Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous Presentation and Q&A
Last week a presentation was given about the second stage of the beta for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Below is a summary of that presentation and the Q&A that followed it. From Owlcat Games, Creative Director Alexander Mishulin and Head of Publishing Andrey Tsvetkov were present and from the publishing agency Homerun, Christopher Rosario was there. RPGWatch was represented by Redglyph.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is scheduled for a PC release on the 2nd of September on Steam and GOG.
Owlcat feels that they have reached a very important stage of the development where they can share the game with a lot more players and gather their feedback, information and suggestions to make the best CRPG possible. Right now, there is quite an amount of content: 60 hours of gameplay, consisting of the prologue and 4 complete chapters out of 6, which means the endgame is not part of the beta.
There is a lot to explore, but it's still beta so it does not have the final quality. At the beginning it's quite polished but as you go deeper, some bugs can be encountered that will be fixed over time, but these bugs should not be restricting you much as the game is still fully playable, and they hope it will give you as a player a very enjoyable experience for the first 60 hours or so.
The presentation focused on the top 10 beta features in the game, and although there are many more, these were the ones Owlcat wanted to talk about in the presentation.
The character creation is vast, there are 25 classes and 12 races. Almost each class has at least 5 archetypes, sometimes even more. This means there are plenty of different builds to be made. Owlcat is building the game in such a way that they are getting closer and closer to the tabletop version of Pathfinder in terms of options that are provided for the character creation. You should be able to build any character you like and as the character progresses in the game, you will be able to multiclass it, bringing to life the character you dreamt about and who is able to combat demons.
There are 6 mythic paths available in the beta: Azata, Angel, Aeon, Trickster, Lich and Demon. The other mythic paths, Gold Dragon, Swarm that Walks, Legend, and another option, are not in the beta because they are available in the 5th chapter and that is not part of the demo.
The mythic paths are a very big feature of the game. At some time in the game you will be able to choose which path to follow that connects you to that path and makes you one of the very powerful beings that live in Golarion. You can be an angel or a demon, a very powerful lich or aeon. This will shape your whole adventure and your story, because it has a lot of impact on the story and the choices that will be available to you. It also adds a completely new level to character progression. So, you will be combining those character choices with the choices provided for the mythic path.
Let's take as an example that you want to become a lich, a very powerful necromancer with deadly spells. If you are playing as a spell caster, this is a natural fit. Your spells will become more deadly, and you will get a bigger arsenal of those spells. But if you are playing a fighter, dealing with hand-to-hand combat, you will get to choose an ability that makes you drain health from the enemy, or summon undead into a battle. Each path will fit any class in some way and gives you more customization options.
And of course there are some interesting choices and features in each mythic path. For example, if you play an Azata, a pet dragon will join you. She will follow you around, take part in many dialogs to voice her opinion. And it's a dragon that grows over time. It starts as a nice addition but ends up as a powerful member of your team.
At some point in the campaign you will be leading the crusade. It's an additional strategic layer to the game where you will be directing your armies and are going to the worldwound, explore it and try to reclaim the lands that were captured by demons. You will also gather resources, find relics and powerful items that will help you during the adventure and you will make crucial choices for the crusade and build your army according to your preferences. Obviously, you get to lead your army into battle, which is a completely tactical game in itself. There will be lots of units to choose from, each of which has different abilities, allowing you to build your army in your way.
They are still working hard on the Crusade system, so it is still pretty much in development and there are some rough edges that can be expected here.
You are not alone in the world as you travel with companions. Each companion has its own alignment, world view and opinions, which they like to make heard. They will react more often to decisions than they did in Kingmaker.
Each companion comes with personal quests and romantic options. You will not be able to see the end of the story for each companion in the beta, because it normally expands over the whole game hence beyond the 4th chapter.
There are a total of 12 companions and joining these companions is Finnean, a sentient weapon. It's like a companion but on a smaller scale, you'll be able to find it, and talk to it to get to know it better, and experience the beginning of a story (see also this kickstarter post).
