By Derrick Jean-Baptiste
So it’s been nearly a week since Pathfinder Kingmaker and in that time I have gotten over 25 hours on about 6 different characters. I have played almost every race and I have exhausted a lot of the dialogue options in the first part of the game.
In my nigh endless time of re-rolling characters I have gotten a good idea on the overall story arc of Pathfinder Kingmaker. The overall arc is of starting a community that grows into a kingdom in a relatively untamed wilderness, with ever growing threats. Yet admitteldy the futhest I have gotten is exploring the Stolen Lands, killing a bandit leader and establishing a communitty.
The biggest issue in the game that I have encountered is the difficulty, particularly in the early levels. The devs spend a lot of time talking about how they're sticking to the pathfinder system, but then throw enemies with ACs in the high 20s at you at level 2.
There is a fight in a location called The Old Sycamore. These fights can feel honestly unbearable on higher levels. At some point I realized that the trash felt equal in strength to my party, and I was having to expend way too many resources during and after fights. I also didn't have a full party yet for multiple reasons, but all of this was on normal. I was geared as well as could be expected.
That was frustrating but you can slog your way through eventually. What tips the scale into rage territory is the absurdly insane difficulty spikes. The favorite everyone uses is the Treant-Bear you have to kill. You'll clear the other monsters fairly easily, then get to a bear that you're expected to fight at level 2-4 with high DR, and AC in the upper 20s or lower 30s, who can rip your tank apart about as fast as you can spam your few heals. They needed this fight, but there will be plenty of fights like this where you'll feel you're doing ok and then run into a non-optional fight that just destroys you.
In terms of personal preference, I think the combat was done wrong in this game. I think the game should've used more of a Divinity Original Sin type of combat since Pathfinder is inherently a turn-based RPG. As you gain levels you gain so many abilities and spells with certain classes that you have to slow the game down and micromanage even during some lower level combat.
Difficulty issues aside, the RPG aspects feel fun, the writing is above average but nothing amazing (some great things mixed with some jarring writing, particularly character dialogue that feels weird), and while I enjoy the kingdom management i don't feel I've gotten enough into it to give a proper account.
Overall I recommend it if you were really interested in it before. If you're interested but ok on passing, it's still worth the but but you might also wait a couple weeks for them to do another round of two of patching. Once (if?) they sort out if the difficulty issues the game will be a B+ for me, assuming the rest of the mid game and late game don't nose dive.