At E3 2018 we sat down with Pathfinder: Kingmaker’s Creative Director Alexander Mishulin to hear (and see) what fans and supporters will get to experience following the game’s huge Kickstarter campaign.
For those who don’t know, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a crowdfunded isometric RPG which is set in the world of Golarion, Pathfinder’s world. The game itself actually comes from Dungeons & Dragons’ 3.5 edition of the popular tabletop game. At the event, we were introduced to a demo which showed off the first chapter of the game.
Mushulin explained what was happening during the playthrough as well as detailing exactly what we can expect from the rest of the game.
“I was sent to reclaim this land and I was promised interesting fights with bandits and monsters. We’ll see just one part of the global map but the whole thing is rather big and will take up a lot of time to explore all of it. I want to show you as I chase down one of the villains from the prologue of the game.
“It’s an isometric CRPG. You can zoom in on characters, all in 3D but still isometric. The character sheet is very complex and is very true to the tabletop experience, so there are skills, class progression and abilities which you gain through level ups. It can get very complex for multi-class characters so if you’re really into the system you can build pretty much whatever you like.”
“You won’t be bothered by a lot of choices, mechanics if you’re not into this.”
This of course could seem very complex, especially for new players unfamiliar with D&D mechanics, however Mushulin explains that players can progress without getting too involved in the game’s mechanics.
“For those that want to delve deep into the story without bothering with mechanics, all companions can come without a level up option if you don’t want to bother about that and your character you can select from presets if you’d rather avoid that too. You won’t be bothered by a lot of choices, mechanics if you’re not into this.”
As with many CRPGs, Pathfinder: Kingmaker will offer several ways for players to get involved or tackle stories. One example we saw was the ability to find out more about a conflict between two tribes, or simply just leave them to it.
“In this region there are two tribes and as you can see here they’re warring and fighting each other. I am witnessing one of these conflicts now. I can attack them outright, or I can go and dig deep and work out what’s really happening. There are plenty of options, like taking advice from my companions. I have a special option in the conversation because of my skills so I can say ‘this fight isn’t mine, please carry on and do what you like – I am neutral in this’.
Skills will also play a key part in telling the game’s story, some skills will also unlock more dialogue options among other things, however for hardcore players out there there’s a mode that’ll completely remove any prompts or hints at how players can unlock different opportunities, if they miss out, tough.
“[Skill-based dialogue] would appear saying what skill it requires in red, but you would still see that it’s an option. There is an option in the game to play in expert mode when no information is shown and you’re completely role-playing. But usually, there will be a line saying you missed this opportunity. Expert option just wouldn’t show you what skill was needed if you didn’t have it.”
In Pathfinder: Kingmaker players will be given the option to rest at camps, however not all camps are ideal resting spots. Mushulin showed us a camp which was currently host to two corpses which had died from horrific burns. This told us that while we could rest there, something just isn’t right.
“There’s a body there and by passing a check I can see that he died of burns while very scared. There is another guy who is dead from the same issue. I can try to rest here but it’s not a great idea to rest where several guys have clearly died. If you do, a very powerful monster will appear which you can try to fight. But most probably my party will die. You can always come back when you’re more powerful and try to destroy it.”
Speaking of death in Pathfinder: Kingmaker: “It depends on your difficulty settings,” Mushulin explained. “In story mode, you will lose the game if every character in your party is dead after the fight. If not, they will come back and you can continue adventuring. On the more difficult levels your character will be given the requirement to rest and recover. If you die the second time, the character will be really dead and you’ll need to get scrolls to resurrect him or her. On higher difficulties, it works just like the table top game. When you’re dead you have to resurrect the character otherwise you will stay dead. But to get that, you’d need to drop below negative constitution score, it would be quite difficult to do but it’s possible.”
“in difficult fights attacking the enemy will not be enough.”
As for the combat which players can expect to see in Pathfinder: Kingmaker, it’s real-time with a “static pause”. This allows players to tactically plan combat on the fly while also experiencing it in real time. Combat itself is more than just unleashing attacks, too. Players will need to learn from their enemies and counter attacks and skills with spells to buff and deuff.
“So right now I am pausing and I can cast a spell here. When I return to real time my character will cast the spell where I requested. Also the fighting is according the AI, so if it’s simple they can work it out themselves. But in difficult fights attacking the enemy will not be enough. I’d need to choose the right spells to cast buffs and debuffs on the party. You need to have a strategy. In simple fights it will just be a cast of basic attacks and not wasting time, energy or resources.”
Aside from combat, the game will also give players their own kingdom to govern and eventually grow by acquiring more regions. Their kingdoms will offer events for players to take part in using their party to solve problems. Players won’t however lose that character from their party, but the member won’t be able to work on other kingdom-related tasks.
“Eventually you will be given a kingdom and you will be able to govern it. I have claimed two regions in this demo but will be able to claim it all into the kingdom eventually. You won’t be governing alone, your companions will be helping and they’ll still have their own characteristics even off the battlefield. For example, one character is managing this area and she is hyper-local focused so she will be resolving events in a lawful way. If I were to change the regent to another character, for example a peaceful character, she won’t deal with issues as decisively or with as strong a hand.
“You will experience events. So, for example, in this event three merchants have come to the region. They have an issue so I can set my regent to intervene and solve it. She will spend seven days and I will get a result after that. She’ll still continue to adventure with me while she’s working through the problem. She can’t do any other kingdom tasks in this time though.”
Mushulin also said that we can expect the game to take players around 40 to 80 hours to complete depending on how much they want to explore of the game, which is pretty impressive.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is set to launch “late summer” this year.