E3 2011: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Preview – War, What is it Good For?
Written Tuesday, June 14, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Waking up from the dead is usually a good thing… I mean, how often is it that you get a second chance with the game of life? Never is the answer. But in 38 Studios’ debut title, Reckoning, it’s not necessarily a good thing… or is it? After being brought back from the dead, the game’s main protagonist is thrust into a world driven by destiny, but thanks to the Well of Souls, our main man has no such destiny attached to him. So it’s up to you then to guide him through the world, changing it and everyone else’s destiny with it along the way
So what is Reckoning? In short, it’s a traditional RPG, but 38 Studios is looking to offer so much more than that with its action-heavy combat. While our first look at Reckoning gave us a glimpse at the basics and the very beginning of the game, our latest look at E3 2011 took a look at one of the 6 playable faction quest lines, specifically the Warsworn faction.
Before I proceed, let me number crunch a little and give you a little more insight into Reckoning. After choosing from 4 races – both male and female – and customising the hell out of them – including piercings, tattoos, hairstyles and so on – players will be then be able to traverse across 5 distinctive environments, 125 dungeons, delve into 4 huge cities and countless towns, partake in over 100 side quests on their journey through Reckoning’s mysterious land. Players may even choose to pick flowers, pick pockets, loot corpses, get involved in some alchemy, blacksmithing, sagecrafting and so on. In fact, according to Mark Nelson, Reckoning’s Creative Director, “It’s all about choice and how you choose to play.” There are even “hundreds of thousands of unique armour and weapons,” says Nelson, to keep players searching for the next fancy piece of kit.
With 3 tree skills that you can pick and choose from, Reckoning puts no pressure on you to pick and choose only one path, but your choices and how you build your character will unlock certain “destinies” for you. These can be equipped by players throughout and will offer them systemic bonuses.
So, as I was saying, we picked up our hands-off E3 demo taking a sneak peek at one of the Warsworn faction’s storyline quests: “The Hearts of Sibun.” The melee centric order, known very often as swords for hire, were originally founded to hunt ancient beasts known as the Niskaru, who were generally held as the stuff of legends, but have recently been appearing once again. We pick up with our main, but unfortunately silent, protagonist as we meet up with Ost Ordura of the faction at the base of a cavernous dungeon, moments before we loot the corpse of a thief and pick up a Helm of Helius – a yellow item, which is one of a set and can be equipped from the loot menu.
As the main protagonist descends further into the dungeon, it becomes clear where these Niskaru are coming from, with a group of mages summoning them into cages. From here all hell breaks loose as our main man takes on the Niskaru Bloodhunters – wily creatures with blades on their hands – and the mages simultaneously, dealing out fierce and fast blows.
“Your success in combat isn’t going to be predicated upon by how fast you can press buttons or whether you can memorise long complex combos,” says Nelson. “RPGs are about choice and your success in combat is going to be based on choice. The choice on how you invest in your skills and abilities. What kind of destiny you choose to equip. The choice in what kind of gear you choose to equip. Then your moment to moment choices like combat strategy.”
After sending the Niskaru and the mages to hell and back, we proceed further into the dungeon, using the “Detect Hidden” skill to detect new paths, find secret treasures and even see traps. If you invest more points into your Detect Hidden skill, you can even disarm traps and use the pieces for blacksmithing later on. Using the Detect Hidden skill to navigate a series of traps and find a warded chest, we dive into the dispel mini-game – a game that was a little baffling without any sort of explanation from 38 Studios. From there 38 Studios continues to show us the importance that stealth can play as the main protagonist sneaks up to a couple of isolated bandits and manages to perform a silent stealth kill.
Another aspect of Reckoning is the aptly named “Reckoning mode,” which allows players to enter a temporary state where they can not only slow down time and are faster and stronger, but where they can perform “Fate Shift Kills” as well. In order to enter this mode, players must fill up their Threads of Fate meter, which is done so by gathering purple energy from downed foes. And what better way to end the demo than with one of these Fate Shift Kills, which are truly spectacular and brutal, and ripping through the huge Niskaru Tyrant with ease was certainly the highlight of the demo and a great way to end.
Continuing on from the decent debut showing we saw a few months back, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s continues on in the same fairly rich vein. Although Reckoning doesn’t really do anything awe-inspiring or particulary original, it seems as though 38 Studios has amalgamated a bunch of mechanics and tried and tested formulas from RPGs of years gone-by and thrown them all into one title. It’s as old-skool an RPG that we’ve seen for ages, but that really doesn’t come as a surprise with old-skool Elder Scrolls designer, Ken Rolston, at the helm.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is scheduled for a 2012 release.