The moment I learned fantasy RPG Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous would let me ride a Triceratops, my character’s fate was sealed. You can keep your bards and bloodragers; being a beast rider’s where it’s at. Let’s see how much use the Flaming Sword of Zzanatharr is when Terry (the legally mandated name for any Triceratops) is driving his horn through your brain pan.
That’s not to say that adopting a Triceratops makes Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous a cake walk; unless you’re playing a small character (such as a gnome), you need to be level 7 before your prehistoric mount grows to a rideable, screen-dominating size. But when you do hit that milestone, having checked your XP level every 30 seconds, it’s every bit as amazing as you could imagine.
Even before I gored anyone, just stomping around the dungeon on my beast’s back left me with a grin a mile wide. Then I ran into a pair of foes who opted not to flee, a decision they regretted for the remaining 20 seconds of their lives, and I saw just how useful having a dinosaur on your side can be. Having a much smaller Terry follow me around the opening chapter’s beer festival had been fun, but this was a whole other level of awesome.
Growing up I was, like a lot of children, fascinated by dinosaurs but eventually moved on to other interests; given the choice of watching Jurassic Park or Dawn of the Dead, I’d pick George Romero’s zombie classic any day of the week. But as soon as my Triceratops started dishing out some damage, some long-dormant part of my brain sprang to life and I was a kid again, attacking Action Man with a plastic T-Rex.
It’s the animation that really sells Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous’s dino rampages, even if the isometric viewpoint means you don’t have quite a front-row seat. The low-level foes your Triceratops dispatches don’t fade out or crumple to the ground; they’re flung halfway across the room, landing in a bloody heap. Higher-level enemies are, naturally, more resistant to being impaled or trampled, but that never once stopped me from trying.
The icing on the cakeosaurus is that you can hurl spells and shoot a bow atop your mount, murderous master of all you survey. And especially if you’re playing in turn-based mode, you can fling a spell and then have your dinosaur follow up with a particularly brutal attack. “What’s that? You’re on fire? Here, let my friend stamp it out.”
There is a trade off, which is that you’re just as much a target as your prehistoric pal, and if they go down, you take a tumble too. But riding a triceratops was such a thrill that I got back in the saddle every time. There are zombie mammoths (no, really) that can make short work of you, so riding a dinosaur doesn’t put you at the top of the food chain. I also wish that the people you encounter, the ones who aren’t trying to kill you, would make more of your mount. But given their world is being turned into a living hell (and that dinosaurs, while uncommon, aren’t extinct), I can forgive their lack of astonishment.
Even when I was selecting my beast of choice, I still wondered if developer Owlcat was pulling some elaborate prank; this wasn’t Ark: Survival Evolved, after all. I certainly didn’t expect that one decision to dominate the game in the way it did. Yet, hours and hours of ridiculous Triceratops-riding joy later, I wouldn’t play Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous any other way. Well, apart from a Velociraptor run, maybe.