Pathfinder: Kingmaker Previews

Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Owlcat Games' Infinity Engine-inspired Pathfinder cRPG, is now less than a month away from its September 25, 2018 release. And if you'd like to know how the game is shaping up, you may want to check out a couple of fresh previews based on the demo presented during this year's Gamescom. First, there's PC Gamer with a detailed look at one of the game's side quests and an overview of its robust combat system:

Instead of following a main story thread, I was dropped into an area with a full party of six to wander around and get a feel for traversal and combat. My earliest encounter demonstrated the various ways a situation can play out. Two warring factions of Mites, goblin-like creatures pitied by even the lowest social classes in Pathfinder, were squaring off in a field getting ready to brawl as I happened upon them. Both sides itching for my aid, they shared the details of their petty squabble. My dialogue options gave me a lot of leeway—I could inquire further about the situation, decide to side with one of the factions, or insist that it wasn’t my fight. Not knowing enough about either faction, I chose neutrality.

Later on, when exploring the caves inhabited by the Mite victors, I met up with a few of them that had caged up a helpless prisoner from the enemy side. Since I’m not a complete monster, I was able to turn this into a teaching moment for the Mites about cruelty towards their enemy. The lowest of the low have to stick together, after all.

Character alignment plays a big role in the dialogue options you’ll have. As a lawful neutral person, I mostly only had access to neutral options, with some that skewed good or evil. Repeatedly making those choices will slowly move the needle on my alignment over time. It’s neat to see such a faithful representation of alignment that doesn’t feel black and white. There’s a level of nuance and opportunity for neutrality that isn’t often represented in RPGs. I don’t have to be a grand hero or a villain, just someone trying to make it in the world. It’s also appropriate for the premise of building your own kingdom, where a certain level of neutrality could be what your people need to survive.

And then, there's GamesRadar+ with a preview that features plenty of quotes from Chris Avellone and Alexander Mishulin:

Having never played the original tabletop game myself, I asked Mishulin to explain what makes it stand out from other fantasy RPGs. "It's a world filled with very interesting subsettings that somehow connect together," he says. "It allows you to transition from being in standard medieval fantasy, to go to France in the Renaissance period, then go fight some mummies, then explore a spaceship. It's very crazy. The [video] game is focused on one Adventure Path that's more contained and just references some of this stuff - but when you're playing on the table, you can experience a lot of different things in one fantasy."

Even in my short time with the Kingmaker demo, it was immediately clear that it'll please anyone who's enjoying the recent Western RPG renaissance. The isometric view gives you a good sense of the action, as you position your custom hero and AI companions during the real-time combat, which can be paused at any time so you can plot out your preferred tactics. Dice rolls happen behind the scenes to determine your prowess in a fight, or when performing actions in the world like defusing traps (something I failed to do during one attempt, resulting in a mist of poison gas enveloping my poor party). It instantly evokes classic PC RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Fallout 2, and Planescape: Torment - all of which just so happen to be part of Avellone's prolific body of narrative and design work.


But this isn't a one-to-one recreation of the original Adventure Path, and Kingmaker explores plenty that goes beyond the book. "Any changes or alterations - 'Hey, we'd like to add this, or we're thinking about taking this character in this direction' - we just talked it over with Paizo, and they were pretty cool," says Avellone. "I think it just helped knowing a lot about Pathfinder in the first place, because that meant that a lot of our suggestions [garnered a response like] 'Oh, we see where you're going with that, and because you understand the universe, that proposal makes a lot of sense to us.'" If you're a Pathfinder veteran, you'll be pleased to know that Kingmaker includes extensive character customization (complete with classic alignment matrix of Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic and Good/Neutral/Evil), 145 locations, 100 monster types, and all the races from the core game (plus the Aasimar for good measure).