The Engineer is also adept at handling more challenging encounters on its own due to its two class pet bots. During the early levels, Engineers can unlock two (of four total) bot pets that are permanent companions who help the Engineer fight in unique ways. The first bot that I unlocked was the Bruiser Bot, a tank and disrupter who taunts enemies. The next bot was the Artillery Bot, which attacked from range, and has a missile barrage that does heavy AoE damage. The bots can be controlled through a small UI, and have behaviors such as Defensive, Assist, and Passive. The Engineer's bots make him able to handle otherwise overwhelming challenges. While leveling up I was able to solo every group quest that I encountered up to level 15.
The bots were simultaneously the best and worst part of playing an Engineer. The added damage, CC, and off-tanking capabilities helped me to handle challenges that would have otherwise been impossible, and their active abilities are among the strongest in the Engineer's arsenal. Unfortunately, though, the bots suffer from some very frustrating problems, such as having very poor pathing, and occasionally disappearing without any notice. The bots would also occasionally despawn and not respawn when summoned, which could only be fixed by relogging. The player's inability to customize the bots in any way is also very disappointing, considering how much of a core element they are in the Engineer's kit. With access to only two bots for the first fifteen levels, and minimal customization via AMPS (WildStar's talent points) and Tier Points (ability customization), I was running around with the same two bots as every other Engineer. Though they definitely need some work, the utility and damage of simply having two other characters in the game world make the bots completely worth it.
The Explorer is for those that spent their childhood playing platformers and have mastered the gentle art of the jump puzzle, and won't leave a level until every nook and cranny of the map have been scoured. If you're the type of person who can't move on from a zone until he's killed every enemy, looted every crate, and found every secret room, then the Explorer is perfect for you. Explorers are given hints on how to find secret areas, and are rewarded for fully exploring the map. While the vistas, secret shortcuts, and speed buffs are highly rewarding, be prepared to do a lot of running. The Explorer path by definition requires a lot of time spent exploring, meaning that you won't be leveling up as quickly as your Soldier or Scientist friends. Though some of the Explorer paths involve cutting your way through an enemy littered area, just as many require spending 20minutes trying to carefully jump to the top of a tree with no enemies in sight.
The Explorer path missions left me frustrated much of the time, as clear starting points were often difficult to locate. I'm willing to admit that this may be partially due to my player type, but after five or ten minutes looking for a hidden entrance, I gave up on several of the missions and kept questing.
One quest type that I ultimately enjoyed despite my initial distaste was scavenger hunts. Upon accepting my first scavenger hunt quest, I was displeased to find that it was a glorified fetch quest: Go find these flowers near a river, go loot this relic off that elite mob, get this stone from that hill. What I didn't realize until later was that these locations weren't just around the corner. Turned out that river was at the top of a mountain, that elite mob was at the bottom of a tunnel, and that stone is actually on the top branch of a tree on that hill. I was pleasantly surprised to find these locations were often remote, and granted a unique perspective on the surrounding area. Despite any frustration I might've felt from the climb up, the view from the top was always worth it.
For more coverage on my general experience with WildStar's closed beta, check out a Week of WildStar, and for a sneak peek of elder game content, read this exclusive interview with Mike Donatelli on WildStar's 40-man raids.