Pathfinder: Kingmaker is just a few short weeks from release on the 25th, and I had the opportunity to get a comprehensive look at the game at PAX West. For those unaware, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the first isometric RPG to bring the Pathfinder pen and paper RPG into a video game. It’s inspired by Baldur’s Gate and Fallout 1 and 2, and features a story based on the Kingmaker adventure path from Pathfinder.
Exploration was something stressed to me when I was being shown some Pathfinder: Kingmaker. There’s a wide map with more than 200 areas to explore, and the developers want players to roam and check every nook and cranny they can find. There’s plenty to discover in sidequests, events, and more.
The game will have 11 companions that function in the ways you’d expect in an isometric RPG. They will react to your choices, comment on the current goings on, and more importantly continually weigh your character and party to see if they want to stick with you or not. Based on your choices, some characters may leave or go as far as betraying or attacking you.
The party is the focus of the game, and each companion will be totally unique from the other. You’ll get to use them for more than just dialogue options and combat, too. The first place you’ll see that is in the rest system. Instead of just a static screen where time passes, the party is healed, etc., resting in Pathfinder: Kingmaker is physically setting up camp. You’ll have the opportunity to give companions tasks like guarding the camp, camouflaging the camp, hunting, and more. These tasks change based on where you’re at too, as you’re more likely to run into enemies in a place like a dungeon, both when a companion is out hunting and on guard duty.
Governing a Kingdom
The other way to use companions comes in governing your kingdom. As this is “Kingmaker,” having and running a kingdom is a big part of the game. The best way to understand what all that entails comes from the game’s Steam description:
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.
Your companions play a key role in governing, serving as advisors and the actual people you task with carrying out your wishes. They will become intimately involved in the politics of your kingdom’s affairs, so understanding and using them to the best of your abilities will be an important part of Kingmaker‘s gameplay. Choosing who to send out with certain Kingdom events will be just as important as who to use in combat.
There are quite a few mechanics made for convenience, too. My personal favorite is that before you leave an area, you’ll get the opportunity to see all the loot left behind or missed from enemies you killed. From there you’ll get to keep what you want, which will help ensure you don’t miss something great. There’s also a story mode difficulty, which makes combat significantly easier and allows you to focus more on story and narrative decisions.
Finally, I saw a bit of the robust character creation system. When it comes to adapting a pen and paper RPG, there is likely no more important system in the entire game. The developer promises that you’ll have plenty of customization options, from the look of the character, to attributes, skills, and more. Basically, expect the process of creating a character in the pen and paper Pathfinder made in video game form. Another cool feature is the ability to upload your own portrait of a character. Owlcat said they recognized a lot of pen and paper players like to get portraits of their characters done and they wanted to give people the opportunity to make it part of the game.
That about sums up what was went over and what I saw. The last thing always worth reminding everyone is that the story is being helmed by Chris Avellone, who is credited with writing and designing some of the best games of all time, particularly isometric RPGs like Planescape: Torment and Baldur’s Gate.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker releases September 25th on PC, Mac, and Linux.
What do you think of Pathfinder: Kingmaker? Will you be looking into the game? If you were a Kickstarter backer, are you excited to see what the game has become?