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  1. #1

    Way late review.

    Preface, I do really like this game - it isn't perfect, but it is a very ambitious game.

    Rant - Pathfinder Kingmaker really screams for a rule-book / manual it didn't need to be a giant tome. Having something that lists what the races, classes / subclasses / prestige classes are, feats, Spell lists, Weapons, Armor & Equipment lists, spell / BAB progression charts ect ect would have been amazingly helpful.

    Maybe that just isn't the standard anymore, but imho for a game that really wants to be the spiritual successor to Balder's Gate 1&2, that is the standard I expect.

    Part 1. The Double Edged Sword.

    Character creation & leveling up screens, as someone who has never played a Pathfinder game (in any format) before, these screens can be really intimidating, and frankly lack complete and transparent info.

    Example, you may get offered "Weapon Focus" as your 1st feat, but don't get the info that it is a prerequisite for Weapon Specialization (et al), nor do you get any specific information on whatever weapon you are choosing. (ie is it 1 handed or 2?, finesse? reach?)

    Similarly, feats you don't qualify for, don't show up in the list - so you don't know what prerequisite you might be missing, nor do you have the info that may help guide your choices as you shape your character through multiple levels.

    Ultimately the most impactful decisions you make in the entire game are made on these screens, and if you make mistakes you might not even notice until you're a few more levels in, more than once I'd get past the Stag Lord only to regret choices I made way back in the intro.

    Positives: a very healthy amount of variety in classes / subclasses & races - there is more variety and options here than the Infinity Engine games had at launch, and at least on par / better than NwN 1 or 2 had on launch.

    I like the way they walk you through your initial choices, I wish there was a better flow than choose a picture, then try and build a character that "matches" the picture alas.

  2. #2
    Part 2 - Difficulty and the learning curve.

    The early chapters seem like an appropriate challenge, there are a few wrinkles here and there, swarms are a learning experience, but I always felt like even fights that seemed "impossible" at first could be mitigated by changing tactics, using an appropriate buff, or changing the active party lineup.

    And that held mostly true through most of the midgame, (Haste, Bless, Prayer, Communal Slow Poison or Energy Resistance did a ton of heavy lifting.)

    Towards the end game that flipped and flipped hard, I was breezing through pretty much everything up to a point where suddenly I really had to start treating every encounter with a healthy dose of respect, even "trash" mobs in the end game could shrug off most of my attacks. Micro managing became the name of the game and using the right weapons / spells / tactics was more required than recommended.

    I'm fine with a game being hard, my issue was I got lulled into a false sense of security and wasn't really ready for everything the end game throws at you.

    In a perfect game you not only progress your character's levels & gear, but also get better as a player so you then have the tools to face the really challenging encounters. Pathfinder misses the mark here.

    I'd not recommend making the game easier, but a bit more consistently challenging. (case could be made that this shows just how powerful buffs like Haste are - where the spell is so powerful it becomes a crutch. I'm reminded of the joke, four wheel drive will not keep you from getting stuck - it will just get you stuck in worse places. For whatever reason I stopped developing as a player so when the game did ramp up I wasn't ready.

    I'm pretty sure there were some alternate ways I could have developed my PC & NPCs so they would have been better positioned for the challenges of end game.

  3. #3
    Part 3, Pacing.

    I didn't really enjoy the barony management side of the game, overall it felt like it was far more complicated than it needed to be and it required far more time than I wanted it to. I probably spent more time doing barony management than I did going out on adventures.

    I get that the barony is an important piece of the story they wanted to tell - and it works in that context, but for me it wasn't a welcome respite between big events - it was more of a time sink that gated big events. Nor did the kingdom really seem to matter much overall.

    In every other CRPG I've played, you can tackle the game more or less at your own pace, Kingmaker marches to a much different beat - relying on time locked events to open and close chapters, there were days of game time where my guys just hung out @ the capitol waiting for the next big thing.

    Further some chapters really felt stretched, either the awkward way some events triggered, or the repetition of running into very similar packs of enemies over and over again.

  4. #4
    Nitpicks:

    the "one attempt" rule for locked boxes can go die in a fire.

    In a tabletop environment, you may have other options - breaking / forcing the chest open, Knock spell, just taking the entire chest ect ect, maybe buff and re-attempt.

    Breaking a Lock / chest is a standard feature that games like NWN & KOTOR had years ago, and seems like a very strange oversight to have not included that function in Kingmaker.

    In practice boxes just became a hit F5 as soon as the thief starts moving towards a container. - and that is the fundamental problem with very binary situations in a solo computer game, it becomes more of a re-load until successful vs an interesting and fun game experience.

    I'd of preferred something like a 3 strikes rule, after 3 attempts they lock is broken and cannot be picked.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by koz-ivan View Post
    the "one attempt" rule for locked boxes can go die in a fire
    Well, it's an annoying rule for sure, but you can try again next level - and you can have multiple characters with maxed Trickery. On a second attempt, it might be worth it to get help from a bard song or some spell.

    I'd rather question whether it's a good idea to place a lot of locks with high DC. Locks are nice to illustrate private property, build anticipation towards the treasure inside and give the player of the party trickster feelings of success. However, most of this can be achieved with low and medium DCs already. Maybe you want a single high DC lock in an area, to mark exceptional treasure. Or you want a monster to chase a party toward a locked door, so they suffer from time pressure. But those are corner cases...

  6. #6
    Unlimited attempts are a really bad idea, in my view, because it just means people will dump-stat trickery and hope for 20s. And if being arbitrarily locked out after a certain number of attempts is the problem, I don't see that 2 or 3 attempts per chest is necessarily better or more reasonable than 1.

    If I were going to change the system, I'd simply get rid of the die roll and assume you "take 10" on all trickery attempts. That way there'd be no more gaming the system or save-scumming, you'd either be good enough to open the chest or not and you would know there's no point in returning until you improve your trickery score.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jsaving View Post
    If I were going to change the system, I'd simply get rid of the die roll and assume you "take 10" on all trickery attempts. That way there'd be no more gaming the system or save-scumming, you'd either be good enough to open the chest or not and you would know there's no point in returning until you improve your trickery score.
    I kinda like that.

    --

    As I see it, the primary problem is that when I tell my party to open a box I don't even know it is locked - let alone how stout the lock is.

    If I need to pass a mobility / athletics check, I know the difficulty ahead of time - and can buff accordingly, and in some cases can re-attempt.

    Take 10 is pretty clean, certainly from the DM / dev side it makes it pretty easy for them to calculate how tough they want the locks to be and set accordingly.

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