Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is a massive CRPG is every sense, and these types of games are rare on the PS4 and in general. Offering you the chance to embark on a grand adventure and giving the player the freedom to shape your quest is a very tempting proposition and is tough to do well. With all the previously released DLC included, does Pathfinder hit the mark?
Pulling its inspiration from classic games such as Baldur’s Gate, Pathfinder is set in a D&D style universe that has all the hallmarks of the great games of the past. The character creator sets the tone for how massive and detailed the universe is. There are so many options to set within a class, and there are many classes. There are four variations of sorcerer alone, and I could customize further from there.
I spent a good half hour looking through the different permutations of a few of the classes with skills, feats, and spells, and it’s wonderful. If you want to pick a pre-rolled character, you can, but I would recommend you enjoy the overwhelming choice, even if you don’t understand everything at first.
The story starts with your new hero attending a gathering to overthrow an unpleasant guy named The Stag Lord. If you can accomplish your violent coup, you will be made a baron. While sleeping, your potential heroes’ convention is attacked and most of them are killed. The remaining are split into two groups based on your choices, and you set off into the Stolen Lands to claim your destiny.
The game world is plenty big, but the lore and history are enormous. Take a look at the game’s encyclopedia (how many games have an encyclopedia?) for information on the places, monsters, and religions you are going to encounter. I love that there is so much history before I show up in the world.
As you navigate the world map, an icon representing your party uncovers more of the map by traveling along little paths. Random encounters can lead to combat or interesting meetings. Locations can be explored for quests, materials, loot, equipment, and for fighting the many monsters and humans who cross your path.
The transition between the world map and locations triggers a loading screen, and the loading screen can last longer than some of your visits in smaller locations or for a random fight. The game has a lot of little loading screens when you transition to any location or within a location, and they start to add up and become more annoying as you spend more time waiting than doing in some areas.
Fortunately, some of those locations are very large and combat gives you plenty of options to work out those frustrations. The Definitive Edition adds a new twist by allowing you to pause combat and make it more tactical. You can choose each character’s next attack, location, and micromanage to your tightly-wound heart’s delight.
The level of granular control over characters doesn’t end at creation and combat. When they level up, you can choose to manually level each one or you can have it happen automatically. As a control freak, this pleases me. I have complete autonomy over which spells, attributes, and feats each character receives, so I can shape them as a character.
Don’t mistake this as being able to change their personalities. Outside your created character, your companions are all over the place in personalities and beliefs. Great care has been taken to give them an alignment, history, and strong opinions. They aren’t lifeless automatons who will go along with whatever you want, and they’ll tell you when they’re unhappy.
My party contained a very nihilistic and whiny dwarf. It also contained a former slave and comedic orc who was happy to kill anyone. The character missions give you more insight into each of their personalities. If you can get me to like or hate a character, it demonstrates there is a character. Roll with the party that matches you, and your party is a party.
Whether you take them on the road, the characters you meet and recruit can help to manage your kingdom. After eliminating the Stag Lord with extreme, Medieval prejudice, keeping my lands together took some work, and this is where the game opened up for me. You’ll assign advisers to help manage different aspects of your kingdom and assign them to deal with problems and opportunities. If you don’t like doing this, you can have the computer automatically do it for you and ignore it.
One of my problems plaguing my kingdom was a horde of spiders killing people, and an opportunity was opening up more trade. Successfully resolving each of these can benefit and help to continue leveling up your kingdom. You can earn Build Points (BP) to build more structures and claim new territories in the Stolen Lands and diplomacy is whatever you make it.
Swinging a sword won your kingdom, but only choosing the correct path will let you keep it. The dialogue system lets you build relationships, and you can choose to show an associated alignment with certain responses. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a game that gives you plenty of reason to not kill everything you see by making those peaceful options interesting even when not worrying about matters of state. In one situation, I was given the choice to settle an argument between kobolds and mites. I could have supported either or attacked both. I played both sides of some of these choices, and the game offers some good replayability.
There is some bad in Pathfinder as well. On the technical side, I experienced more than a few crashes. The game does a good job of autosaving, but you’ll want to save often. There also were times when the game would stutter for a split second again and again as I was playing. It was weird and annoying. The game also froze repeatedly at one point with the screen going black as if it was loading, but it never came back. After restarting the game and reloading an old save, I came back to the same point a few hours later, and I was able to move forward with no problem, but that’s not great.
The other place Pathfinder falters is in the UI, and it makes managing your party and inventory a chore. The left trigger lets you switch party members, and the right trigger brings up a horizontal selection menu for everything from equipment and inventory to the journal and setting camp to rest. Switching between characters and arranging items in the inventory is just clunky.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition will appeal to people who look beyond the technical issues and enjoy the freedom, lore, and size of this very interesting world. For others, those technical problems, frustrating UI, and loading screens that seem to multiply faster than Catholics using natural family planning will be more than they can tolerate.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Definitive Edition PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
Including all the extra DLC, Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition has plenty of D&D-style content for you to enjoy. That enjoyment is lessened by technical issues and some clunky UI, but the freedom to choose your own adventure, rule and expand a kingdom, and journey through the world with a party of unique companions can help you overlook these problems.
- Huge world with deep lore and history
- Individual characters that respond to your actions
- Freedom to choose and interesting consequences
- Character creator provides so many options
- Technical issues
- Clunky UI
- So many loading screens
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.