Creating a brand new action RPG is no easy task, but 38 Studios have stepped up to the plate with Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning. No one can deny the calibre of the competition out there so they definitely had their work cut out for them, and for a first crack at it they have done pretty well.
First of all I’ve got to preface this with the fact that I haven’t actually finished the game. It’s a massive undertaking with the game having between 100-200 hours of content and at this stage I’m around the 40-50 hour mark. Of course there is the option of rushing through the game to finish the story line but that doesn’t really do justice to the massive amount of content that has been created by the development team.
The story is the classic fantasy tale of the world in peril and you are the only one who can save it. Don’t let that turn you off though because it is done a bit differently this time around. You begin the story by being brought back from death, and because you have already died then fate has no ties to you. The basic idea is that there is nothing holding you on a set path or destiny and because of that you have the ability to change the fate of others and of course the fate of the world.
Why is the world in peril? There is a race of magical beings called the Fae who are split into two factions, Summer and Winter, and some of the winter Fae called the Tuatha have decided that it’s time they took over the world. Normally the Fae are bound in a cycle of life and death and resurrection where they relive their lives over and over, however the Tuatha have discovered a dark magic which allows them to break those cycles effectively allowing them to destroy immortal Fae. That is where you step in on your noble quest to save the world!
The world of Amalur itself is split into five distinct zones each with around five to ten different areas within them. Even in the first few hours of play the games grand scale is evident in just the first zone with it taking you from dark underground ruins to dense spider-infested forests and from craggy canyons to fetid swamplands.
Within each of those zones you will find the crux of all open-world RPGs: quests, quests and more quests. Most of them are your average go here kill this, bring me this item, kill ten of these things, but some of them do mix it up with interesting different challenges and things to do. That may sound tedious, but to be honest most side quests in games are. The thing that keeps you going is of course the story line.
As I said before there is the option of skipping most of the side quests and just sticking with the main story quest line. Apart from being a completionist my main reason for not doing that was because of the grand scale of the world. The beautiful art you can find in random corners of the world and the great little side stories that you would miss if you skipped the side quests make it well worth your while. There are “Lorestones” strewn throughout the world usually in sets of 5 for you to find which tell tales about the area you are in, not to mention the obligatory books for you to collect and read in your own leisure if you’re into that (or if you want the “Read 50 Books” achievement or trophy). There’s no denying the amount of passion put into the art style, the history of the world, and the main story itself.
Levelling in Reckoning is done in a way that is very reminiscent of World Of Warcraft in that there are skill trees for Might, Finesse and Sorcery which you can put points in every time you level up, each of which refer to a particular class type: warrior, rogue, or mage. The other WoW type feature is that at any time in the game you can find a Fateweaver and “unbind your destiny” for a price, allowing you to distribute those class points into whatever trees you wish.
With each level you also receive points which you can distribute across different skills such as stealth, locksmithing, dispelling, detect hidden and more. When you unbind your destiny you also get all of these back, and you can visit trainers across the world to get permanent skill points added as well. The different skills systems are worth mentioning too with crafting systems such as alchemy and blacksmithing which speak for themselves and “sagecraft” which allows you to create and bind gems into weapons and armour to add stat bonuses. Each of these systems are really robust and customizable which not only saves them from becoming monotonous but also keeps them as a useful part of the game.
The combat is the real shining star in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning though. There are hundreds of different weapons to choose from from staves to daggers and swords and long range weapons like bows and my personal favourite the chakrams which are basically throwing rings which return to you. Then of course you have the different abilities based on your class choices which create combos for your fighting, and also include things like calling meteors to smash your enemies or summoning undead beings to fight alongside you. The best part is that because you aren’t bound to one class you can easily distribute points across all classes and be a mage who fights with daggers or a rogue who can rain lightning onto enemies.
With each fight you gain fate points which fill up a meter and allow you to enter Reckoning mode, which gives you a boost in strength and slows down time allowing you to devastate enemies. While in Reckoning mode you get the option to enter a quicktime event to increase your experience points by up to double. This all helps to keep the gameplay fresh as you meander through the hundreds of hours of content.
There are a couple of small bugs I have to mention here which include things like subtitles not lining up correctly with audio, which admittedly isn’t a big thing if you don’t use subtitles and audio at the same time, but I do so don’t judge me! If you do use subtitles though I would also suggest you don’t use a lorestone and there start a conversation with someone because the subtitles get all messed up then too. Apart from that the game runs smoothly, and the load screens in between zones aren’t so long that they become frustrating (I’m looking at you Skyrim).
I have been enjoying the time I’ve spent with the game, however I can see how it wouldn’t be everyone’s thing. If you are a fan of RPGs I definitely suggest you pick up this game and try it out for yourself because it’s worth it. If you do get it then keep in mind that 38 Studios will be releasing DLC for the game including the first pack which is due for release on March 20th called The Legend of Dead Kel.