What is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning?October 29, 2011 by: RPG Reviewer
Release: Now Available | Platforms: PC, XBox 360, PS3 | Overview: A single player fantasy role playing game set in the open world of Amalur and played in third person view. Curt Shilling, joined by famed writer R. A. Salvatore, comic book legend Todd McFarlane and Ken Rolsten, lead designer from Morrowind and Oblivion, have come together to create a groundbreaking new game that pushes conventional RPG standards to the limit.
What is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning?
Quick Facts: Single-Player RPG, Open World, High Combat Action
WATCH MOVIE: Overview of the Game (Recommended)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, or what I’ll call just Reckoning, is a single-player open world role-playing game with intense combat action. It is being specifically designed for PC, Xbox and PS3 without any console ports. First and foremost, it’s a true role-playing game with all of the typical micro-managing control and deeply immersive lore that any good role-playing game should have. Secondly, it’s an intense action combat game comparable to God of War with a similar look and feel to Fable.
The game is currently being developed by Big Huge Games, which was acquired by Curt Shilling at 38 Studios. At his side are three very notable names that have been contributing their vast knowledge and talents to make this a truly stellar game. The “Visionaries” behind this game are R.A. Salvatore, a New York Times bestselling author, Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn and Ken Rolsten, lead developer on Oblivion and Morrowind. Behind them is an extremely dedicated and hard working team that are truly proud of this game and how it is shaping up (following the forums quickly shows how intense they feel about Reckoning).
The Lore Behind It
Quick Facts: It’s drawn from a 10,000 year history and takes place in the Faelands during the Age of Arcana. Your character has no fate. You get to decide your own fate and change the course of history as you progress through the story. All game elements are consistent to lore and have a specific purpose.
WATCH MOVIE: Story of Reckoning (at 3:58)
Every great RPG is strongly founded in deep, rich lore. One of Reckoning’s biggest assets is a 10,000 year history crafted by R.A. Salvatore specifically for the world of Amalur. Reckoning takes place in a tiny sliver of this history. In the Age of Arcana, where magic is in its infancy. The Faelands are in turmoil with an impending war on the horizon.
Your story begins by waking up on a pile of corpses only to quickly discover that you already died. Your resurrection by the gnomes at the Well of Souls was not expected by anyone, including the gnomes, and you learn that your existence is about to unbalance the entire world as it’s currently known.
Destiny and Fate
In Amalur, everyone’s fate is already determined. Individuals called Fateweavers are able to see the future and fate of every creature and its destiny. All of history is set in stone – until you come back. Ignorant of your past, you learn that your resurrection and continued existence unravels the fate of everything you come across. You are altering the course of history.
No More Classes
Quick Facts: Classes are replaced by “Destinies”. Destinies are based off skill assignment. There are 40 possible destinies available. There are 9 non-destiny abilities. Level cap is set at level 40. Special Twist of Fate cards are granted at milestones which give added permanent bonuses. Points can be reset for a cost.
One of the most exciting and innovative ideas for me with Reckoning, is the idea of Destinies. The Destiny System replaces the typical “class” system, where you have to decide what type of character you want to play before you even try it out. You are stuck. With destinies, you are given way more flexibility on your play style and it enables you to change your destiny on a whim.
There are three basic skill trees you can assign points into as you level up to level 40. These are Might, Magic and Finesse. Each tree is filled with combat modifiers, special attacks, spells, weapon specialties, summonables and more. As you spend points in these trees, the game monitors your choices and unlocks destinies based upon how you spend those points. The destinies are granted to you in the form of cards. You can equip one of the cards, or destinies, to grant specific bonuses and skills based upon that destiny. For example, if you spend 11 points in just the Might tree and none of the others, you will be granted a Brawler destiny which gives you added attack damage and blocking. Or if you spread your points between the Might and Finesse tree, you might get the Warden destiny which gives you both melee and ranged bonuses. The game also rewards you if you play in the style that is typically frowned on by RPG’s, the Jack-of-All-Trades. Those who choose to spread their points out in all three trees gain abilities that augment those choices and allow you to specialize in all three styles. Should you ever decide you want to wipe the slate clean, you can visit a fateweaver and for a cost and they’ll reset your points for you to re-assign.
In addition to your destinies, the game will occasionally reward you with rare Twists of Fate cards. These are destiny modifiers that grant you permanent added bonuses to your character when you achieve certain quest milestones or tough boss kills.
The game also allows you to specialize in various non-destiny abilities that can severely impact your game. You are granted one point per level to assign into one of nine passive skills. These skills are: Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Detect Hidden, Dispelling, Lock picking, Mercantile, Persuasion, Sage craft and Stealth. Each tree has 10 levels until maxxed out.
Crafting and Smithing
Quick Facts: Blacksmithing (Armor & Weapons), Alchemy (Potions) and Sagecraft (Socketable Gems). Materials are bought, harvested or looted. Crafting can be done at stations located in cities or in your home. Unwanted weapons and armor can be broken down into materials and wanted items can be augmented with special bonuses and effects. Hand-made items can be named.
