Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning First Impressions - What Ya' Reckoning?
Written Tuesday, March 15, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
What happens when you throw New York Times’ best-selling author, R.A. Salvatore, renowned comic book artist and creator of Spawn, Todd McFarlane and Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s Lead Designer, Ken Rolston into a pot? Simple, you get Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a game that can only be described as a traditionally old-skool action-RPG.
So that means you should expect a class-based action-RPG with open-world exploration, a vast narrative and character customisation galore. And it wouldn’t be an old-skool RPG without loot, and according to 38 Studios you can expect a “Diablo-like loot system” in Reckoning… so quit ya’ whining.
We kicked things off with the recent hands-off presentation in Reckoning with 38 Studios showing off its pre-game character customisation system. Ever hated playing an RPG for 10 hours only to realise that you picked the wrong class? If the answer is yes, then Reckoning looks to remedy that by not having the age-old class selection system. Instead, players are invited to choose an origin of sorts, which carries bonuses for characters, including which God you bow down to; again offering the player further bonuses to make good use of. From there players can level up as they see fit, combining the power of a warrior with the agility of a rogue, or the agility of a rogue with the arcane skill of a mage. If the answer is no, you've always got your class right first time, well I’m sorry we can’t all be as perfect as you. Spoilsport.
Reckoning kicks off in a cavernous environment with our character being the first to rise from the dead thanks to something called the Well of Souls. According to 38 Studios, your fate in the title is not set as a result and you’ll spend your time changing not only your fate, but the fate of the people you interact with. As I stressed originally, this is a traditional old-skool RPG, so expect the usual RPG staples such as XP systems; damage floaties; alchemy; sage-crafting; blacksmithing; and even an unlevelled world, meaning that you need to be careful you don't stumble into the wrong dungeon at the wrong time. There will be visual signposts though so this won’t happen too often, but honestly, that’s how we like our RPGs anyway. Accessible-schmacksessible.
Boasting 5 regions and a night/day cycle, which gives each environment a new look and feel, Reckoning, like Fable, takes the day/night cycle and incorporates that into the combat. That means some weapons will work better at certain times of the day and others will be stronger against certain foes and whatnot. From an environment standpoint though, Reckoning seems to be heading in the right direction drawing inspiration from Oblivion’s Imperial City and Fable’s green pastures of Albion, which is abundantly clear from the offset. With medieval-esque British settlements, misty caverns, awe-inspiring dungeons, murky swamps and crystalised jungles, variety seems to be the spice of life in Reckoning.
The combat in Reckoning on the other hand is shaping up to be quite simplistic, offering a sort of lift and juggle combat to mix things up a little. In short, it’s one-button combat, but it seems to be a little deeper than that thanks to the ability to block and parry, as well as switch weapons – that you assign to the face buttons – on the fly. Not massively complex, but in a way, that should be a good thing.
Not being pigeonholed as a class has its advantages in combat more than any other aspect, meaning you can create more combat-centric mages, who not only take on the mantle of ranged attack, but also attacks on a much more up-close-and-personal basis. You can even block as a mage – although it’s not as effective as a warrior-based focus – and even the dodges integrate your class strengths into their animations, meaning mages teleport instead of rolling away like a rogue… Can you tell we’re a fan of the ol’ mage class? Oh, and there’s kill moves too… and they’re gruesome. Shibby!
It’s very early – like, pre-alpha early – to ascertain how Reckoning will shape up as a whole, but with shades of Fable and Oblivion in some of the core mechanics, 38 Studios seems to be treading a path that puts the role-playing firmly back into the role-playing game. With simple one-button combat, picturesque and beautifully crafted environments, a sensible class system and plenty of RPG, it’d be easy for me to say that this is the direction Fable might have gone if Molyneux and co. hadn’t become so obsessed with accessibility… so I won’t. Although, by saying that, indirectly I have done. Now if that isn’t a head fuck, I don’t know what is.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is heading your way sometime in 2012.