Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning | Hands-On Preview
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been a bit of a tease ever since we saw the trailer debut in 2010. 38 Studios fed little bits of info every now and then with more teases about their accompanying MMO, Project Copernicus, since then. Gamers everywhere finally got a chance to play in these fabled Kingdoms of Amalur with the release of the demo on Xbox LIVE, PSN, and PC yesterday. For those that have already played, what did you think? Have the delays and secrecy amounted to anything? Here’s a little summary of the demo to see what you can expect when the game ships Feb. 7th.
The demo opens up with a little bit of dark and gory back-story. Turns out that your character died in a war and you’re about to be cremated. Already, you can tell that Kingdoms of Amalur gets pretty dark! You’ll pick your race and appearance before you go under, though, so there’s hope right? You awake in a heap of bodies for some mysterious reason and are tasked with getting the hell out of there. You’ll encounter enemies, pick up weapons, experience the looting system, and see some pretty neat looking areas within the cavern. At the end, your character finds out why he’s alive and that he’s kind of special which seems to be a theme in RPG’s lately. With that, the cavern is collapsing and the enemies standing between you and the exit consist of the army you died fighting against. Exploring more of Amalur’s mechanics along the way, like a stealth system that takes some notes from The Elder Scrolls, you’ll make your way out into the good-looking world of Amalur. Skills you can learn consist of the regular RPG selection and each level up grants you three points to spend in your Borderlands-esque skill tree. The way this tree is set up is promising and could lead to you being unstoppable since you’ll have 3 weapons, including magic, with a button press away. Looting also shines throughout the demo even though you can’t loot everything. It’s still fun to pick up cool loot especially when the loot looks good like Reckoning’s.
Combat is the creme of the crop here, or as shown by the demo. The Fable comparison start coming from the start, but it’s not a bad thing. You’ll dodge incoming attacks with a fast roll and dispatch foes with combos and finishing moves. You have a meter to fill at the top left that when activated, can turn you into a bigger badass with the option for a mean finishing move that kills everything in your way. As far as weapons go, you can have a primary and secondary and it looks like that it doesn’t matter what weapons you choose to put where, which is great if you hate having to manually switch in RPG’s. The comparisons to Fable pretty much stop here, though. Dialogue is done in the Bioware style radial menu that pops up in a conversation. These dialogue scenes don’t look great and aren’t particularly engaging, but the option to skip is there if you get bored and just want to fight something. On the presentation side of things, Amalur looks pretty old for a game that’s coming out this year. It’s disappointing for the way the colorful environments vary throughout the demo, but hopefully that just means 38 Studios focused on content.
Once you get to Amalur, you get a 45 minute exploration of the world around you. Conversations will pause the timer as Reckoning encourages you to explore the dialogue as much as the world. You’ll hit your first town and find a good bit of quests, including your introduction to factions in the game. Other than that, Amalur doesn’t show enough to set itself apart from the crowd. Nonetheless, Reckoning will still be a pretty good diversion from other RPG’s since the art style is different from most and the combat is Fable-y fun with plenty to loot and do in games many side-missions.
Try out the demo for yourself to see if you’ll visit the Kingdoms of Amalur next month!