WATCH MOVIE: Skills & Crafting (Great Overview of crafting)
Reckoning has three separate crafting opportunities. You can utilize Blacksmithing, Alchemy and Sage craft. Each of which you can attempt either in your local town or if purchased, in your own player house. Materials for crafting can either be found out in the world, purchased from a vendor or salvaged from your unwanted weapons and armor. These skills can be improved by spending points in their ability trees.
WATCH MOVIE: Blacksmithing (at 6:00)
This skill allows you to forge new armor and weapons or repair the ones that have sustained damage.
This craft allows you to brew your own potions and poisons from your basic heal potions to deadly toxins to apply to your weapons. It also improves your ability to harvest reagents from the wild.
WATCH MOVIE: Sagecrafting (at 6:30)
Being proficient in sage craft gives you the ability to augment your gear with added powers and bonuses. You can take shards and materials you find in Amalur and create gems which you can apply to your gear.
One exciting little note: Handcrafted items you make can be named to your own liking.
“Guided” Open World
Quick Facts: Takes place in the Faelands of Amalur, which is made up of 5 massive territories each with 5 to 10 cities or areas to explore. Over 120 hand-crafted unique dungeons. Complex monster and NPC AI. Player Housing is available. Contains hidden traps and doors and locked or warded chests.
WATCH MOVIE: Concerning Open World (at 22:25)
What does the term Guided Open World mean? While the territories themselves are huge, they are connected by natural pathways. In addition, BHG under the guidance of Ken Rolsten focused more on providing more content in any given space rather than unlimited space with nothing in it to do. That’s not to say the world is still not huge. One reviewer spent a solid 7 hours trying to get from one edge of the game to the other and didn’t make it. While BHG hasn’t announced the exact square miles of the game, everyone who’s played the game can attest to the massive size of the Faelands.
While most games tend to leave dungeons and interiors on the backburner and clone them in later, Reckoning has taken special care to individually handcraft over 120 dungeons to be truly unique and fun to explore and with some fitting rewards for doing so. Possible dungeons hinted at are explorable trees, labyrinthine prisons, ruins, caverns and so many more. Once you have discovered a city or dungeon, you will then be able to fast travel directly to them in the future.
Upon your many adventures you will inevitably cross the path of many monsters. Monsters will have their own complex AI’s. Some of my personal favorites mentioned by the developers are boggarts chasing fireflies. They will have natural enemies they will attack. They also have in-depth combat AI that ranges from cowering in fear to never surrendering.
Beware the traps and wards. Unless you’ve invested in Detect Hidden, you will invariably stumble across complex traps that will have drastic effects on your health. As you come upon that glowing chest, you may find it has a ward or a lock upon it that you’ll need to play a mini-game to succeed or fail in your goal. Failing can curse you which you’ll need to visit your local healer to be cured of.
Finally, at the end of your long and treacherous adventures, you can head home to your player house. Apparently there are several homes that you can quest for, purchase or obtain that you can rest in, store your loot, showcase your pets, change your appearance in a special mirror, craft in (if you have the crafting tables) or even explore tunnels underneath your very own castle.
Quick Facts: The game is entirely in third person view with unique UI’s and controls for each console or the PC. There are two swappable weapons slots. Archery is available. All play styles are viable and effective in combat with unique abilities to compensate for weaknesses.
The entire game is designed and controlled for third person view. The camera intuitively follows you and cleverly adjusts to make sure there are no unfair shots from monsters. Encounters are often designed to force to you control several enemies at once. Using your attacks and spells, you have to strategize which enemies to kill first and which to hold at bay. Each monster has its own strengths and weaknesses which you’ll have to learn quickly to survive.
Each destiny play style has been meticulously tested to ensure it is a viable build in combat. In Reckoning, as a mage you are oftentimes forced into the forray. Due to the destiny system, you are granted certain attacks and moves that allow you to stun enemies or teleport through them to keep them at bay while you blast spells at them from your staves or scepters. Finesse style characters are either quick with fast attacks or strategically timed with shots from a bow. Finally, should you desire to bear down on your enemies face to face and crush them with your hammer, the might based players will excel the best. The combat styles are varied and so much darn fun to watch.
As you are tearing through your enemies, you’ll notice that your fate meter is slowly filling up because you are siphoning the unused fate from them. Once your meter is full, you can enter what’s called Reckoning Mode. Reckoning Mode is a timed event that darkens the screen, slows down your enemies and makes your character extremely powerful. Should you decide to trigger a Fate Shift Kill, which are akin to glorified Finishing Moves in Mortal Combat, you will enter a mini-game which allows you to earn bonus experience for each enemy you’ve killed during Reckoning Mode. Be sure to check out the video above and watch this in action.
