Tonight, one of my GM blobs took shape in the form of a half-elf occultist 2, who promptly went on to play Master of the Fallen Fortress and level up. I will endeavour to play as much as possible with the character over the next few weeks and report here. I also keep an up-to-date online character sheet.
My first brush with the occultist was largely positive, though it is hard to say anything definitive at this point. The party was rather strong for the module, with six members. The others were two kineticists, a medium, a halfling barbarian and a 1st-level pregenerated Seelah.
When I was creating my character, I was slightly worried about the amount of moving parts. There's the spells themselves, then there's the focus powers, then there's the resonant powers, and then there's the mental focus point pool… It's a lot to take in at once and there are two separate resource pools to track. This is not a beginner-friendly class.
However, in practice, once I'd figured out all the stuff I can do, it was easily one of the most versatile classes in the game. The spell list is limited, but very solid. Access to cure light wounds and thence the ability to use a wand through the conjuration implement group is very strong, especially in the Pathfinder Society environment.
The limited spells were also offset by the weapon and armour proficiencies and BAB. The occultist sort of looks like a wizard type at first glance, except that taking him into melee can be tactically viable. (Indeed, my sole killing blow was with a quarterstaff – and incidentally, taking a two-handed weapon for a character who needs one hand free to wield implements is a remarkably stupid thing to do.) With mental focus allocated into abjuration, I also had the highest AC in the party (18, with two others at 17).
My mental focus allocation was abjuration 3, conjuration 2, evocation 3. At low levels, the intense focus resonant power from evocation really makes a difference, by the way.
Because of the large party size and the cramped circumstances in most of the module, I was not really able to effectively gauge the combat effectiveness of the class yet. I did not have the opportunity to use a single point of mental focus and only one of my daily spells, most of my time being spent behind the wall of full-BAB classes. I was the only one in the team with ranks in Disable Device, however, which was a great boon. The object reading class ability is also pretty strong compared to what the other classes have at their disposal for identifying magic items, since it wipes the floor with the identify spell. Then again, I don't think I've seen anyone actually ever use identify in Pathfinder RPG. In 3.5 it was useful, but now that the detect magic+Spellcraft combo is a functional replacement, it seems like a wasting a perfectly good spell slot.
Anyway, I digress, and the occultist really doesn't have spell slots to waste.
So, overall, based on the first four hours of play, I am very happy with the occultist. I will now proceed to see if I can break the everloving cheese out of it.