Unique places to visit
There are a lot of unique places to visit throughout the adventure: like wildernesses, dungeons and the worldwound where the Abyss collides with the normal world. You can expect these places to be sometimes mysterious, sometimes really weird, and almost all the time dangerous. You will be able to visit spectacular vistas, mansions populated by demons, find portals to mysterious places to explore, and of course there are quite a lot of dungeons with difficult choices, dangerous encounters and unique bosses.
Most of the locations were present in the first beta, but now they are complete in their full visual glory and you can experience them as they are meant to be. There is also quite a big city to explore, some of the screenshots showcase this city, but they did not want to tell more to avoid spoilers.
Two combat modes
There are two combat modes that can be used when fighting: it's either the quite dynamic and spectacular real-time mode, or a turn-based mode in which you can deliberate on each action, plan, and precisely control the whole fight. You can switch between the modes on the fly.
For example, when you encounter an easy group of demons, you just switch to real-time mode, give a couple of commands, and that's it. After that, you encounter a mini-boss which is quite challenging, requires careful preparation and lots of spells to cast, so it's best to switch to turn-based mode to beat this demon.
Some classes have animal companions that travel with them. In Wrath of the Righteous it becomes better: there is a progression system for animal companions that makes them more useful, you can choose their feats and abilities, customize them a little bit, and gather items that you can use on them to make them more powerful. You can even mount them and ride them into battle. Now a paladin can mount a horse to face demons. Dinosaurs can be mounted too and become your animal companion.
Crusade isn't really a clean business, there could be a lot of blood, and sometimes limbs can be severed or destroyed outright. It doesn't only happen to humans but also to other creatures.
You can encounter drastic weather conditions, harsh rain, snow, or sometimes even something really weird.
RPGs can be quite difficult to get into, there is a lot of information especially at the beginning when you have to learn the game, the lore and the systems. They have tried to make this easier by offering different types of tutorials. Some of them are linked to the context and actions. These tutorials can advise you if your items are mismatched and provide different bonuses that don't necessarily work together. If you want to know how the systems work, there are hyperlinks in the tutorials that provide specific information on each of them. Hyperlinks also help bring you up to date with the lore, by providing details on what a place is, or what a term really means. Some hyperlinks even show the choices that you have previously made in the game, and how they relate to the current situation.
Owlcat also tries to provide a lot of information about classes during the character creation process. What is this class really great at? Is it difficult to play? What are the signature abilities of that class? etc. If you want to understand the nuts and bolts of a class, you can click on the "Detailed" button and try to min-max whatever you'd like.
Following the presentation there was a Q&A session where all the available reporters from the various news outlets were able to ask their questions.
TJ Denzer: Based off experiences and feedback from the release of Kingmaker, what was the team's priority in improvement and features as it approached Wrath of the Righteous?
Alexander Mishulin: There are quite a lot of things we wanted to be better at. First and foremost, the launch of Kingmaker was a bit rough, so this time around we planned a lot of time to allow us to polish the game. Then there are some systems that we made to make sure the game wouldn't break in some ways. For example, there is a system that allows us to see and maintain decision trees in the game and make sure all combinations of those decisions are addressed. There is also a bot running in the game that reports bugs and errors to us so they can be fixed. And we wanted to be a little bit more focused on companions, we gave them more spotlight, they react to more of the player's decisions, they are more talkative, they argue with one another, and you get to know them better.
Thorne Stone: What are the most prolific innovations that Wrath of the Righteous does to separate itself from other games in the genre, including the previous title, Kingmaker?
Alexander Mishulin: It's a difficult question, there are small features and big features that are different. Big ones were addressed in the presentation, for example the mythic path which is an additional layer of character development that allows it to be very powerful, like Lich or Angel. It has huge story impacts, huge mechanical impacts, and allows for a lot of replayability.
We really liked the strategic layer in Kingmaker, but we made a lot of tweaks and changes to make it feel like a crusade, and to make it feel like you're commanding the armies and leading them against the demons.