Reckoning is being individually designed for PS3, Xbox 360 and the PC. Each one has its own unique UI and controls. Many developers have said, while the PC controls will be extremely fluid and well tested, sometimes it just feels better on the controller. So for those who wish to plug their controller into the PC, the game will instantly adjust the UI and controls to the controller style you’ve plugged in. Yeah, that’s just awesome. Combat in Reckoning is not a bunch of memorized combos, but a series of well timed button presses with just a few buttons controlling 2 weapons that you can instantly switch out and a shield or block.
To Quest or Not to Quest
Quick Facts: There is a main quest line, 6 full faction quest lines and hundreds of side quests. There is no good/evil scale but your choices do have consequences. Romance and children are not in the game. Breaking the law could land you in prison. NPC’s (except main quest line) can be killed and quest chains broken. 60,000 + voiced dialogue lines (NPC only). Lore stones are scattered throughout Faelands and collecting/finding sets of them grant added bonuses. Quest advancement dialogue options are highlighted to get back to the action.
Reckoning has a main quest line, which leads you on a fox chase of discovering your past and at the same time leaving quite a mark as you progress. Ultimately leading you to some sort of victorious ending which is yet to be revealed. In addition to the main quest lines there are 6 major faction quest lines that you can pick and choose from or if you’re ambitious, you can complete them all. Each offers their own challenges and benefits. Finally, you can choose to wander off and embark upon hundreds of unaffiliated quests that typically lead to some sort of reward of experience, gold or loot.
Developers have stated that it is possible to avoid ALL quests and play the game strictly by exploring and grinding. While exploring you might cross a lore stone which will speak to you and tell you a story. Lore stones are discoverable in sets and grant you bonuses if you completely discover a set. You may also kill any and all quest givers with the exception of main quest line non-player characters. This, of course, will have its consequences should you choose to take that course.
Dialogue is spoken by the NPC’s, but your character does not have spoken dialogue. Choices to have positive or negative consequences and each choice will either progress you in the quest or allow you to delve deeper into the lore. The correct dialogue to progress will be highlighted if you want to get back to the fighting quickly.
Breaking the law will quickly get the attention of the guards if you are not adept at sneaking. From there you can choose to fight your way out, bribe them or serve your time. It’s also been mentioned that in one of the Fae cities, if you break the law and go to prison you actually get sent to a labyrinth where you have to survive to prove your innocence.
Armor, Weapons and Wombats
Quick Facts: Hundreds of hand-crafted weapons and armor, with a claimed 200+ unique armor sets. In addition, a prefix and suffix item randomizer will allow for millions of possible items. Items can be augmented with gems to improve their stats. Loot can be stashed in junk, equipped and compared from the loot screen instantly. Inventory is based off a set number of items (approx. 70) which can be increased with backpacks. You can create your own custom armor and weapons and give them a fitting name.
Okay, I’m sorry. Weapons and armor in this game just look plain awesome to me. Some of the leaks from the developers about the weapons and armor had me drooling. They mentioned a sword that is flesh covered and has eyes that move on it. They’ve mentioned weapons that change stats and effects from nighttime to daytime. There are so many more examples that I can’t wait to find on my explorations.
In addition to the random item generator that adds prefixes and suffixes, BHG hand crafted hundreds of weapons and armor for this game. It’s been mentioned that there will be 200+ unique armor sets. If you cannot find that perfect weapon, you can always make your own at the crafting stations. You can break down those items you find that you don’t want and make them into something awesome you can use, then you get to give it your own name, Flaming Helm of the Wombat!
Inventory is restricted by the number of items you are carrying. Recent demos have shown that number to be approximately 70, but that could adjust based off your bonuses and purchased backpacks. When looting, you are able to immediately compare the items to you equipped items and immediately stash it or junk it. If you junk it, the next time you visit a vendor you can sell off all your junk at once.
Pre-Order Bonus Items!
The game is set to release February 7th and 10th, but you can pre-order the game now. A Collector’s Edition is available via 38 Studios online store. You’ll need to make sure you purchase the game for the right platform. I’ve put some links below to Amazon if you like to shop there (like I do), for the regular edition. I’m also posting a link to some controllers if you want to play on the PC and not use the keyboard and mouse. Pre-Ordering from Amazon gives you two bonuses. The first is a Dowsing Rod, which reveals harvestables on the game map and gives you bonuses to Alchemy. The second is a full set of Fate Touched Weapons which includes one weapon of each type in the game. It’s a great starter set that gets you into the action right away! Good luck and I hope you enjoy this game as much as I know I’m going to. February can’t come soon enough!
ORDER KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RECKONING
Release Date: Now Available and February 10th, 2012 (Overseas)
Developed by Big Huge Games
Published by EA Games
Platforms: PC, XBox 360, Playstation 3
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Screenshots from the game.
Sources: The Official Reckoning Forums, Reckoning Wiki page, gamebreaker.tv