Pathfinder: Kingmaker Preview: A CRPG That Lets You Build Your Own Kingdom

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Preview: A CRPG That Lets You Build Your Own Kingdom

The classic tabletop roleplaying experience has never died. People all over the world have gathered for years to live out roleplayed lives in fantastical settings and world saving campaigns. Building off of the rich world building from genre legends like J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeons and Dragons and its later cousin Pathfinder have taken the elves, beasts and fairies of lore and transformed them into living worlds where rather than read their outcomes, people can impact the course of the story. These experiences have continued in the video game medium, with modern CRPGs like Torment: Tides of Numenera, Pillars of Eternity, and Divinity Original Sin being based on sourcebook settings or taking heavy inspiration from them. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the next game in this digital sphere and is going right to the core of one of the tabletop genre’s most beloved settings, while bringing seminal genre talent along for the ride.

Genre: CRPG
Developed by: Owlcat Games
Published by: : My.com
Release date: Summer 2018
Platforms: PC
Websitehttps://owlcatgames.com/

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Features

  • JOURNEY TO THE STOLEN LANDS: Welcome to the Stolen Lands, contested territory for centuries. Defend yourself against the threats of wilderness and rival kingdoms as you explore a world rich with history, magic, and conflict.
  • COMPANION FOCUSED STORY: Experience the adventure alongside living and breathing companions, each with deep stories and decisions of their own. Love them, adore them or hate them for who they are.
  • CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Customize your character and companions with a multitude of options available in Pathfinder to make the perfect party capable of overcoming insurmountable challenges.
  • KINGDOM: Establish your kingdom in Stolen Lands, claim new territories, and build towns and cities. Be a wise ruler or a heavy-handed tyrant.

Story & Setting

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the first single player CRPG based on the Pathfinder tabletop RPG. It is based in the classic Pathfinder world of Golarion, which stands with the Forgotten Realms as one of the most beloved settings in tabletop history.

The game takes place in a region in the north called the Stolen Lands, which has been contested for years as hundreds of kingdoms have vied for control of the land. You will be playing the role of kingdom maker, as you weather the harsh landscape, threatening neighbors and betrayal. 

Fans of the setting will encounter familiar characters from the universe as well as new faces and events based on the Pathfinder Adventure Path of the same name. The team at Owlcat have worked with the Pathfinder publisher Paizo to enhance the original and have landed a coup by adding acclaimed RPG author Chris Avellone to the mix to handle narrative design of the story and the quests. This should get fans of engaging questing in a lather, as Avellone has worked on legendary RPGs like Fallout 2, Planescape and Baldur’s gate and his presence adds instant credibility to any project. Oh, and famed composer Inon Zur has done the main musical theme. All of this makes it practically the greatest RPG ever already. But I’ll check my bias for now.

You will have to make choices of which companions to ally with as each character will have their own agenda in the game. The Pathfinder Adventure Paths are a series of narrative adventures for the tabletop game that are published by Paizo and come with supplements that flesh out the setting, mechanics and monsters of that particular story arc. When developing the game, Owlcat chose the Kingmaker Adventure Path because it featured mechanics that lent itself to open world play at your own pace. This particular path is a 6 part adventure.

Gameplay

The game unfolds in classic isometric perspective and is designed around game mechanics that promote freedom to develop your own unique character. The character you create can be molded via a wide variety of classes and powers, spells, abilities, skills and feats which are all mechanics fans of both CRPG and tabletop games will immediately slip into like a comfy hoodie. The fundamental approach is to build the hero or villain you want and rule your kingdom the way you want.

As you play the game you will begin to claim the lands of the region as your own through classic dungeon crawling and exploration. You will be engaging in diplomacy and leading troops and allies into battle as you further stake your claim to a kingdom.

Your kingdom will be an ever changing entity that will reflect the choices you have made throughout the course of the game. Your alignment, allies and how you act as ruler will impact the quality of your kingdom. Through this you can expand your kingdom by opening new territories and building new towns. Your capital city will be where the most physical changes are seen from your choices. The more dynamic your kingdom grows, the more attention you will draw from factions and neighboring nations, some of which will seek peace while others will seek to challenge you. You can fail and watch your kingdom fall into ruin if you don’t make the right choices or can’t defend your actions.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker will have 14 regions you can add to your kingdom and as you play the game, there will be around 300 random kingdom events to experience and make decisions on. This kind of kingdom building you don’t see often, and the player freedom it boasts is a perfect fit for a CRPG that put a heavy emphasis on playing who and how you want.

When it comes to what’s inside the package, the game features a ton of the same features you will find in a Pathfinder tabletop campaign. For those more familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, it’s very similar, as the Pathfinder setting got its start as an adaption for Dungeons and Dragons’ 3rd edition, making it compatible with 3.5E.

In the “box”, you will have access to more than 10 classes across 7 different races from the setting, that all allow for a considerable amount of customization and roleplaying freedom. Once you’ve chosen your basic makeup you will be able to choose from over 400 feats and class abilities to refine your gameplay.

You will have access to your standard array of gear and armory of weapons and armor to outfit your character. For the magic inclined there will be over 300 spells to choose from. And of course, no classic roleplaying experience is complete without magical items which are some of the more fun pieces of equipment you can have. Pathfinder: Kingmaker will feature over 500 of them to play around with whether for benevolence or your own selfish gain.

The bestiary of Pathfinder: Kingmaker will feature over 100 monsters from the classic monster manual, giving players a chance to experience in living color some of the more classic beasts in lore. Sure the mind’s eye is well and good during a tabletop session but there is a fresh bit of fun in seeing these monsters come to digital life.

The game has already exceeded its Kickstarter funding goal of 500,000 USD, which wasn’t to fund the making of the game, but to add the kingdom making gameplay covered in this preview. Presently they have 2 stretch goals revealed, which will add camping and a new magus class.

As the first single player game set in the Pathfinder setting of Golarion, Pathfinder: Kingmaker has all the elements to do it justice. With genre greats contributing talents and a focus on options and mechanics the game is already shaping up to be a strong modern CRPG. If the kingdom building feature is robust and gratifying, it could make the game an instant genre classic, and help make the case for even more tabletop settings being brought to digital life.


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Editor at Fextralife. I look for the substantial in gaming and I try to connect video games to the emotions and stories they elicit. I love all things culture and history and have an odd fondness for the planet Jupiter. I think my dogs are pretty awesome too.

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2 comments on “Pathfinder: Kingmaker Preview: A CRPG That Lets You Build Your Own Kingdom”

  1. Avatar TSMP says:

    I was wondering how long it’d take them to do this. Pathfinder always kind of felt like it wanted to be a video game more than a tabletop RPG. Although, being a medium where the audience participates in the story, video games aren’t all that far removed from tabletops in theory. The only real differences are video games have hardware-based limitations such as restricted player control and not enough raw processing power to make a large, fluid world. Give it another twenty years and they might end up being practically indistinguishable.

  2. Avatar Emergence says:

    I actually expect a division when a tabletop setting comes to video games. I think both mediums are different and do certain things well, so my enthusiasm comes from seeing the setting realized in digital form rather than what can it do for me to replicate the table, which to be honest, I’m still not sure why that desire exists. With stuff like roll 20, the mind’s eye tabletop game is able to be played with people all over the world. Video games are so finite by definition of their software, it’s tough to imagine them ever accommodating imagination.


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