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PATHFINDER ONLINE from Paizo and Goblinworks is a fantasy MMO based on the role-playing game that is rapidly replacing Dungeons & Dragons as the most played FRPG in the western world. The following text is from the Goblinworks page and the pictures on this page were found online. Games Gazette Online is not claiming any copyright on these pics and believes them to be in the public domain as they are readily available on the internet via Google Images.

A Fantasy Sandbox
The world of Pathfinder Online is highly persistent. You will make meaningful impacts on the world as you build structures, create a economy of player character crafted goods, and struggle for territorial control.

Open World PvP
You will struggle for control of territory, trade routes, and resources with other players. Conflict is central to the game, and often conflict will mean combat. Some areas of the world are safer than others - but the more risk you take, the greater the rewards you will earn.
Combat between player characters should be meaningful. Randomly attacking others without context will damage your character's reputation, affect their alignment, potentially flag the attacker for retribution by others, trigger bounties, and over the long term, force the character to live and train only with others of a similarly murderous bent, significantly impacting their abilities.

A Player Driven Economy
With the exception of some low-level gear for new players all the equipment, supplies, building materials, and consumables in the game will be created by player characters from resources they harvest and exchanged via in game markets. Characters will have to arrange to transport their raw materials, intermediate processed components, and finished goods to crafting facilities and then to active markets.

Develop Your Character The Way You Want To
You can play as an iconic role familiar to players of the tabletop Pathfinder roleplaying game - an adventuring hero like a Fighter, Wizard, Cleric or Rogue (and in time, like the other classes in the tabletop RPG) or you can explore many more ways to develop your character. The world of Pathfinder Online is a superset of the tabletop experience. Characters can be spies, diplomats, soldiers, teamsters, explorers, or hundreds of other occupations and specialties. You will determine how your character develops. Follow a traditional role, or mix & match character abilities as you see fit to create your own customized and unique approach.

            

At this moment in time the game is open for "early enrolment" which is rather like playing it Beta but a little further along. You begin the game by being offered the chance to create a character. At the moment the character selection and creation is pretty much less than basic and gives you very little flexibility. Your choice is to create a Human, an Elf or a Dwarf, selecting Male or Female at the same time. You then have three options of face, a few different hair styles and colouring for both hair and skin. Then you name your character and that's it, you're ready to start playing.

You open just a few metres away from a small settlement where there are a few NPCs who teach basic tutorials, mainly in the form of giving you tasks until you know how to walk, run, turn around and hit things with your club, having practised on the target dummy. There is very little to be found or learnt here which is, in my opinion not what a new player wants. For someone who has played DAoC, EverQuest and WoW it will appear sparse but you will already have an idea as to what to do. If you are brand new to MMOs then there really isn't enough help or information here. The tabletop games of Pathfinder I have played give players far more information than you get here so from the "based on" aspect at the moment (and I cannot stress enough that this is still under development) it is currently under developed.  At the Settlement you can elect to learn one of the few available character careers, mainly Rogue, Fighter, Wizard but with each character I have played from the beginning I have been told to speak to the Movement Tutorial NPC before being able to continue. 

The game gives players free roaming though I will guess that there has to be impassable mountains or oceans at some point. The overall gameplay is more in the style of games like Diablo than WoW. If you die you either end up back at the settlement or at the nearest checkpoint, although to be fair you don't get a message saying you have reached a checkpoint. What is a real pain though is that when you die everything that you were carrying in your inventory bags stays with your body. If you die again on the way back to your body then the first corpse disappears and you have lost everything, all the crafting resources, you have just collected over the past few hours of playing. That is frustrating and to be honest no fun. It's okay to say you should be more careful but it is easy to accidentally run into an enemy who is stronger than you - there is currently no indication of the level of your encounters.

At the starting Settlement your first quest is to go gathering plants etc from the nearby surrounding area. Sounds like a regular task that you get from all MMOs to bed you into the game, but the problem is the places that you can gather from are few and far between - the area may be green but it is almost a green desert as far as places of interest are concerned. Then there are the gathering nodes that you aren't of high enough experience to gather from. This on its own is acceptable, but once again there is no indication of this until you reach the node and attempt to gather. Speaking of gathering, this action takes 15-30 seconds just like it used to in DAoC, Star Wars and other early MMOs. It used to be like this in WoW but they learned from experience and player's reports and made collecting/mining/herb picking etc almost instant, not quite but a lot quicker. If Pathfinder Online is going to become the great game I think it could be, then it needs to make things a little easier for beginners or players starting totally new characters and do away with some of the time-loss actions.  Another task/quest I was given from the start settlement when I started my Rogue Dwarf character was to go to the neighbouring Settlement, knocking off Bandits on the way. There was no indication of which way I should be heading (such as an arrow or compass on the small map) and the Settlement didn't show on the map. 

I haven't played in a group yet mainly for two reasons, maybe three. The first is I don't know anyone of my friends or gaming acquaintances who are playing PATHFINDER Online; then nobody asked me to join them and the final reason is that I only saw about a dozen other player characters in the 6-8 hours I played (2 sessions of about 200+ minutes each) and apart from the couple who went past me fast and quite a distance away I couldn't recognise them as PCs, the others were just standing around doing nothing and not answering questions. This isn't anything to do with the game, in fact it is quite usual for a new MMO until people become familiar with it and how it works and plays.

         

Most of the above may sound negative towards the game but it isn't meant to be. The game is in its infancy and there is a lot more positives in it than negatives. At present it's like a basket full of laundry that needs sorting and ironing out. Only by people playing it, making notes and reporting things as they are rather than just letting the little things pass by unmentioned. Free roaming is good as long as there are places to visit and things to do; at the moment these things are hard to find. Unless all you want to do is run round killing monsters that are just standing around for no apparent reason there has to be more.

One thing I can say right away that impressed me is that when you use invisibility you can continue to do actions such as gathering without revealing your presence to local enemies. If you pass too close to an enemy though you are likely to be noticed and then they start to hit you or fire at you causing you to "pop" back into visibility. Your choice is then to stay and fight or run away. If you choose the former the enemy will have already got 2-3 good hits in one you before you react, and if you choose to run you should begin moving and then hit the Ctrl button asap which causes you to run (as in move faster) and generally you can outrun the enemy.

From a completely outsider's viewpoint I would say that at the moment players of Pathfinder RPG will not see enough similarities in the MMO version and MMO players who are mainly electronic (PC console etc) players aren't likely to turn to the RPG having played the computerised version. It's a bit of a standoff with neither side currently having an advantage.

PATHFINDER ONLINE is, in my opinion, not quite there yet but it is well on its way. The more people who join in the quicker it will grow into the community game it has all the right things to become.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015