Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is a new RPG (role playing game) for PS4 and XBox One. The game hit stores on August 18, 2020. The video game is designed by Paizo Publishing, Owlcat Games, and Deep Silver. This game originally came out for PC’s in 2018, and had 6 expansions. Console owners can now enjoy the full game and all the expansions in one nice package!
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a single-player RPG experience based on the popular Pathfinder series. The Pathfinder RPG was first published in 2009, and is based on the rules of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) version 3.5.
The pen & paper version of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a very deep game. The newest Core Rulebook is 640 pages long. And Kingmaker does its very best to emulate the tabletop experience of the roleplaying game.
I have played several pen & paper RPGs over the years and I have played numerous computer and console versions of RPGs. I actually owned “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” on my old Intellivision console in the early 1980’s. And let me tell you, things have come a long way! This is what a Dungeons and Dragons Intellivision dungeon crawl looked like in 1983:
And this is what a Pathfinder RPG dungeon crawl looks like today:
Pathfinder: Kingmaker seems like a perfect game for our times since COVID-19 has a lot of us staying home. I think a lot of people are missing gaming nights with their friends. And I think a lot of people are missing the role playing experience with their friends as well. Pathfinder: Kingmaker gives you a lot of the joy you may be missing on game nights, because this game is packed with RPG goodness:
- Good storyline? Check! There is a very enjoyable storyline here.
- Create and customize your own characters? Check! You can choose from more than 1000 different abilities, skills, spells and feats! The character creation is phenomenal for old school RPG’ers!
- Puzzle solving? Check!
- Dungeon crawling? Check!
- Quests? Check!
- Real time fighting? Check!
- Option for turn-based fighting? Check! And I love this new feature!
- Good graphics? Check! I think the graphics are fantastic. You are looking top down, just like you would if you were sitting at a board game table with friends.
- Has a paper RPG feel? Check! I think the designers did a fantastic job here. If you are fighting in tight quarters, only the people on the front lines can physically swing their swords. The only people that might be able to attack from behind are the casters.
- Voice actors? Check! And the voice acting is very well done.
- Good Music? Check! Sweeping epic background music provides a great setting.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker has many degrees of difficulty: Story, Easy, Normal, Challenging, Hard, Unfair as well as a Custom option. I am playing the game on Normal, and it still feels punishing at times. I can’t even imagine what the 3 harder difficulties are like?!
Pathfinder: Kingmaker has 5 Premade Starting Characters – Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, and Cleric. Or you have the option to create your own.
Here is an example of the Character Creation Screen. For those that love character building in RPG’s, you have it in tremendous detail in this game. I attempted to build a Dwarf Paladin here:
I love how the game has skill checks while traveling. Here is an example:
Here is a look at the Character Equipment Screen:
Here is a quick look at the World Map. Your Pathfinder Characters will move along premade paths. But you decided which way to turn. Random encounters happen on the road like all RPG’s. You sometimes have the option to avoid these battles.
And here is a look at a typical dungeon fight. You have the option of fighting turn-based, or automated real time.
My Pathfinder: Kingmaker Experience
Pojo Note: A new patch was recently released after my initial review below. I had some criticism in my original review of several bugs. My game would freeze and crash about once per hour. Patch 1.01 was released on 8-18-20 and fixed most these problems. So, I have edited my original review to reflect these changes.
As I write this review, I have been playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker for about 20 hours, and it has been “frustratingly fun”. Why so?
One reason for the frustration is that there is not much hand-holding here. You and your character are basically tossed into the deep end of the pool, and you have to sink or swim. You will have to figure out the console gamepad controls very quickly on your own. There is no “Nintendo-like” learning curve where the game designers slowly ramp you up and teach you the controls one by one. The game is so deep that it will take you hours to actually learn all the amazing stuff you can do here. I watched plenty of videos of YouTube gameplay from the PC game to learn the proper way to play. If you are an experienced RPG’er, you will have a feeling you can do something and will figure it out. If you are a total newbie to detailed RPG’s, this might be overwhelming at first.
Players that know pen & paper character building will have a blast every time a character dings a new level. Players that don’t know how to build characters will be overwhelmed with all the choices available to them. Allocating ability points and choosing spells when characters level might be mind-boggling to newcomers. Linzi is one of the first players you obtain in your party. She is a “buffing” bard. But, as you level, you can multiclass her into: a Tank, a Crossbowman, a Rogue, an Eldrich Knight, etc. Thank the stars that there are some fantastically helpful youtubers out there for you!
The game is open world, and the designers don’t really tell you what you should do next. Do you need to get 6 characters in your party ASAP? Should you hunt down Tuskgutter with 4 characters? Can you run the first dungeon with 4 characters? Can you attack the first bandit camp with 4 characters? The decision is ultimately yours, and I bet you will die more than a few times. You will feel like Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” – You will die and keep coming back for more.
The controls are all there, but using the controller can feel wonky at times. This game was originally designed as a PC game, which I didn’t play. But, I assume the PC mouse and keyboard controls are a little easier to use than a game controller. All the controls are here, but there is a learning curve to using the controller properly. In your first “dungeon”, you need to separate your party, and make two different characters stand on two different pillars in order to open a hidden door. It frustratingly took me a long time to figure out how to do this. You have to individually tell characters to “hold” their position by the way. 😉
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Final Thoughts
Now, even after all my beefs, I am still loving this game. You have to be a glutton for punishment in RPG’s at times.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker has a very cool pen & paper RPG feel. Your attacks are basically automatic dice rolls. You roll to see if your attack will hit, and how much damage it will do. Patch 1.01 even shows your dice rolls on the screen. This really gives you that cool tabletop feeling you might be craving.
Personally, I felt compelled to build my team from one character to 4 characters to 6 characters very quickly after many deaths. I ignorantly tried to tackle difficult dungeons with 4 characters early on and was throttled by Skeleton Warriors, Giant Spiders, Poisonous Frogs and Mite Priests. Luckily (?) for me, I was attacked by slavers – and I was promptly defeated. Later I went back to their camp while they were sleeping for revenge and freed the slaves, and two free slaves joined my party. Victory!!!
If you enjoy RPG’s like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Dragon Quest, Grandia, Skies of Arcadia, etc, then you will probably love this game. There is a lot of gameplay here if you enjoy epic sagas. I was visiting howlongtobeat.com, and it says it takes 80 hours to beat the main story. I’m about 20 hours in and I have only beat 1% of the game so I have a long way to go.
If you are a pen & paper Pathfinder player, then buying this game is basically a no-brainer. This will help get you through these crappy COVID times. Hopefully we can all get back to our board game tables again in 2021!
Pojo Tips if you decide to pick up this game
- Save Often. You will make mistakes and you will want to go back after you have learned from your mistakes. You basically want to save every time you win a battle.
- Keep your torches early in the game. I had this crazy hard fight against spider swarms. You can’t hit them with melee weapons. I had no casters in my party. But torches actually hit them for 1 damage. This ping damage will add up enough to eventually win the battle.
- Watch some YouTube videos. There are some great “Things I wish I knew before I started playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker” videos out there.
- If you are losing fights in Real Time Mode, switch to Turn Based Mode. You have more control healing your characters with potions and spells.
- If you are having trouble in “Normal” mode, consider turning the game down to “Easy” mode until you figure out battle technics and character building.
- Considering picking up the pen & paper Pathfinder Core Rulebook. Paizo has put together a tremendous resource for you there.