Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition preview (PS4)

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is heading to consoles soon with a Definitive Edition of the game, and we got a sneak peek at what to expect.

What we know

The PC version of Pathfinder: Kingmaker was launched back in 2018 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It was originally scheduled to launch through online games specialist My.com, but later picked up by Koch Media. A console release was planned for 2019, but will now see the light of day in the shape of a Definitive Edition fairly soon – the release date having just been announced as August 18.

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What we saw

With the industry not able to host large physical events at the moment, we were treated to a hands-off demo of the PlayStation 4 version of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, running on a PS4 development kit. The session was played and narrated by Alexander Mischulin, Creative Director for developer Owlcat, and streamed live during a recent session set up by publisher Koch Media.

What we thought

The demo for the console version of Pathfinder: Kingmaker showed off two important elements in particular: gamepad-enabled controls and a brand new turn-based approach to combat – which was of the real-time variety in the original PC release.

What’s interesting to note is that gamepad controls aren’t going to be exclusive to the new console builds, but will also make it into a patch for the PC version so that gamers who prefer a gamepad or want to play the PC version from the comfort of their couch can do so if they want. That patch is due to launch when the console version comes out, so the experience will be similar on all platforms.

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The PC patch is also bringing the turn-based mode, which was inspired by a popular mod for the game, to existing players. We saw the mode in action during a variety of confrontations that showcased some of the mechanics that are new for the mode – these include postponing a turn for a character, as well as options for strategic positioning that aren’t as easy to pull off when playing in real-time. Those who are fond of games like XCOM should definitely find something that will resonate with them in the new console version and the corresponding PC patch.

What’s also new to the console version is the ability to control your party using direct control with a thumbstick – rather than using a system where a mouse click shows them where to go and who to attack. You’re also no longer using mouse clicks to select your responses in the many conversations that Pathfinder: Kingmaker has.

Our impression was that Owlcat’s RPG is of course still a title with clear PC roots, but games like Pillars of Eternity have shown us that these can work quite well on a console system and Pathfinder: Kingmaker seems to have been adapted well with the target system in mind. It might be intended for a niche crowd, but those who fall into it should definitely keep an eye out for this one.

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