Way back in 2012, a new game launched that had a huge amount of promise. Featuring a dream team of talent, such as writer R.A. Salvatore handling the story side of things, Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn) who handled the look of the game, and finally Ken Rolston, lead designer for Oblivion, it was obvious that it should be something special. The question I hope to address here is whether or not the game lived up to the early potential, or whether the involvement of EA was enough to derail the project. So, come with me to a world of magic and mayhem as we explore Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Now, the story of the game is always the most important thing to consider for titles in this genre, and luckily, with the abilities of Mr Salvatore, we were in safe hands. We are the Fateless One: a character who actually starts off the game dead, being wheeled through the halls of a citadel on a barrow, before being unceremoniously dumped into a pit with all the other failed experiments. Except – Spoiler Alert- we’re not actually dead any more! Somehow we have been brought back to life, and by being reborn, we have been cast adrift from the role that Fate had in mind for us, making us, in effect, a free agent, able to pretty much do as we wish. And as we have no memory of who we were before we died, what better mission than to defeat the Tuatha Deohn, their king Gadflow and save the entire world from being destroyed by their new God? Well, best strap on some weapons and armour and get cracking!
What made Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning so special, for me at least, was the amount of freedom that you had in order to save the world. You had choices in the character that you built, in the way that character was shaped, and even how you tackled the missions that came your way pretty relentlessly. The character generator was pretty good too, and you could build some truly hideous creations quite easily, so a big tick there. Choosing your race, whether it be Human, Varani, Elf or Dark Elf, male or female, and even how you looked and what your name was, allowed for the chance to truly make a character that represented you.
This freedom also carried on in the way that you chose to develop your character as you levelled up throughout your adventure. There were three main trees that you could spend your hard earned skill points in – Might, Sorcery and Finesse. Put all your points into Might and you’d build a tank, essentially, able to take and dish out huge amounts of damage while wielding massive hammers and two handed swords. Sorcery, it may surprise you to learn, let you concentrate on magic attacks, and these characters were at their best when slightly removed from actual peril, dealing damage from afar with powerful elemental attacks. The Finesse tree was all about stealth and being a classic rogue, essentially becoming a sneaky backstabbing thief who could get in, cause damage, and get out of harm’s way quickly. However, the power of the system was that you could mix and match the trees, so becoming a stealthy tank who could cast spells, for instance, was more than doable. And as you levelled up the trees, new options opened up for you.
Another cool feature was the Destiny system. No, not THAT Destiny, Bungie’s space based shooter, but you could choose different paths for yourself as Reckoning went on. These destinies that you unlocked were either passive, and so had all the effects all the time, or you had to actively choose to embrace them, becoming a more powerful magician with improved mana management, for instance. Add to this the gear that you could find, which often had requirements built in for a certain amount of points spent in a particular tree, and you could quite soon build a character that would do exactly what you wanted, fighting the way that you felt comfortable. Or, if you changed your mind, you could respec all the points and build a completely different character to see how they played.
It was this freedom that really sold Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to me. The rest of the gameplay, with the best will in the world, was essentially a series of glorified fetch quests, where we had to go somewhere, do something and then report back, and and while the story kept the game bowling along at a good pace, the amount of side quests available was enough to make your head spin. With huge side stories to find and complete, and also DLC that was released that added in extra locations and even more narrative, one thing the game wasn’t short of was content. The ability to tackle the missions in any order added yet more freedom, although sometimes you did have to temper that with a dash of caution, as it was very easy to end up in an area that you weren’t prepared for, getting roundly stomped by a massive troll, for instance.
With the remake now released – Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning – which features not only all the previous DLC in the package, but that has also been expanded with the Fatesworn expansion, the future continues to look bright for those wishing to visit the Kingdoms of Amalur.
But these articles are about looking back, not forward, and so I have to ask you guys out there: did you play Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning when it first released back in 2012? Did you finish it back then? (I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t as something new and shiny came along and that was that!). Have you played the new remake, and is it still as good today as it was back then? Let us know in the comments!
If you want to play Kingdoms of Amalur today, then your best bet is to pick up Re-Reckoning from the Xbox Store and play it on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S (or that of PlayStation or PC), as the original game was seemingly delisted upon that newer game launch. Alternatively, that original game is on Amazon as a physical copy.