Moving any game from one medium to another is always difficult whether it is a tabletop RPG, board game, video game, or physical sport. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a good example of how to move a specific franchise into a new area. Between its various details and the massive amount of customization and faithfulness to the tabletop game and its very long and mostly interesting story, players can enjoy the full game and the DLCs on consoles now. There are still some issues with the core elements of the game and the move to console, but overall, fans of the Pathfinder franchise will be able to appreciate it and enjoy many hours of content.
It is pretty impressive how much the character creation mirrors the physical game. They are basically identical. It can be pretty daunting for people who haven’t played Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons. There really should have been some more form and a structured tutorial with explanations of the character sheet and the abilities. All those initial choices heavily dictate how your character will play throughout the rest of the game. But for experienced players, everything is pretty smooth and well put together.
The actual gameplay has a turn-based mode that can be toggled. I found it necessary to turn on the turn-based version just because it was both too fast and too slow in the other mode. Either enemies would attack without me realizing it or my characters would stand idly by too long as I was moving my cursor from ability to ability and movement. I understand that other players may be able to juggle everything really quickly and smoothly, but the nature of the Pathfinder game feels like it is more a turn based game than more action-oriented. I wish there was a little bit more structure and better organization for the console version. A lot of it makes sense and works well on a computer, but just like how things are changed for games like Diablo, this game could’ve used some heavy alterations to controls for console users. But once a player can figure out how to control their characters and use their abilities effectively, battles become just like any tabletop game; juggling movement, abilities, initiative, and other things.
One of the other main issues is how long-winded some of the missions and gameplay are. When playing the tabletop version, players are actively talking to each other and the dungeon master and the flow of time in battles seem to move very quickly. But in this game, every battle felt fairly similar. And without face-to-face interactions or a dungeon master guiding and making the battles more interesting with on the spot changes, combat became somewhat bland.
What this game comes down to is knowing what to expect from it and know what you want as a player. If you’re looking for a mostly faithful interpretation of the Pathfinder tabletop game in a digital format, then this game works really well. You lose a lot of the creativity that you’re able to have in face-to-face interactions with a group, but players can still enjoy playing through an adventure with her own character and lots of customization. If a person wants to get into table-top games, but is hesitant about the longer/socially driven games, then this might be a good test run and dive into the mechanics of a game like this. But for players who don’t know the franchise or similar games and are expecting an RPG or action-adventure, this isn’t probably going to be very enjoyable.