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Town-building hybrid RPG Pathfinder: Kingmaker is out now

I’ve always thought the best RPGs are the ones where you have a home to come back to, to celebrate victory and plan your next – Pathfinder: Kingmaker, you get your own town. Released today, Kingmaker looks like familiar Baldur’s Gate-esque RPG adventuring, but with personal purpose. You’re securing your lands, and in-between quests you get to develop your burgeoning kingdom.

Based on the almost-D&D tabletop RPG Pathfinder (and its Kingmaker campaign series), the game was Kickstarted by devs Owlcat Games last June. Below, the launch trailer.

Kingmaker seems to have a different sense of scale to it than most RPGs. Your initial quest is to go and slay a bandit lord squatting on the edge of a kingdom – cue familiar real-time-with-pause tactical combat, dialogue and looting. As reward, you’ll be given the title of Baron (or Baroness) of the reclaimed land, and expected to re-settle the region using a town-building interface, placing individual buildings on a grid map. The original Kingmaker pen-and-paper campaign had this too, but I’ve heard it was overly fiddly. Hopefully this adaptation makes the process easier.

The game takes place over five years, and decisions can shift your character alignment in that time, affecting the look and behaviour of your territory and its people – yes, you can be an evil overlord, if you want. While Kingmaker looks systems-heavy, but I’ve high hopes for the writing, as they’ve roped in Planescape: Torment’s Chris Avellone as narrative designer. As is par for the course for this wave of Baldur’s Gate-inspired RPGs, there’s some romantic story lines to pursue between territorial conquests, for those hankering to smooch on some goblins.

I hope to find the time to at least take a poke around Kingmaker in the near future, but I’m already drowning in RPGs, so have no idea how I’ll find the time. Plus, as is now-standard, Owlcat Games have also announced a season pass full of post-release adventures, though we don’t yet know what it’ll contain. And here I thought the 90s was supposed to be the golden age of the genre.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is out now on Steam, Humble and GOG for £35/€40/$40, and is published by Deep Silver.

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Dominic Tarason

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