About three years after first laying eyes on the game, much has changed for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It’s out now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in a Definitive Edition, complete with all of the DLC that launched post-release as well as a new way to play the game. Here’s our review, based on the PS4 edition.
Those who follow the table top scene no doubt know about Pathfinder’s origins as a game that stemmed from the old school variants of Dungeons & Dragons, and how it’s developed a loyal following as well as a rich universe all of its own. This is part of the reason that the videogame version of Pazio games’ franchise was so eagerly anticipated, and it was fairly well received when it launched on PC back in 2018.
Since then, a selection of story-driven DLC has been added to an already story-rich base game, and all of that has made it into the console version as well – offering excellent value if you never jumped on the PC version. Both the base game and the DLC packs are rooted firmly in the table top rules though, and a videogamer’s enjoyment of Pathfinder can thus partly depend on how well versed they are in its origins and rules – be prepared for a steep and harsh learning curve otherwise.
Pathfinder is especially strong when it comes to character customization, applying unique abilities even to otherwise stereotypical classes. You can also heavily customize the gameplay experience itself, which helps a ton with the accessibility for newcomers to the game. I haven’t played the original PC game since it launched, but I believe these options have been expanded upon since then, making this a good time to jump aboard or get back in if you felt overwhelmed the first time around.
As we mentioned in our original review, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is heavy on dialogue, and your options branch out from there as well. What helps is that the voice acting for the game is excellent and that character and the game world have been well defined – the choices you make in conversations and even combat really do matter here. This encourages future playthroughs, though this is a massive game that will eat up a lot of your time even on a single run of the campaign.
But as we discovered during our recent preview, the Definitive Edition of the game also features a brand new way to engage with combat: a turn-based mode, which stems from the modding community and hails back to the game’s original table top rules. I remember finding myself pausing the (real time) action quite a bit in the PC release, so this was a more than welcome change that I was happy to play around with.
There is a also an option to toggle between real time and turn-based combat on the fly, which is great when you feel like you’re doing enough to secure victory and just want the AI to take over. Alternatively, you can switch off real time combat when you feel like you need your tactics to help turn the tide. It’s almost a bit ironic that this mode is released with the console versions (though PC owners get it as well, with a patch), since playing turn-based feels quite a bit like controlling a mouse cursor with your gamepad – but in a slower-paced game like this I didn’t feel like this was much of an issue, especially because I was already comfortable with the PC controls.
Because Pathfinder, with its isometric perspective, isn’t the most visually taxing game, it translates very well to consoles in terms of performance. While it feels like it was initially built for PC, it’s a great conversion and those without access to a gaming PC should have a great time with it if they affinity for the Pathfinder franchise or feel interested in jumping in.