Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Xbox 360

Game Description: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an epic, open-world role-playing game set in Amalur, a mysterious and magical new fantasy world created by New York Times best-selling author R. A. Salvatore. Brought to life visually through the trademark visceral style of renowned artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, Reckoning brings a new level of intense action combat to the RPG genre.
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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Hands-On Preview - E3 2011

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Hands-On Preview - E3 2011

By Eric Eckstein - Posted May 26, 2011

In our last Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning preview, we got our first look at 38 Studios' action/RPG, but there were a lot of questions: How interactive was this world? What was the Destiny system? How will quests play out? What is the Fate Shift meter? And most important of all: how does it play? Thankfully, a recent hands-on session with Reckoning shed a lot of light on all of these questions.

Kingdoms of Amalur

If you’re unsure what the game is aiming to be, check out our Reckoning preview for an update, but suffice it to say that the game is a combination of Fable-esque combat and Dragon Age-derived dialog/quests in a Skyrim-inspired open world.  Yes, big shoes to fill, but it’s working. My KoA demo began in the city of Rathir, the dark elves capital, and the last bastion of defense against the tuatha. The city has been under siege for 10 years, and as a port city, it is critical to the war effort. In this particular instance, it’s also a quest hub, full of NPCs to retrieve quests from or chances for the player to trade or craft items. It’s also a place to steal crap, allowing players to pickpocket people at will. Similar to Oblivion, there’s an indicator gauging if you’re being watched as well as a percentage roll behind-the-covers to see if you succeed. In this demo, we are nabbed robbing a civilian, and end up confronted by the city guard, who offers us three options: Go to jail, pay a fine, or resist arrest. Being as we’re in the midst of a capital city, it’s probably best to just pay the fine, however if we had chose to go to jail, players incur an XP penalty and have further options beyond waiting out their sentence. One can opt to fight the jailer to break out or pickpocket the key, which would be fitting considering how you landed in the joint in the first place.

It’s our first exposure to the choices you make in Reckoning, but certainly not the last. When speaking to a quest giver, we’re presented with a familiar dialog wheel allowing us to get more color on the quest at hand, to accept or decline the quest, or even engage in specific actions. For example, when offered money upon completion of a quest, I was able to attempt a dialog option to be paid up front, a racial specific skill, and one with only a 20 percent chance of success. If all that bores you, the dialog system is designed to provide the next steps front and center  so that casual players or those not invested in the story can move onto their next task easy peasy.

While Reckoning is clearly being designed as an action game, it’s not skimping at all on the RPG elements. Players will encounter forges, where they can salvage weapons they find in the field into parts. These grips, hilts, etc. can be used to create all new weapons; the better the parts, the better the weapon. And whatever you make, you’ll easily be able to determine as Reckoning boasts a "What you have is what you see" philosophy, i.e., you’ll see glowing frost on ice daggers or licks of flames from a fire-based sword.

There are also plenty of stats, and as players level up, they’ll put their points into a litany of skills to customize their way of play. In KoA: Reckoning, there is no class system, but as you put a certain amount of points in one of the skill trees (Finesse, Might, and Sorcery), you’ll unlock Destinies, which grant your character additional stat benefits or abilities. For example, in the demo we unlocked a Destiny, the Shadow Striker, that affected the way our teleport ability worked. Normally, we would be able to teleport in combat through enemies, but this Destiny allowed us to poison enemies we passed through. Destinies aren’t locked in stone, so you’ll leverage Fateweavers to set and unbind them, and with hundreds of them in the game, you’ll probably be seeing these gypsies a lot.

From the way you unlock fast travel options or stop to gather herbs, the familiarity of creative designer Ken Rolston’s Morrowind and Oblivion becomes that much more obvious, however the game itself plays like an Elder Scrolls title designed to prioritize action over sim. In the Xbox 360 demo I played, the combat mechanics were very simple one button presses: primary weapon on X and secondary on Y. Blocking at the right time is a successful parry that opens up other attack opportunities, and landing enough combos will open a Fate Shift kill boost, which multiplies your XP after mashing a particular button.