There are smaller innovations that are still noticeable and interesting, like for example the camera rotation. It can change how you experience locations and how we can make them. In Wrath of the Righteous there are lots of tall buildings, walls that surround the city, and it works without rotation by making them transparent to see the characters, but now you can also turn the camera around and follow the action completely. There are quite a few more cut scenes, we hope they will make the experience more alive. There are also changes in different systems and upgrades in almost every system we have.
Dustin Bailey: How closely does the story follow the original Paizo adventure path?
Alexander Mishulin: It's about the same as Kingmaker, we consider ourselves as DM for this adventure, and we are taking the story and retailoring it for the computer game audience. So, some of the events and encounters are very close, some of the situations of the characters and underlying events could be different from the original material.
Donald Shields: Will it be possible to miss companions as you progress through the campaign, like Jubilost in Kingmaker? Or will recruitment of companions be more streamlined?
Alexander Mishulin: Some companions could be lost, but not the same way as Jubilost. For example, there is a character who's sitting behind bars and if you ignore him and walk away, you'll miss this companion. Some companions will join you outright, some have to be found, there is even one that you must hire before he becomes a real companion.
Redglyph: Have you interacted with Paizo or the authors of the adventure path? For example, did Paizo follow the development or give directions so that the vision of the game corresponds to their vision of the tabletop experience? Can you take enough freedom with the story? How do the two compare?
Alexander Mishulin: We worked with Paizo, we have a lot of calls and discuss anything we'd like to change, or new material we'd like to introduce into the game. They're really great partners to work with, because every time we discuss something, we come to a solution that we like and that Paizo likes as well. We also have a lot of freedom.
The Mythic path is very different from the tabletop material. They have the same idea of progression beyond the limit of normal character progression, but our version of the paths are tied to the powerful beings and different alignments and builds off of this.
The same goes for the story, of course we discussed all the changes to the story, and how we want it to progress. We got complete freedom when we envisioned those. After the discussion we came to the version that we liked and it got into production. So in terms of freedom I've talked with different IP holders during my career, and Paizo is really the easiest to work with, we have common ground and common understanding of how Pathfinder works, what makes it a great IP and what shortcomings are. We play a lot of Pathfinder at Owlcat, we played the tabletop campaign of Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous. Every member of the team had to play, and we really love those tabletop moments, so it's easy for us to understand each other.
Thorne Stone: How customizable is the army you command? Are you able to equip each soldier individually? Will the soldiers be a part of the role-playing experience in the game?
Alexander Mishulin: There are a lot of different units in the game. You'll be able to choose from those and make your own army. You'll not be customizing the units themselves, so you'll not be able to give a boost to a particular unit because we are talking about an experience like Heroes of Might & Magic where there are armies with huge amounts of units, and we approach it the same way, like 200 of your footmen attack 10 powerful demons. You are not customizing each particular soldier, but through the buildings that you are constructing in the garrison, you'll be able to fine-tune the units to your liking. Some buildings will also help you overcome the demons in different ways. There are also global spells that allow you to, for example, strike demons with lightning before attacking them. So, a lot of choices, but they are closer to classical fantasy strategy games like Heroes of Might & Magic than more tactical games like for example Final Fantasy Tactics
Donald Shields: Will the ability to dismiss spells be implemented?
Alexander Mishulin: It's quite a requested feature, it is not in the beta yet because we are still working and fine-tuning this, but we really hope it will be available.
Jason Wilson: Will casters (divine and arcane) get more variety in their O-level spells? Kingmaker feels limited, esp. when you contrast them with 5E D&D.
Alexander Mishulin: There will probably be one or two more 0-level spells, but it won't be much different than Kingmaker. I'd have to say that D&D 5E and Pathfinder have quite different rule systems. They have the same roots but from 3.5E they took completely different directions. They're still similar but the way the 0-level spells work in 5E has a completely different impact on how characters work in comparison to 3.5E. So we can't just pick the same solution as 5E and use it in 3.5E or Pathfinder.
