Why are there so many bad steam reviews?

Hello, I normally just lurk forums rather than actively write in them. In this case I felt like I have to. Do you have any idea why there is so many bad reviews on steam? I myself was very afraid of the game’s scope but found it to be a true gem of a game - the best pc rpg since Baldur’s Gate II at least! Everything works together, the game is challenging but doable, writing is good, characters interesting, tabletop rules (which I play ever since they started) are exceptionally well ported to the PC…

So… Why the loads of bad reviews?

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Because it’s not a casual RPG: it’s Pathfinder. And Pathfinder isn’t intuitive or simple, it’s kind of complex and clunky (which I think is great).

If you don’t already know the Pathfinder ruleset, the game is very difficult and many of the mechanics are hard to grasp right off the bat.

Many reasons in my opinion.
Abandoned Arts stated one.
One could also say that it’s an old-school game, with a different approach than modern games as to taking the player by the hand.
It is still somewhat buggy and the difficulty balance does not please some people.
Probably other reasons too. What do the bad reviews say?

I don’t get the bad reviews to be honest. And I don’t understand the difficulties some people seem to have. For example: I always follow my rival immediately and the only challenging encounter entails a fireball against my level 4 party at the end of that story arc.

My main character is a Bard (Archaeologist archetype), so my combat abilities are somewhat limited at level 4 and my party is not overpowered or so.

Its for me even right now the Best Game since the Baldurs Gate series.
I dont take the Steam reviews to serious as i mentioned in a another tread.
The sad think is there will be no mod support? Imagine how much modders and devs could learn from each other and make this game even better. It would be sooo great for the evolution of this game.

So, i haven’t read the steam reviews, but looking at this forum, it seems to me that there are a lot of bugs that can ruin your experience.
Someone could dislike some design decisions, but having so many bugs in a supposed not-anymore-in-beta game to me doesn’t earn good advertising…

Most of the bad Steam reviews I’ve read have to do with a few things:

  1. Bugs and crashes. Not surprising, not exactly in need of discussing. Every game has them, every game gets bad reviews because of them. This game has its fair share of them (I’ve run into a few glitched quests) but it seems especially vulnerable to them due to a relatively small beta. This isn’t unusual for indie games, but it’s still not popular with customers.

  2. Lack of explanation. People who aren’t Pathfinder veterans are upset at how little of the intricate, convoluted ruleset is explained to them and people who are Pathfinder veterans are upset at how much was changed without any sort of explanation.

  3. Fake difficulty. As one reviewer put it, there is ‘clever’ difficult and ‘stupid’ difficult, and I’m inclined to agree that after multiple TPKs this game tends towards the latter more than the former. There’s no out-thinking some encounters - I’ve run into a pair of elder water elementals (CR13 by the book, not accounting for boosted stats) as a random encounter at level 5 (when a CR9 encounter is considered nearly impossible). You just find the encounter, die hopelessly, reload, and pray to RNG that you never see it again. This is an especially prevalent opinion among Pathfinder veterans, since most of them know full well how the system works and thus can uncover how much it’s cheating.

Edit: 3a) The companions. This is a distinct subset of #3 because the modified NPC stats are what make the companions look bad - They are what we at the table would refer to as roleplay builds. Their stats and feats reflect their stories and backgrounds rather than the best combination for their class, and while not perfect they are fairly decent. The problem is that enemies have optimized builds and the difference between a roleplay build and an optimized build is enormous. This is especially noticeable with poor Amiri, who has multiple attack penalties that mean she whiffs a lot and too low AC to survive if she gets targeted. There’s also the order that you get them - Going into a story boss fight without a healer is both possible (with certain choices and/or bad dice rolls) and rather sadistic (See #3).

  1. User interface complaints. Some elements of the UI are weirdly-designed, counterintuitive, or hard to figure out. Speaking from experience, it took me half an hour to figure out how to spontaneously cast healing spells. Part of this is because of elements not being explained (#2) and other parts are because of what I call ‘tutorial numbness’ - Too much reading in too short a time means that people tend to skim through it rather than read it because they want to get back to playing the game, and things that aren’t explicitly pointed out can get lost in that muddle.

