Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Owlcat Games
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018


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PC Preview - 'Pathfinder: Kingmaker'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 25, 2018 @ 3:30 a.m. PDT

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is an isometric computer RPG that will take players on a tour through the infamous Stolen Lands, the dangerous and turbulent territories well known within Pathfinder fandom.

Tabletop role-playing games have lived in the gaming consciousness since time immemorial. They were the original building blocks of the role-playing experience, and the tools players used are forever etched in memory: dice, dungeonmasters, pen and paper, sourcebooks, stats. These days, the tabletop RPG seems to exist on hallowed pop culture ground, where old-school players and A-list celebrities alike gather not for rounds of poker, but for the occasional saving roll.

At E3 2018, that aura of pure, retro geekism emanated from our preview demo of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, an isometric RPG based on the tabletop role-playing universe of the same name. The game's setting is within the Stolen Lands, where you start in the role of a customizable hero from one of a variety of classes: magic user, warrior, etc. The team at Owlcat Games crafted Pathfinder, and creative director Alexander Mishulin drove us through the finer points of the game's features.

Pathfinder isn't trying to reinvent itself in video game form. Instead, it gives its universe life through rich, detailed visuals and an experience that remains loyal to its original tabletop roots. Mishulin guided us around the map of the Stolen Lands with a classic point-and-click interface. Each of the heroes you use is packed with subtle detail. For instance, many of the weapons in a hero's inventory were visually accountable on his or her person. The stat-keeping sticks with the tabletop format, and you'll be able to keep tally of 11 companions in all, with up to six of them being part of your squad of adventurers.

As you travel, you have to take time to rest and set up camp. When you do that, you can send out hunters to grab food, camouflage your camp, tag someone to be the cook and even set up guards to watch over your group. Camping also provides moments of character development, as you see members of your party talk and interact with each other, as campers do to pass the time. Sometimes conversations are innocuous; other times, arguments get sparked.

As far as more storytelling goes, we're told that there are about 1 million words in the game, with many of those words coming from acclaimed game writer Chris Avellone. We saw that every encounter has options, and that every alignment (good, neutral, evil and all their variations) is stocked with its own brand of branching conversational options. Our demo also gave us a taste of some dungeon crawling. There's one dungeon per chapter in the game, and Mishulin says it'll take about three hours to fully explore each dungeon.

You can also become a local baron, expanding your reach to potentially the entire game map. Your fellow companions can actually be tasked to be part of your ruling team if you give them leadership positions and responsibilities. Of course, as things go in management, you can also anger them to the point where they just won't do what you say.

We also got to see how Pathfinder: Kingmaker handles difficulty. Rules are a big part of the tabletop experience, so the difficulty levels are as follows: simple, adopted, core rules, advanced rules, and insane. You can actually customize and adjust these rules across the board, we're told. The main quest itself can take anywhere between 40 to 80 hours, and there are seven different game endings, along with one "true" ending, but we weren't told what it would take to get it. If you're among those who want to find out, you'll get your chance to check out Pathfinder in late September.

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