Jason Wilson: What bonuses do Cavaliers get with their weapons while unmounted, if any?
Alexander Mishulin: There are some feats and abilities, for example each cavalier belongs to a particular order, and those orders provide them with special abilities. Most cavaliers can issue a challenge to enemies, which in mechanical terms is similar to a taunt, so enemies have to attack the cavalier, or they suffer a penalty that depends on the order. Cavaliers are great tacticians and they can share teamwork feats during battle (feats that work when you perform an action together with allies) - this is not tied to their mounts. There is a Cavalier archetype that works without a mount so if you want to be a cavalier but not ride in battles.
Donald Shields: Will there be new weapon types added that were absent in Kingmaker, like lances for the Cavalier?
Alexander Mishulin: I don't remember if there are new weapons types, but there are no fewer.
Jans Holstrom: Does the sentient weapon companion have a romance option?
Alexander Mishulin: No
Redglyph: Is it planned to adapt the encounters depending on the RTwP / TB combat modes? A run through the game in turn-based mode takes significantly longer.
Alexander Mishulin: No, encounters are not changed in any way, that's what allows us to make them switchable on the fly. It could be quite strange if you encountered 5 minotaurs, and after switching to TB, they changed into 2 minotaurs. It happens in JRPGs, but those are different games. Since it's possible to switch between modes during the battle, when you are in TB mode, if you are sure you are winning and you want to finish more quickly, you can just switch to RTwP.
In terms of time, it's lengthier but not that much because there is quite a lot of time spent in dialogs, in choosing options, in crusades, and so on. Since only the battle time increases, it will be longer, but not, say, 3 times longer.
Alexander Mishulin: Cavalier of small size will be able to mount smaller companions in the game, most of them at least. There are some boars, but no pigs nor badgers.
Dustin Bailey: What prompted the decision to stick with first edition Pathfinder rules? Are there any mechanical changes to make the systems work better in a video game context?
Alexander Mishulin: The biggest impact on that decision was to provide players with more options and more classes, and be able to build on top of the systems already implemented in Kingmaker and make it richer, with more options, more feat abilities and so on.
Eric Henn: Can you go into some detail about how you're hoping to make it easier to learn than Kingmaker? For example, I know some of the more intricate feats (magus feats in particular) were pretty unintuitive to use. Have you put some focus on making those more streamlined?
Alexander Mishulin: We paid a lot of attention to systems that are not intuitive or that work in unintuitive ways. Both in terms of UI and in terms of context tutorial, or just a little bit of explaining, inside the feats or when highlighting the signature abilities. We are still working on this and gathering feedback. There are classes that are especially difficult, like for example kineticist or magus. They are marked as difficult and if you are not familiar with the Pathfinder system, we are slightly encouraging you to go to easier classes first in order to understand.
Jason Wilson: Pathfinder's story missions could be confusing, especially when you dealt with the Bloom. Will Wrath be a bit clearer, or have more tools to help with being clearer?
Alexander Mishulin: First of all, Kingmaker was quite tied to the time, and time flow throughout the game. Time is a tool which allows us to tell the story of your kingdom growing and expanding: you become baron, then king. This time, time is not as important. There will be some events tied to time, but it will not be punishing and you won't be failing something because of time. Sometimes you'll be warned there is unfinished business here or there, and if you choose to address those, you can go and do it. Some of the quests are deliberately made mysteriously vague, sometimes you have to find something in the wild, you don't know the exact location for example, and nobody around knows, you have to find it. But most of those quests are side quests, so it won't impede the progress or the crusade. It will be optional challenges you can take.
Donald Shields: Will there be greater animal companion customization options, like names, aesthetics, and/or armor?
Alexander Mishulin: We still want to bring names into the game but for now there are no options to name them. There are no visual customizations. As for items and armor, there is barding but it will be less varied than armor for characters.
Donald Shields: Are there plans to incorporate puzzles with multiple solutions/approaches, similar to the secret way to open the Gates to the Valley of the Dead in Kingmaker?
