Time for a closer look at two upcoming games and an unexpected DLC launch – we’re looking at Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, Distant Kingdoms and new the Japan DLC for Railway Empire.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous gets a release date
We’ve been with the Pathfinder franchise ever since Owlcat was scheduled to publish the first game through My.Com, and after the initial launch of the PC version we also dove into the console editions when the Definitive Edition came out last year. While that was being made/ported, Owlcat was also hard at work on the next game in the franchise – Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, which now has a release date! The game comes out on September 2nd and while there’s no Early Access version available it can already be wishlisted.
That doesn’t mean that fans aren’t already playing it though – those who backed the game’s development through either Kickstarter or Slacker now have access to the second beta version of the game, which includes the first four chapters of the game as a lengthy appetizer of what’s to come. We also got to play and can’t wait for September, as additional betas with more content aren’t expected between now and then.
We already saw plenty of signs that this will be another treat for Pathfinder fans, as the game stays true to its isometric gameplay style while adding a few new additions as well. A notable inclusion for the new beta is Crusade gameplay, which features turn-based tactical combat where you control armies at your disposal for a larger sense of scale than what we had in the first game.
Visually impressive is the new weather system, which makes outdoor areas feel much more alive and vibrant than the sometimes sterile locations in Pathfinder. The old school isometric perspective keeps it from looking as impressive as Baldur’s Gate 3, but old school fans who’ve enjoyed games like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity will find they’ll instantly appreciate the visual boost that Owlcat’s given the franchise for Wrath of the Righteous.
Obviously this wouldn’t be a Pathfinder game if it wasn’t rich in narrative content as well, but we’re going to refrain from discussing any of that until we can play through the entire story so we know which story beats fall into the heavy spoiler category and which are okay to share.
Distant Kingdoms launches into Early Access
Kasedo Games certainly isn’t the most prolific indie publisher out there, but between titles like Project Highrise, Rise of Industry, Mechanicus and Filament they’ve already shown they have an eye for quality. Their latest title, Distant Kingdoms, has just launched into Early Access, and is being developed by Orthrus Studios.
A city/civilization builder with strategic elements, Distant Kingdoms is set against a fantasy backdrop in the land of Talem. The gods have sent four different races off to a remote location to see if they earn a second chance after their civilizations crumbled. The game feels like a mix between Warcraft’s fantasy setting (and I mean old timey Warcraft) and the Anno series from Ubisoft, combining magical elements with the needs to build a thriving civilization and economy.
Distant Kingdoms also features an adventure-driven campaign full of quests and exploration. In its current Early Access form this is an underdeveloped and unimpressive element with simple choice-driven moments that don’t seem to majorly impact the gameplay, so it’ll be interesting to see how Orthus is going to build out this part over time.
And yes, this is an Early Access title in the city building/sim genre, so it’s hard to deliver vertical slices of gameplay and build out the game that was. Distant Kingdoms, as a result, still has plenty of little AI/pathfinding bugs, and it’s a good idea to keep checking out the game’s hotfixes and patch notes. But looking at Kasedo’s track record, we’ll certainly keep an eye out for this one.
New Japan DLC for Railway Empire
This one came rolling into the station as a bit of a surprise! After Kalypso released the Complete Collection of Railway Empire, we didn’t think we’d be seeing more DLC content for the game. Here is the very content-heavy Japan expansion though, which ironically makes the complete edition “not complete” anymore but does add a much-requested location to the game. It’s available for the PC, PS4 and Xbox versions of the game, and it’s out right now with a Switch version arriving a bit later.
The Japan DLC takes players back to the origins of what is now one of the world’s most advanced and efficient railroad systems, with two scenarios to play through. From the earliest beginnings in 1870 going to 1890, and one that spans the first two decades of the 20th century. Players will recognize famous landmarks including the Osaka Castle, Hells of Beppu and Itsukushima Shrine, and in free play/sandbox you can select between different map sizes.
Train buffs will recognize 8 historical engines including the D51 Degoichi and Class 9600 Kyuroku, but the biggest appeal of the new expansion for us was how it highlights a period of Japanese history that’s rarely explored in games: the early years of the industrial revolution on the island nation. A country where people used to live in feudal regions now sees its inhabitants flock to growing cities, bringing trade and using the railroad system to lay the foundation for an era of prosperity. With gameplay that ties into socio-economic changes this much, the Japan addition is easily one of our favorite expansions for Railway Empire so far. It’s a tad more expensive than previous DLCs, but absolutely worth it as a unique setting for the game.