To be critical, there were some things I didn’t like with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and a few still unanswered questions. The world itself seems divided into small zones, so instead of adventuring in the wild, it’s more like traveling between levels a la Dragon Age II. A technical limitation, I’m sure, but loading screens are always one of the first things to knock on the immersion level. While it looks good graphically, it doesn’t have the same attention to detail seen in a game like Skyrim, though to be fair Reckoning isn’t slated to come out until Q1 2012, so that can certainly change. And I know it seems blasphemous, but I’m also still wondering if R.A. Salvatore’s story can really draw me into this all-new fantasy world, as whether the game sports a narrative as robust as The Witcher 2 or as lame duck as Dragon Age 2 remains to be seen.
Kingdoms of Amalur
I’ll admit, while I liked what I saw in the Reckoning demo during GDC, I wasn’t blown away by the game, as it seemed fairly derivative of other modern day RPGs. This latest demo though proved to me that not only is the team making sure these parts work well, but that an action approach to RPGs doesn’t have to be mindless hack/slash without depth. Reckoning is like playing out the combat sequences of Oblivion as an action game exclusively in third-person mode, and while it’s a different-style game, that doesn’t make it bad at all. In fact, I’d go so far to say that, if successful, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be the first step in a bold, refreshing shift for RPGs. And that would be a reckoning, indeed.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 in 2012.

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Comments are Closed

  • DcSalem

    Already pre ordered =)

    Posted: February 4, 2012 6:30 PM
  • WaterPhoenix

    The writer of this article clearly doesn't understand what they are talking about. At the start he says it has dragon age-esque dialogue and fable-esque combat. Neither of these are true.

    There is no morality system in reckoning (as has been stated by the devs so there is no way for it to have dragon age style dialogue. It has dialogue choices but they aren't anything like dragon age.

    As for combat it is nothing like fable. Fables combat was a basic attack string where pushing the attack button gets the same basic movement. In amalur the combat is contextual and will change based on what happens. If you do a basic aaaa combo you will get one move if you do that combo after a parry you will get a completely different move, if you break up the timing and hit a-aaa with a pause in the combo the move will be different. Plus you can switch between two different weapons at all times even mid combo changing the move chain more still.

    As for the claim of the world being made up of small zones that is incorrect as well. The devs stated at pax that the gameworld is made up of five massive zones with no load screens in between them.This is state between :32-:42 of the below link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=yWU8bc-y4xA&feature=rel ated

    Posted: May 28, 2011 7:52 AM

    DEF MUST BUY cant wait for it to come out for the ps 3

    Posted: May 26, 2011 9:34 PM
  • Aaron82

    seems good so far

    Posted: May 26, 2011 6:11 PM
  • xbonz


    Posted: May 26, 2011 6:10 PM
  • Dbunk

    Yep, every action/rpg is Fable. This seems to be much more rpg than Fable ever was.

    Posted: May 26, 2011 4:29 PM
  • vicer135

    Fable exactly... look at the medieval RV home in the last picture. That's taken directly from Fable.

    Posted: May 26, 2011 4:21 PM
  • marcusdjackson

    this could be awsume

    Posted: May 26, 2011 3:34 PM
  • 2ply

    This is the first i've read on the crafting system, it actually sounds pretty sweet, and i'm usually one to ignore crafting in most games.

    Looking forward to seeing how deverse the weapon customization plays out, hoping there will be tons of mix-matching appearance and stat/effect options, not just a handful though.

    Also this system better apply to armor too!

    But there was no mention of that here.. That would be a pretty big missed oppertunity, because there are very few games that let you fully customize your armor (outside of personally modding a PC game).

    Posted: May 26, 2011 12:23 PM
  • Zhar003

    uhm....this is fable lol

    Posted: May 26, 2011 11:43 AM