  2. Design decisions. The real-time vs. turn-based debate is the most prominent one because ultimately Pathfinder is a turn-based system. With the change nobody really knows how the Initiative system works (See #2 again) or how to properly manage it. It also means that a lot of conventional Pathfinder tactics are invalidated while others become a lot stronger because of something as simple as enemies being able to move when it’s not their turn.

This is the basic impression I’ve gotten for the number of negative reviews.

  • I have a feeling that so many people have problems with game or ruleset (they have no idea what Pathfinder is and they choose hard game mode… …and complain because it is hard).
  • Allso many have not yet even get they keys ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/owlcatgames/pathfinder-kingmaker/comments )
  • Some have not get they “promised” things yet (may they be Chris Avellone module, bonus items, physical rewards, game walk through and so on) and are not reading this forum, kickstart updates or discord.

So in generally some people just vote bad in Steam because at the day when game was released they did not get all what they wished for. Yes it is childish but some people are like that.

I can confirm that this is annoying at times. My worst example so far: The Troll King just crushed my party in my first run. So I restarted the game, redid my main Character’s attributes with int 13 because going combat expertise -> improved disarm seemed to be a good way to handle a large creature with a large club…but there is no disarming mechanic in the game as I found out way later.

The only way to handle said fight seems to be hoping the Troll King focuses Valerie’s high AC untill you manage to kill him.

There is? I mean atleast for me (Aldori Defender) have disarm as feat + will later get greater disarm and get Disarming Strike (if I remember right) at level 5 (class, automatic).

That is odd. Maybe it is a bug with the level up mechanic. I aspire to always take combat expertise and improved disarm on the same level since I never use combat expertise. Maybe the level up mechanic doesn’t register me as valid for improved disarm when I take combat expertise first and then try to get improved disarm as the fighter bonus feat. - I will check on that.

Edit: I tested it and found my “mistake”. First the ability is not called improved disarm in the game but just disarm (my mistake). Second the ability is not shown in the allphabetical order once you have unlocked the prerequesits but listed on the very buttom of the list together with (improved) trip.

So all in all I think the feat sorting needs an update. My first guess is to mark feats with prerequesits as favorite feats and list them on the top of the feat list to make them more visible when leveling up.

When the game first released, and the vast majority of reviews were still positive, there was a contingent of people posting that the game had “SJW” themes and this somehow ruined their experience. 9_9 I’ve been worried this overly vocal minority of people fake-inflated other issues to bomb the game over thematic concepts they find problematic (it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened to a game).

“SJW” themes? Are they crazy? The good alignments have been SJW like before the internet even was a thing.

I like to consider myself a nerd-veteran of games like this one with a lot of runs in BGI, BGII, IWDI, IWDII, NWNI, NWNII and so on. It is not a boast, I simply had a lot of free time when I played them xD

I really like this game, the concept, the art style, the storytelling experience etc. but it has some critical issues that can not be ignored in my opinion.

Based on my personal experience and the other reviews, I can say that the main ones are:

  1. Poor optimization, with endless loading screens, multiple crashes and a long list of bugs both in the interface and in the game mechanics; this is simply a fact. The dev team is doing constant progress with hotfixes and other patches but the game, as it has been released, is most of the time very hard to play without problems.

  2. Lack of a solid tutorial. Most of the people who haven’t played the tabletop version of this game, or other classics isometrical RPGs, are having a lot of problems trying to understand the game mechanics. The character sheet has a lot of information on it but with nearly no explanations. Combat and defensive maneuvers are something, for example, a lot of people are struggling with.

  3. Impossibility to respec or change appearance. Pathfinder has an infinite number of spells, abilities, and feats and could be very easy to make a mistake when leveling up a companion or when creating the main protagonist. The impossibility to reset a character, even just to redistribute the feats or ability points is, in my opinion, a serious handicap of the game.
    Also, the fact of not being able to change the basic clothes of the character is disappointing for some. I, for example, am playing as a warrior/inquisitor and I find really ugly to have to go around in my majestic plate armor but with the default inquisitor’s round hat; it’s just silly and breaks the immersion.

