With a lot of hit points and strong physical defense, the Soldier is the best “front lines” fighter. Soldiers can equip powerful weapons and armor and are the only base class that can also equip shields. Apart from direct physical attacks, Soldiers have access to a variety of skills for use in combat and the overworld. A Soldiers' primary weakness are magical attacks, which can be devastating due to their low intelligence/magic defense. Soldiers can slightly offset this weakness through investment in the Well Read, Mage Hunter and Dig Deep branches of the Guardian skill tree, but magic defense will never be a Soldier's strong point.
The soldier does not have mana in the normal sense. Instead they use a system called Will to activate their abilities. When a fight starts, a soldier has no Will. At the beginning of each round a soldier will gain one point of Will, up to a maximum of five stocked points. Investment in Resolve via the Foundation skill tree grants a chance to gain two points of Will per round instead of just one, with the maximum being a 25% chance. The soldier can use these points to activate abilities such as Inspire and Impale.
Skill trees are the basis of leveling and customizing your character in NEStalgia. The skill tree menu unlocks at level 5 and at that point the player will be able to customize their character with the five points available. There are three ways to gain additional points:
Gain an experience level, which grants one point.
Progress through the plot of the game, which grants one point after completing the main quest connected to Verity's lighthouse and an additional point after completing the main quest connected to the Arctic's ice palace.
Spend 100,000 gold on a Greater Moon Blessing, which grants four points all at once.
As of v1.62 this allows for a maximum of 38 points to spend.
Deep Cuts: This branch is useful, if not essential, for any soldier build that centers on improving their damage output. Bleed is difficult to remove for players, companions or most monsters, so increasing the amount of damage inflicted by this status per turn is a good way to tilt a battle of attrition in your favor.
Blood Lust: This branch works as a good add-on to Deep Cuts, allowing a soldier to deal more physical damage than normal. The extra damage this grants during long battles can add up quick. Gore allows a soldier to spread the bleeding to more than one target, which can be useful during PvP battles where Gore goes from a group target to an all target skill.
Butcher: If you want to hedge your bets when it comes to successfully inflicting Bleed on one or more targets, this is the branch to invest in. With full investment Impale will almost always inflict Bleed and Gore will inflict Bleed roughly two-thirds of the time per target.
Thick Skull: Headbutt offers a way to force a target to lose a turn, and further investment in this branch raises the success rate high enough to avoid backlash roughly one-fourth of the time.
Last Stand: When the going gets tough, Last Stand increases damage output. The boost may be enough to turn a battle back in the party's favor, and in any case points in this branch are required in order to utilize Reckless, a soldier's primary source of heavy AoE damage.
Desperate: Like with Last Stand, this branch allows for a boost in damage. Getting two percentage points of increased critical rate for the cost of a single skill point is rather nice, even if those points don't activate until the soldier is at risk of dying.
Fate: On top of adding Reckless to a soldier's arsenal, Fate decreases the backlash damage. This in turn lessens the amount of healing the soldier will need afterwards.
Intense Training: Most soldier builds should spare points to place here, given how helpful extra defense and agility can be, never mind the value of an ability that increases the speed of all party members.
Well Read: Any build looking to cut down on magic damage sent their way would do well to fill out as much of this branch as they can. On top of the obvious bonus (extra magic defense), Well Read eventually allows access to a branch that adds resistance to fire, ice and storm damage...
Mage Hunter: ...namely, this branch. As much as 8% resistance is available, as is the ability to further reduce elemental physical and magical damage by 30% for two rounds thanks to StopSpell.
Shield Wall: Any defensive build worth its salt will focus on this branch, as it greatly increases a soldier's ability to shrug off physical damage under multiple circumstances (protecting a party member, charging forth with a mighty blow, preparing to lash out against single target attacks).
Dig Deep: In extended battles where a soldier's Will is likely to be at or near the maximum, Dig Deep offers damage resistance against all but a select few attacks such as King Gabe's HalfLife. Being able to rouse sleeping party members if needed (via Roar) is a nice bonus, but not the main attraction.
Double Vision: This branch can be useful for offensive builds when fighting enemies that make use of evasion boosting or accuracy lowering abilities. Keeping your odds of hitting your target as high as possible never hurts.
Abilities are skills that the player can use both inside and outside of battle. These abilities will either be bought on the skill tree using skill points or will be learned automatically once the player hits a certain level. Soldiers currently have no abilities that can be used out of battle.
When used on an ally or the Soldier themselves, the Soldier's physical defense is increased. If used on an ally, the Soldier will also take all single-target attacks that were directed at that ally. Occurs at the start of the round.