Pathfinder: Kingmaker launched in a sorry state, due to a number of bugs and poor design choices that made it hard to enjoy the game. The developers at Owlcat Games have done a great job improving Kingmaker since launch, but the best addition came from the fans, in the form of a mod that completely changed my opinion of the game.
Kingmaker is based on the Pathfinder tabletop RPG, which itself is an improved version of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Both Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder are turn-based games, as many tabletop RPGs are, but video games that have adapted them in the past have usually been real-time affairs. Games in the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series had combat that moved in real-time, with the player able to pause the action at any time in order to issue commands.
Kingmaker tried the same real-time (with pausing) approach, and it just didn't work for me. There was far too much going on in combat, especially as the game requires the player to operate at the same level as a group of Pathfinder players. You're expected to manage each of the six party member's abilities at once while getting wailed on by foes. The fact that the game can be brutally difficult in its opening hours turned Kingmaker into a frustrating experience, especially for someone who is a fan of the tabletop game. I've played a ton of Pathfinder in the past, but keeping track of everything in real-time was an exercise in frustration, especially when so many of the early foes have annoying abilities, like those tripping wolves.
When a Kingmaker port was announced for consoles, it was revealed that the game would feature a turn-based mode, which was inspired by a mod made for the PC version of the game. I was still feeling burnt by the game when reading about the turn-based mod, but I eventually became curious and decided to try it out. The turn-based mod for the PC version of Kingmaker can be found on Nexus Mods here.
Playing Kingmaker with the turn-based mod transforms it into a far better game. Kingmaker now resembled the game that inspired it, making it feel as if I was playing through the actual Kingmaker campaign from the tabletop RPG. Once everything was broken down into turns and movement speed, the whole thing clicked. Abilities that felt useless in the base game (like Charge or any of the bard powers) suddenly had a use. The ability to easily take five-foot steps meant that my archers and casters weren't getting butchered by attacks of opportunity when trying to take actions. The potions and scrolls I was stockpiling in the past now all had important uses in combat. I was no longer ending combat with all of my resources drained in a desperate bid to stay alive. Being able to plan a course of action and react to enemy decisions turned battles into a far more engaging and enjoyable experience.
All of this isn't to say that Kingmaker is a perfect game. It still has some incredibly frustrating moments, including a few terrible quests that all but require a guide in order to survive. In the past, these frustrating moments made me quit the game and turn my attention to other things, but the turn-based mod now makes me want to overcome the obstacles present in the story. Kingmaker has become a game that I want to see through to the end, rather than lamenting its wasted potential, as I did in the past.
The fact that Owlcat Games has announced a turn-based mode for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous shows that they know just how desirable this feature is, and I now cannot wait to tackle that game when it's finally released.