  4. Difficulty. There is nothing to say, the game is totally unbalanced and a lot of people are asking themselves if the beta testing was a real thing. It is not a matter of being good at the game or not, the encounters are just unfair.
    You can’t have a team of six level five-character, go to the stag lord fort and have to fight more than 20 people of your same level, where a shitty alchemist has 27 AC, more than Valerie herself! It’s not possible to pretend that the game is balanced.
    If you want me to fight a lot of people in a single area, you can’t make them the same level of my party, otherwise, I’ll have to fight a single bunch of them using all my resources, then rest, then go to fight another group, then rest again and so on.
    You can’t make me fight a werewolf as a random encounter at level 2, it’s simply a death sentence.
    Even with the bear-like treant, one of the first “boss”: I had to buff my all team with everything I had, then try and reload six times before being able to kill him. When the encounter can one-shot every single one of your characters is purely a matter of RnG and the game ceased to be fun at all.
    I have to renounce to the idea of being immersed in the narration because I know that, if I’m about to encounter a mob, I’ll be forced to try and reload several times before I can continue my journey.

I repeat, I’m loving the game but it has really many aspects that are frustrating and that really do not let the immersion and fun. I can only hope the dev will listen to the constructive criticisms and keep to improve this beautiful game.

When I had a nearly level 3, full party, TPK on a SINGLE leopard that got 5 attacks per round (with +13!) to hit, after I’d dealt over 50 damage to it, on NORMAL… yeah, you bet your ass people who are familiar with what to expect from Pathfinder are complaining because the’re getting blindsided by massive pumped up foes.

OMG do people not know what is going on, that Leopard is NOT normal, and you wipe you at 3rd level. As it’s MUCH higher level then that.

Stag Lord and his men are not the same level as you (at Level 5), they are MUCH higher level, Stag Lord himself is roughly level 8.

People keep complaining expecting everything to scale to the parties level, but thats NOT how this game works.

Maybe you missed the point, either via lack of reading comprehension, or self-absorption, I don’t know. Clearly we’re saying things are NOT normal. Specifically, they are not PnP normal, and are scaled up AT THE DIFFICULTY LEVEL PURPORTED TO REFLECT PNP! As for the Stag Lord, or a “boss” monster, you’ve got indicators to expect they won’t be normal. A random-ass leopard in the middle of nowhere in a map spot near the starting/central area? Why on earth would you EXPECT that to be anything more than a STANDARD CR2 leopard, with 3 attacks per round and about 20hp, as per PnP?

If I’m playing a party that could take it in PnP, on the difficulty purported to reflect PnP, that same party should be able to handle it in the game. Not necessarily steamroll it, but handle it without constant wipes and reloads. If you can’t understand that, and why so many people feel let down by the game as is, then please go hire a tutor to help with your reading comprehension.

Amardarial, the point is the quest in which you have to confront the stag lord is time-based, you don’t have all the time you want to go around and gather xp.

Besides, I arrived to the stag lord at level 4 (almost 5), after I’ve done all the side quests and the errands I was able to find. How was I supposed to reach lv 8 in time to confront him and have a fair combat? It is impossible, at least for me (I’m playing on a custom difficoulty where enemyes have normal stats and do full damage).

Maybe you missed the point, either via lack of reading comprehension, or self-absorption, I don’t know, but this clearly isn’t PnP, things change to reflect the changes they have to make to the system for it to all work. Old 2nd Games were easier, due to less rules to translate, 3rd Edition rules set is a nightmare to code for a PC game.

If everything was stated pure PnP, the game would be a cake walk, nothing would be hard.

This is what happens when not all the rules can be implemented, when a turn based initiative based game becomes real time, etc

Neverwinter games were much like this as well, nothing was scaled right, only difference between this and Neverwinter, is this is a open world, and that seems to be peoples actual issue, they expect the world to tell them were they should or shouldn’t go, like a DM often would, but there is nothing like that in this game.

@Strifire, you are not supposed to match him in level, that’s never intended, even in the PnP version, he is SUPPOSED to out level you. Reaching him at level 4-5 is normal.

This also shows the difference between PnP and a CRPG, in PnP there are hundreds of ways to beat the Stag Lord without ever entering combat, that really can’t be translated in a CRPG. So level was less of a issue.