by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
From Tabletop to the Digital Front
The fantasy roleplaying tabletop game Pathfinder has an interesting history and a huge following despite only being eight years old. It’s essentially an extended version of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, and is popular among RPG players worldwide. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is set in this universe, and it’s a single player isometric roleplaying game in the same style as classics of the genre like Baldur’s Gate.
The developers say there are three main pillars to the game: Combat, Story, and Kingdom. The combat takes place in real time but you are able to pause at any point to line up commands. So, you’re able to see your fighters casting spells and swinging weapons, but you’ll also be able to pause the action to set up a specific sequence of events, such as casting a certain spell, or moving around to get better positioning on your enemies. You will of course be able to select from all the various classes and their specific archetypes when creating a character. There are around 500 spells and abilities in the game, and fans of the tabletop game have been promised they will be able to enter their favourite character builds from the pen and paper version into the video game version.
The way you build your party, and the way you approach combat encounters is important. The first real scuffle I got into against an opponent more dangerous than a group of lowly guards went very poorly for me, resulting in a complete wipe. After reloading, I took more care with positioning, and used spells and abilities which complemented each other and took advantage of the enemies’ weaknesses. I came out the other side of the combat with barely a scratch.
Paths To Success
As with all games of this type, there will be a vast, open story with a main narrative but many side quests to be found along the way. Your choices affect outcomes of certain situations and may have much further reaching effects. Every choice you make can affect your alignment, ranging from good to evil and lawful to chaotic. You will be interacting with NPCs and the other players in your party, and their opinion of you may change as time progresses and your deeds speak for you.
For example, do you slay the hill giant, a normally aggressive creature? Or do you realise he’s depressed, hungover, and simply searching for his mate, and craft extra booze for him? When you happen across a man in the woods doing research on why ogres are becoming resistant to fire damage, something they’re normally weak to, do you reprimand him for capturing and torturing a living thing, or congratulate him for his good work?
Your kingdom is where you rule, and although it starts out as a small place in the grand scheme of things, you will have important decisions to make over the course of the campaign. It too will reflect your decisions made out in the world, and it takes on a story of its own. If you start making evil decisions, you may see some dastardly and nefarious activities on the streets. You can also make decisions in the creation of new settlements. You could try building a lot of thieves guilds and black markets. Your legal economy won’t be doing too well, but once your black markets kick in, your income could go through the roof.
Lots of potential
There’s a great deal of flexibility in terms of how you can build your characters, and the way your characters act when they’re out adventuring. The game is due for release in 2018, so there’s plenty more time for new additions and tweaks too. There’s a lot of potential here for Pathfinder: Kingmaker to soon be recognised alongside the likes of Baldur’s Gate in the tomes of RPG history.