Pathfinder: Kingmaker Is An Isometric RPG Experience

I've been quite excited to play Pathfinder: Kingmaker for quite a while. An isometric Baldur's Gate style CRPG using the Pathfinder 1st Edition rules, it launched yesterday.

"With the help of over 18,000 Kickstarter backers, Narrative Designer Chris Avellone and composer Inon Zur, Owlcat Games is proud to bring you the first isometric computer RPG set in the beloved Pathfinder tabletop universe. Pathfinder: Kingmaker puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil! Take on the role of a canny fighter hacking through enemies with an enchanted sword, a powerful sorceress blessed with magic by the hint of demon blood in her veins, a wise cleric of gods benevolent or malignant, a witty rogue ready to defuse even the deadliest of traps, or any of countless other heroes. The only limit is your imagination!"


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To the north lie the Stolen Lands, a region that has been contested territory for centuries. Hundreds of kingdoms have risen and fallen in these lands, and now it is time for you to make your mark—by building your own kingdom! To do so, you’ll need to survive the harsh wilderness and the threat of rival nations… as well as threats within your own court.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is based on Paizo’s award-winning Pathfinder Adventure Path of the same name. You certainly don’t need to be familiar with the story, but if you are, you will encounter characters you know and love as well as a host of brand-new events, companions, allies, and threats that expand and enhance the original Adventure Path. With help from Paizo and their authors, the story and quests have been expanded by RPG writer Chris Avellone and the Owlcat team, allowing for even more adventure in the already rich narrative of the Stolen Lands.

While Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a single-player game, you won’t be adventuring alone. "Kingmaker" features a diverse cast of companions and NPCs, including iconic characters from the Pathfinder setting itself. You’ll need to decide who to trust and who to watch carefully, as each companion has an agenda, alignment, and goals that may differ from yours. Your journey will become their journey, and you’ll help shape their lives both in the moment and well into the future.



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"We chose to adapt the Kingmaker adventure path because it features a host of open-world mechanics, allowing players to experience the story at their own pace as they explore the Stolen Lands, which will challenge you as both an adventurer and a ruler. Most importantly, the game allows you to claim these lands as your own, letting you carve your own kingdom from the wilderness. While classic dungeon crawling and exploration lie at the heart of this adventure, diplomacy, politics, and kingdom development are also part of the challenge. Choose your allies well, and keep them close while exploring ancient tombs and ruins — and while dealing with politics in your own court."
As you’ll discover, building a kingdom goes beyond simply building a stronghold: Your kingdom is a reflection of your character and your choices throughout the game. It is a living thing shaped by your alignment, your allies, and your ability to lead your people. Not only can your kingdom expand, opening up new territories and allowing you to build new towns and communities, but your capital city will physically change based on your decisions, your policies, and even whom you choose to ally with. As your kingdom grows, a number of factions and neighboring countries will come to you to seek favor—and to test your strength.



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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I played a bit of it this morning. It really is the Baldur’s Gate/Neverwinter Nights experience. I’m loving it.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
I'm only 6 hours in so far, but the game is extremely well done at this point. I'm a big fan of the Baldur's Gate series of games even though I much prefer turn-based to Real-time-with-pause (RTwP). It seems like they've somehow improved upon that here with the animations and auto-pause options lining up better than I remember them doing in BG. There are a few parts where it breaks out into a choose your own adventure style mini-game and all the character creation, leveling and equipment is perfectly by-the-book.

Pros:
- Closely resembles tabletop game with actual feats, spells, abilities, etc.
- Improved RTwP functionality
- Good graphics and sound
- Interesting companions so far with a fair amount of spoken dialog
- Nice writing. I can already see wanting to replay with different choices after just the first few hours, but after I finish my current playthrough
- Choose your own adventure mini-games
- Excellent way to handle group inventory
- Great camping implementation where you assign roles (hunting, guard duty, camouflaging the camp, cooking or guard duty) or assign special roles available to certain party members (sharpening weapons, polishing armor, summoning undead to help guard the camp)

Cons
- May be harder for non tabletop players
- Not turn-based (although their version of RTwP lessens this significantly)

As an example of how it would be considered hard, there is a part early on where you fight against swarms of something. The tabletop rules for swarms make them immune to pretty much anything other than area of effects. My party make-up ended up not having any of that sort of magic so I had to re-load an earlier save to pick up a ton of splash damage weapons.

