or another. It is the most obvious for the Settler though, as their primary contribution is to set up a network of convenience resources, protection, and buffs to a localized area. This is done through Depots, which are static nodes placed throughout each zone in key points, such as towns, questing hubs, and well-trafficked roads.
Depot construction requires the collection of various resources that are provided throughout the zone. Each zone has a unique set of materials, so you cannot grind lower level areas to stock up. Their overall abundance makes this unnecessary though. When activating a depot, a menu appears with multiple options available in which to spend these resources. Some of them include:
- Sanctuary: A deployed field around the depot area which prohibits enemy mobs from attacking
- Cloaking Station: Temporary puts you in stealth
- Health/Shield/Stat/Resistance Stations: Gives you a long duration buff which increases a specified attribute
- Guards: Spawns several NPC guards which help protect the location
- Item Vendors: Spawns NPCs which you can purchase and sell too. Many have a second upgrade which will make rarer items available.
- Speeder Vendors: Creates a fast travel taxi between the depot and a major town/area.
- Shield/Healing Fields: A deployed field around the depot area continually replenishes health or shields.
- Experience Stations: Provides a buff which increases the amount of experience you gain.
- Settler Tech-Totem Vendor: Summons a vendor which sells different Settler-only items. You can purchase one totem at a time (they are unique) and they have 5 charges. The totems can be activated to drop a mobile experience boost field, health regeneration field, or a quick teleport. After the charges are used, the item is consumed and you can purchase a different one from the vendor.
- Bank Box: Sets up a box which lets players access their bank.
- Mailbox: Sets up a mailbox.
- Feasts: Creates a buff-providing table of food.
All of these cost varying amounts of resources and have a timer for when they expire. Any Settler can stop by and add on to your improvements, which will increase their deployment timer.
The improvements in each depot are often split into three different categories: Economy, Security, and Quality of Life. You can filter by each category when building. Next to each category is a percentage, and building improvements in those categories will increase that percentage. If all categories reach 100%, you will activate a Payoff.
A Payoff is a unique improvement to the zone around the depot. When you push each category to 100%, a zone-wide announcement is played that advertises the availability of the Payoff. In Gallow (a town in Algoroc), the payoff is a Vulcarrion Roast. The roast is a set of objects which you can interact with for a 1 hour buff that boosts your health by 15%.
Each path has their own unique set of rewards for leveling. The Settler's includes various sized backpacks, titles, FABkits (housing items), and the following path abilities:
- Summon: Mailbox - Summons a mailbox which players can use to manage their mail. 10 minute cooldown.
- Summon: Crafting Station: Summons a crafting station which players can use for crafting for their respective tradeskills. 60 minute cooldown.
- Summon: Vendbot - Drops a vending machine which you can use to sell items and purchase useful consumables. Cooldown is 10 minutes and lasts for 120 seconds at highest rank.
- Settler's Campfire - 60 min cooldown. Summons a campfire that will heal you while nearby and give you a 3% health buff when interacted with.
The most useful of all these is the Vendbot. With a 10-minute cooldown, it's a lifesaver for keeping your bags clean. It also sells rather powerful health potions and food, which should not be ignored. The first rank has access to purchase 10-slot bags as well, which are hard to find up to that point, although they are a bit pricey.
The rest of the abilities are all super convenient to have on demand, whether its summoning a mailbox to grab your Auction House sales, plopping down an Ability Kiosk for your raid to respec on the fly, or you want to do some crafting in the middle of the jungle.
Along with these benefits, each path has their own set of unique tasks that become available when you arrive in each zone. The Settler types are as follows:
Expansion missions are missions for specifically upgrading certain depots. They typically require you to spend a specific amount on upgrades in order to complete.
Supply Cache missions are basically a Settler-specific treasure hunt. You use the mission UI (much like the quest arrows) to point you in the direction of a cache, and you follow it until you find the location. Once there, you can dig up the cache for a substantial amount of Settler resources.
Public Service / Civil Defense
These missions are generally just kill or hunting quests. Civil Defense normally includes somewhat stronger mobs to kill.
Some zones have a unique structure which needs to be built. An NPC will ask you to collect resources nearby in the zone to contribute to the production. Most of these seem to not be implemented yet, but you can still complete the mission by getting credit for helping.
Settler is basically the path for those who like to be builders and supporters, with a little bit of farming thrown in. If you liked playing a Mage Engineer in World of Warcraft because you could provide town portals, food to your friends, and repair robots to your raids, then Settler is for you. WildStar differs in that these convenience mechanics are not separated out to different classes like other games, but instead all packaged underneath the Settler path style. If depots become available inside dungeons and raids in WildStar, Settlers will essentially become the go to path for buffing, traveling, vendoring, and all other manners of convenience for your group.
However, the path itself does have some issues, which admittedly we will probably see change at some point throughout the beta.
Issue #1: Insane World Clutter
I'd be hard-pressed to recommend Settler to a new WildStar player solely for this reason. The path itself adds a bunch of things to the world for you to interact with, which include: multiple resource types to collect (which are EVERYWHERE), various "doodads" to activate, depots, settler specific npcs, and infrastructures. These are just the common ones as well, some areas have more unique features like mining golems you can activate to dig resources. The result is basically interaction overload in towns and large quest hubs. This lessens greatly as one learns the game and beings to understand what each of the Settler objects do, but it can be very daunting at first.
- Drastically reduce or remove the Settler-specific doodads. (Fire torches, barricades, flags etc). The doodads provide very little tangible benefit other than looking cool and giving you 5 rep for wasting time on channeling, but they are one of the big contributors to Settler cluster in towns.
- Provide other methods for resource acquisition. When the game is released, it is possible that the abundance is necessary - but it would help if Settlers could more readily find their resources by killing mobs, or perhaps building their own mining bot to deploy and harvest.
The Pros (and Summary)
The previously mentioned issues are actually rather minor, and I would not consider them game-breaking by any means. That being said, you do get the feeling that you benefit everyone around you as a Settler, and for me that was important. I can imagine that this will increase dramatically with the more people present in the zone as well.
Building stuff is also pretty satisfying. The animations fit well with the theme, and I am excited to see what some of the infrastructures do. Watching a bunch of people flock to the depot as you activate stuff is a pretty cool thing. Payoffs also have great potential as well. The Vendbot is surprisingly useful, and the home portal is a very useful convenience to have.
What will really decide Settlers, though, is whether or not depots will be considered in raids and warplots. If so, the Settler path will be absolutely amazing, and this is because they will be necessary. Ultimately, Settler attracts the kind of people who like to be necessary - this is why we choose healers and classes that provide transportation and buffs that large groups look for. Settler is a practical combination of all these things, and I can't wait to find out what more there is in store for my favorite path.