Alexander Mishulin: There are some.
Todd at LinuxGameConsortium: Kingmaker offered Linux support with, Mac and Windows. Will the same platforms be available and when?
Andrey Tsvetkov: We are extremely thankful to the Linux supporters for Kingmaker. At the moment the game is announced for PC Windows on Steam and GOG. I can also confirm we are working on the MacOS version as well. Unfortunately there are no current plans to allocate resources on the Linux version right now. If the situation changes, we will keep you updated.
Redglyph: How did you choose the adventure paths, Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous? Are there other ones that are tempting you? And if so, as DLC or as a new game? There is a very good base now.
Alexander Mishulin: It's tricky to answer what APs are appealing to me, because it's a leading question.
About Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous: there are certain qualities in AP that make them easier to make them CRPG. It should be rather open, at least some part of the adventure, to allow us to incorporate a lot of exploration, C&C, to experience the results of those choices. Kingmaker was great at that because it was really open and a sandbox experience.
WotR, the story is deeper and a little more streamlined, but some parts are sandboxed and make it easier for us to provide C&C. In linear parts, we took the liberty to bring more changes to incorporate all the RPG ingredients. The AP also have an underlined strategy layer. In Kingmaker you are building a kingdom, in WotR you are leading the crusade. We like that strategic layer because it allows us to immerse you deeper into the events and to make feel you not only feel as a hero but also a commander, or a ruler of nation. It also allows putting the spotlight on the companions in different situations. They are not only your companions, but your advisors, your generals. This provides an interesting element to their characters: how they react to everything that is happening, and in our opinion, makes for a deeper game.
So the APs that are easier to make into a CRPG are the ones with those qualities. As for the AP that I personally really like, there is War of the Crown because of its political intrigue, and it also has an interesting dynamic in terms of events. But this is the one I like, and every member on the team has their own preferences, so it's not as if I was saying the next game will be WotR because I like it.
Thorne Stone: Are there any plans for multiplayer options for the game like those offered in the Divinity series?
Alexander Mishulin: We want to focus on single player experience, and make the best SP CRPG experience. We made a couple of MMOs before starting working on Kingmaker, and we know how much effort it takes to bring great MP and coop experience. So, it will not be in this game.
Donald Shields: It may be too early to tell, but do you have any plans of incorporating standalone campaigns, like Varnhold's Lot, that have an impact on the main story?
Alexander Mishulin: Right now, we are focusing on bringing WotR to all the gamers in best possible shape and we aren't working on any DLC. But this idea is tempting so when the time comes to discuss DLCs and what we could possibly be making, this will definitely come to mind.
Castielle Fextralife: Can you give us a bit more information about the timeframe of the launch? Can we expect more class changes or is it pretty much finalized in terms of what the classes are going to be?
Andrey Tsvetkov: For the release, we will make the announcement next week, along with the start of our 2nd beta, and you'll get a follow-up with the precise launch date. Right now I can say that it is happening this year but it won't happen in June.
Alexander Mishulin: As for the classes and abilities, beta classes are finalized, there are several archetypes we are still working on. There could still be some issues because it's still in beta, but otherwise they're pretty much working the way we want them to work.
Castielle Fextralife: What influenced your decision to add TB mode?
Alexander Mishulin: Actually, it came from Kingmaker. After its release we saw a great mod [A/N: "Turn-based combat" by Hsinyu, on Nexusmods], it showed us how the game is played on TB and brought many new players used to TB to the game. We wanted to make the game appealing and enjoyable to as many players as possible. TB is a huge option but very interesting, so we contacted the mod developer to see how to use that as a foundation to add TB to Kingmaker.
Catherine Daro: If I forego mythic paths and decide to go for the Legend, is it a path on its own? Does it affect the story?
Alexander Mishulin: Legend is one of those "couple of other options". There is a big decision you have to make in the 5th chapter, which is also tied to mythic paths. Yes, Legend is a mythic path of its own with different abilities, mechanically it's even more unique than most other mythic paths.