Just like in the tabletop game, if you build poorly optimized characters, they are going to suffer. You may need to fight defensively at times or decide whether or not you will really be effective with ranged weapons combats that start fairly close. The game defaults to starting you off at an easier mode. I moved mine to Normal mode and full damage but I did actually employ a few features to make the game a bit easier.

I highly recommend turning on the following features (I don't remember the exact phrasing):

  • Remove ability damage and other negative effects upon a full rest
  • Defeated party members recover with minimal health after any battle (essentially you only fail if everyone dies)
 
This game is the result after a fashion, the mmo fell apart and the company went under. The license was snapped up and the new company made the Kingmaker RPG.
Not actually correct.

Pathfinder Online is something different. When Goblinworks folded Paizo took over the project
and has continued development in a slow burn process. They actually had an update on it at GenCon 2018.

Pathfinder Online only had the license for an MMO. Kingmaker is a different thing.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
Basically just like the Baldur's Gate games, but with better graphics and Pathfinder rules. At least so far.
"Just like the Balder's Gate" games" except single player only. Since two-player coop was my favorite aspect of the BG games, that's really a deal breaker for me. The closer I can get to having a video game feel like a tabletop experience, the happier I am.

Given the apparent adherence to Pathfinder rules and setup, the lack of coop is puzzling to me.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
"Just like the Balder's Gate" games" except single player only. Since two-player coop was my favorite aspect of the BG games, that's really a deal breaker for me. The closer I can get to having a video game feel like a tabletop experience, the happier I am.

Given the apparent adherence to Pathfinder rules and setup, the lack of coop is puzzling to me.
I didn’t even know Baldurs Gate could do that.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
I only ever played them on the PlayStation II, but both of the ones we had could be 2 player coop.
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance II for PS2 were completely different from the PC Baldur's Gate games in play style. Neither of them were ports of the PC game but instead were separate games set in the same area. If you've never played the PC Baldur's Gate games, you might want to check them out. There are newer enhanced versions available now that are updated versions of the originals.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I really do not look playing games on a PC, but this looks interesting enough to connect my PC to my TV, fire up my neglected Steam account and give it a shot.

Does this game work with a game controller or do I have to use a keyboard to play it. If it requires a keyboard, I'll probably skip it, no matter how good it is, and hope it is eventually release for the Switch or X-Box. Having to sit at a desk sucks all the fun out of a game for me.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
For someone who doesn't really care for Pathfinder but loved the Infinity Engine games, would you suggest this game.

Does the pathfinderiness overwhelm the BG/IWD/PS feel of the game or can a fan of those enjoy those even if they don't like how complicated the Pathfinder system is these days?
 

Burnside

Explorer
For someone who doesn't really care for Pathfinder but loved the Infinity Engine games, would you suggest this game.

Does the pathfinderiness overwhelm the BG/IWD/PS feel of the game or can a fan of those enjoy those even if they don't like how complicated the Pathfinder system is these days?
I'm a huge fan of the Infinity Engine games and have never played Pathfinder. I played this for about three hours last night and was impressed. It feels like a cross between a late Infinity Engine game and the first Bioware Neverwinter Nights game (in a good way). It's fun and addictive. My initial impression is that it's a more enjoyable game than Pillars of Eternity II, but I say that hoping it will become less linear after the first few hours.

I do think it would be a better game if the combat was turn-based.
 

evildmguy

Explorer
In the fwiw area, I also agree with people who are saying how good it is. After the opening, could be considered the tutorial, it's fairly open ended with how you travel. I have already found places that become important later and going back something else happens! That helps it feel dynamic to me.

I have been impressed with the choices in dialog and the clear way they say how it sounds, in terms of alignment. That is one of those things that previous games (like BG) almost had but seeing in effect like this? Makes me wonder why we didn't have it before. (Think of the prompts in the VtM:Bloodlines games where if you had certain abilities or skills, they highlight you will use them.)

My issue is that it isn't turn based. Playing the new BattleTech game from HBS, that showed how awesome a turn based game can be. I think that 3E/PF shines best in the turn based game. To me, that's makes it feel more like a tabletop game, where I can focus on the one character going, see what happens, and react to it. Further, there are so many spells and options that have to be set up and I am not good at this without it being turned based.

I am really impressed and enjoying the game!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I only ever played them on the PlayStation II, but both of the ones we had could be 2 player coop.
I think you’re talking about an entirely different game. The Baldurs Gate PC games had you managing a party of adventurers.
 

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