Wednesday, March 03, 2021
There are at least two computer roleplaying games in the works that are based on 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules: Baldur's Gate 3 and Solasta: Crown of the Magister. However both are still in early access, and so I am playing an older game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I basically waited for the game to add an official turn-based mode before playing, and I'm happy I waited. However, Pathfinder:Kingmaker is still far from the best CRPG I ever played, and among other factors the Pathfinder system plays a role here.
Pathfinder is not exactly an accessible RPG system. While somewhat derived from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, Pathfinder went down the road to more option, more classes, subclasses, feats, and many other options. A fully optimized Pathfinder character is a work of art, massively more powerful than a less optimized version. And to understand this optimization process takes years of learning and studying. Pathfinder is a pretty hardcore system for minmaxers, and casual players need not apply. I begin to understand why YouTube if full of videos of people playing D&D, with Pathfinder being shown played a lot less often.
For Pathfinder: Kingmaker there is a relatively simple solution, which is playing the game at normal difficulty level instead of the harder options. On normal, the unoptimized characters a typical CRPG player can put together work good enough for the challenge at hand. You end up not understanding all the game tells you about stuff like the stacking of different bonuses, but you don't actually need it.
While I was really happy to have turn-based mode for the epic fight against the Stag Lord at the end of the first chapter, there were other fights where I was fighting three centipedes, and just turned on real time combat on automatic. That was on a rather large map, which felt a bit like a slog, because it was so large and filled with relatively trivial fights. But mostly the flow of the game was okay in the first chapter. In the second chapter the game adds kingdom management, which is interesting. Your main character now needs to balance the life of an adventurer with that of a baron, and the two systems seem to interact with each other in interesting ways. This is something which I never managed to pull off as a DM in a tabletop RPG campaign, having some system in place that lets players roleplay ruling a barony. So I am interested to see how Pathfinder: Kingmaker handles this.