Mike Williams: About DLC and season pass, do you think it's going to be a possibility?
Alexander Mishulin: Now we are focusing on releasing the game in the best possible state. After we do that, we'll start thinking about expanding the experience somehow. Right now we don't know what it will be or whether it'll be happening.
Catherine Daro: There was a secret ending with Nyrissa in Kingmaker, will we have the same in WotR? Something that blows the community away?
Alexander Mishulin: Yes, there are some things [chuckling]. I cannot wait to see the reaction from the players.
Castielle Fextralife: Is the 2nd beta still available to the same people, and how long will it run?
Alexander Mishulin: Yes and new people can still join in, the beta will be available until close to the release, maybe several months.
Castielle Fextralife: Is this coming to consoles?
Andrey Tsvetkov: Definitely, we are interested in the console player base, but I can't share any details right now. [A/N: followed by a few jokes from all on how PRs refuse to answer some questions]
Catherine Daro: What feature are you most excited about for the community to check out in beta stage 2?
Alexander Mishulin: Several of them. Mechanics, we enjoy watching people making the builds and how they manage encounters with regards to difficulty settings. It gives us a lot of insight on what we could add / modify. We gather feedback on how people feel with the story and companions, sometimes we make changes to make them more interesting. This information is welcome, especially when you see them progress and change, sometimes into something you didn't expect. And of course mythic paths from all points of view because they are quite different from the tabletop experience, and they are deeply embedded in all other systems.
Guillaume D: Can you give some details about the mount system?
Alexander Mishulin: You'll be able to fight on your mount, any animal can be a mount but sometimes they have to grow up before you are able to mount them. When riding into battle, you fight simultaneously, the same target. Enemies will strike the mount first, then you, so they can act as a tank. Finally, they provide more movement on the battlefield.
Damien Brailey: What proportion/percentage of the game is focused on the management and battles vs regular player character RPG?
Alexander Mishulin: It's close to 10-15% of time in some chapters. There is no crusade at the beginning, then it begins progressively until it's fully-fledged. It's rather sandboxed so if you don't want to get side-tracked you can finish it off quickly. You can also switch it off entirely and it will happen in the background, but you'll be missing some of the reward items like relics.
Marko Matosevic: Will there be a respec option like in Kingmaker?
Alexander Mishulin: Yes, there will, it's the same system as Kingmaker.
Castielle Fextralife: Is there still stuff left to add to the game or are you just polishing it up now?
Alexander Mishulin: Some areas like archetypes and crusades are still being worked on, so it's not feature-complete. Most of the content is in there, probably 90% or so. A lot of developers are polishing, some are bringing the remaining content.
Andreas Garbe (ZDF): Last year we saw P&P games like Cyberpunk and even obscure ones like Paranoia become video games, and now Pathfinder gets a next same treatment. Why do you think we see this trend, are there advantages / disadvantages? Obviously you inherit a big fan base, but they have concrete expectations. How do you weigh that up? Do you see a trend?
Alexander Mishulin: It was an easy choice for us since we played a lot of Pathfinder on tabletop, and we saw a renaissance in the genre. We get a lot of feedback from players that allows making the game better.
As for the trend, I think that with the rise of indie projects, there are more dreams coming true. There are a lot of tools to bring games to Steam, GOG, and so on. Maybe Cyberpunk doesn't fit that category and is more a labour of love from CDPR, it's not close to the P&P. It's also a big AAA production.
Catherine Daro: Have you considered trying your hand at Starfinder next? Or do you prefer Pathfinder?
Alexander Mishulin: Tricky one. We played Starfinder a little bit, not as much as Pathfinder. Partly because it doesn't have as deep a history as Pathfinder 1E. Which one do we prefer? Each of them has its fun moments and can be made into a great game. Personally I'm a little bit more into Pathfinder stories.
Information aboutPathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
Developer: Owlcat Games
Combat: Pausable Real-time
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2021-09-02
· Publisher: META Publishing