My thoughts after finishing Pathfinder: Kingmaker

I recently finished the game. I played 252 hours on normal difficulty and most of it with effortless kingdom management. My characters, no mercenaries, were level 19, almost 20, before the last battle.
I usually don’t give my opinion online after playing a game, but in this case I wanted to try to write down my most important points I could think off, because I backed Wrath if the Righteous on KickStarter, and I want it to be even better.
I do think this is the best CRPG I have ever played. Better than Divinity Original Sin. Better than Pillars of Eternity. And better than Baldur’s Gate. However it’s far from perfect of course.

  1. I liked pretty much every part of the CRPG. I liked the difficulty spikes. I like that the classes and builds are not balanced. This is all about making that cool team of 6 characters that have great synergies and have their special role in your party. Finding loot, lots of cool powerful loot, and dividing them among your characters in the best way. The customization options are almost endless. I tried to do the builds myself mostly. At least for my main party Valerie, Amiri, Linzi, Tristian, Octavia and at the end Ekundayo. My main was a Paladin, which I felt was a great choice. I would like the feat tree to be visible inside the game, otherwise you cannot properly plan which feats you can take. I had to look for that online, and I don’t like having to read some WIKI a lot while playing a game. I did appreciate the respec option.

  2. Although the CRPG part was great, I did not find much enjoyment in the kingdom building part. At first it was just confusing. But even when I understood everything I still felt it was weak. Many game mechanics were not important, and might as well not have been there. For example small bonusses from building being in the right place compared to what you get from events. Or kingdom income being so low, it has little effect compared to BP you can get from selling your magic weapons. Maybe it matters on higher difficulty, but I thought it was already annoying enough like this. Probably the most confusing part for me is that you can send advisors on events, yet you are still able to bring them on your adventures. The kingdom building, including the event/curse/project management made the game weaker. The only parts I liked was making decisions in the throne room, and the artisans. I think 100 hours could have been cut from the game, and it would have been a better game.

  3. I don’t like the time pressure in the game. Or better said, you don’t know how much time pressure there is because there is no calendar overview with deadlines. For me personally, I would have enjoyed it more if I could do the exploration without having to think about efficiency. However, if you do put an element of deadlines in a game, then please give me insight in the data, to remove the feeling of uncertainty.

  4. Perhaps this is not so much a complaint about the game, but instead about Pathfinder. I feel there are too many weapon types. Not all weapon types have great magical weapons in the game. There is no way to know this when starting, so you have to get just lucky to made the right weapon type choice at the start. Respec does help fortunately.

  5. Hiding the true endings of the main story and Tenebrouw Depths behind RNG I felt was very unpleasant. I mean, it’s okay if we are talking about a short game, but this one is huge! I did get the satisfying ends I wanted. But I did need maps from Tenebrouw Depths from a website open at all times, and a save editor to ‘fix’ a missed dialogue option. Witcher 3 for me is an example of good game design how a big game with choices and multiple endings can be made.

  6. I actually also felt that there were a few too many situations where I had to make choices in dialogues and outside, but I did not quite understand what the implications would be. The most memorable choice was when I wanted to join Amiri to travel to help her with the invasion, but she insisted I did not come with her. So I thought, fine, then I’ll help Tristian first, and then go to Amiri, thinking that this is what the game wanted me to do. I felt this was misleading and felt tricked by the game.

  7. It’s not often that I enjoy reading a lot of text, but I loved the writing in this game, especially in Linzi’s book. I really enjoyed reading the stories from her perspective. It also helped that there was a great voice actor that fit her personality.

  8. Some technical remarks.

  • The game minimizes in bordeless window mode when I click on my other monitor. When I want to look stuff online it’s annoying that it keeps minimizing.
  • The GPU usage is way too high for these graphics on 60Hz. And it runs even hotter when minimized.
  • Only the last fight has an unplayable framerate for me. Luckily my characters were so strong that they did not need much micromanagement. Of course it doesn’t feel very epic when you get a framerate below 10 fps.
  1. Misc.
  • Let me cast spells in town.
  • Let me organize my toolbars in town

Nice detailed summary of your play-through. Glad that you stuck with it to the end.

I couldn’t agree more. Balance is necessary for a lot of multiplayer games but in singleplayer games, especially big RPGs like Kingmaker, it can streamline the fun out of playing. Too many RPGs these days make that mistake unlike most pre-2005 RPGs where you could completely break the game if you wanted.

I’d love it if they formatted all the information like Wikipedia with links and subpages that make is easy to tell what something does, what prerequisites it has, and what things are dependent on it. Having to alt-tab every five seconds to properly plan a build is annoying.

They probably did this because of the frequency of these events and how long they took. I would rather they did it like Pillars of Eternity where the companion you send out is out of commission until they come back from their mission and then make events less frequent or shorter to account for that. Even better would be to just have at least two non-companion advisors for each role so that you’re not forced to either use companions as an advisor or leave the slot empty.

I’m pretty sure you can just set the management to auto and not bother with it. I loved the kingdom management but it wasn’t as fleshed out as I’d like and, like you said, a lot of it didn’t seem to really matter. I’m glad they’re going to be putting more effort into the management aspect for WotR.

Yeah, it was annoying when I would be told that I needed to hurry to do something and so I rushed to it but then it turned out that either there was no actual deadline or the deadline was months away. What was even worse was when I didn’t know there was a deadline and missed it. I want them to put clear timers on all missions with deadlines in WotR but also have an option to turn them off for people who want more immersion.

Yeah, they need better vendors, more diverse drops, and possibly even some kind of crafting system for WotR. It sucked being a religious character and trying to use my deity’s sacred weapon but rarely finding any high level variants of it, like Desna with the starknife.

I didn’t play Tenebrous Depths but the secret ending for the main game wasn’t reliant on RNG.

God, yes.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

There are two conversations with Tartuk and Armag and you need to pass a certain skill check in at least one. Of course you might never have realized that it is important in the story unless you happen to read a discussion about it online.

That’s true, and 90% of the time I play high CHA characters.

During level up you can let the UI show you all the feats that are in the game. If you really want to plan, just make a new charakter and check all the feats during character creation.

That’s what I ended up doing. I even had a dummy save where I used the Bag of Tricks mod to simulate a max level character and then planned my builds on a spreadsheet but sorting through a flat list and alt-tabbing to check the wiki for information that isn’t included is annoying. Having a more advanced menu system with things like dependency trees, more progression details, and subpages would make things much easier. I doubt they’d do it though because it’s a quality of life feature that fixes a minor problem that even people like me that are annoyed by it don’t care that much about and can easily work around. Still, it’d be nice if they at least made it to where modders could change it somewhere down the line.

I do have to challenge you on #6 though;

From the perspective of a table top RPG; The DM clearly laid out Amiri’s personality and her rash, self-destructive decision making. In her first quest, she demands to fight Tuskgutter alone which would likely get her killed, and she repeats that mistake constantly. This is another self-destructive thing that she is running headlong into. Her positive character development arch is realizing that she is ultimately the one defining herself as a pariah, and that she can let that go by accepting the support of her tribe (your party).

I realize that the mechanical results were harsh, but I think that “DM” gave you all the information to make an informed decision on this.