Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is something of a hidden gem in the rough. This third-person open-world action RPG, developed by Big Huge Games & 38 Studios and published by Electronic Arts, launched in 2012 only to have its thunder stolen by bigger releases such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
The future did not seem too bright for the franchise but this is where THQ Nordic comes in. In September 2018, the company finalized the deal to acquire the rights for Kingdoms of Amalur and the related property from 38 Studios.
The game’s fanbase held its collective breath, waiting to see where it would be taken by the new publisher. And now we have it, the remaster inviting players back into Kingdoms of Amalur for some Re-Reckoning as well as announcement of a new expansion. Called Fatesworn, it is expected to arrive in 2021.
What does fate have in store for you?
In the very beginning of the game you discover that the protagonist has been killed in the war between the Fae King Gadflow and his followers known as Tuatha Deohn against the mortal races of Amalur. The world knows that it is only a matter of time before the army of the immortal Fae takes over. Or is it?
Your character awakens brought back by the Well of Souls, the first and only success of the secret gnomish project. Before you might learn more, the structure is attacked by the followers of the mad king, forcing you to flee for your re-acquired life.
However, there are certain side-effects to cheating death and being brought back. For once, your character lost their memory in the process of being resurrected. Secondly, while all creatures of the world have threads of Fate commanding the way their lives will turn out, your character is now a Fateless One. Your destiny is your own and ready to be forged into the shape of your choosing. Who knows, maybe along the way you can also change fates of those around you!
The beauty of Amalur
Having recently re-played a part of the original game in order to refresh my memory for the remaster, I’m still blown away by how ridiculously well the game aged due to its stylized graphics and smooth animations. Add improved graphical fidelity and higher screen resolutions in Re-Reckoning, and the world of Amalur blooms with new life.
From cities to waterfalls to deserts to caves, the world of Amalur is full of character – and characters. Many monsters and creatures have unique designs that make them easily recognizable among other fantasy RPGs. However, Amalur has the same problem that is plaguing many other titles: there are only so many monsters, and you will be fighting re-skins through the whole game.
If you are interested in seeing how the graphics changed between the Reckoning and the Re-Reckoning, check out the gallery below.
The remaster introduced few changes to the gameplay of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. If you have played the original game, you will know exactly what it is like to play the remaster. However, if you are new to the world of Amalur, dive right in!
Following a short intro cutscene, you will be able to create your Fateless One. The redactor gives you a choice of gender and 4 races: Almain (noble humans), Varani (nomadic humans), Dokkalfar (dark elves) and Ljosalfar (light elves).
Additionally, you can customize your character further by changing the color of skin, hair, eyes and eyebrows and changing the shape of face, hairstyle, adding jewelry and tattoos.
The character redactor also gives you a choice of deity that you can decide to follow for some in-game perks like extra crit damage. You can decide to follow no god to get a boost to experience instead.
As you progress through the game, you are able to try various ways to tackle combat. Are you more of a heavy-clad hammer-wielding warrior? Nimble and agile assassin? Hawk-eyed archer? Wise sorcerer? You can be any of the above by spending points in the respective talent tree – Might, Finesse and Sorcery – or you can become an universalist that is a bit of everything.
Spending a certain number of points in a tree will unlock a Destiny – an analogue of class used in Amalur, giving your character bonuses and affecting the way you play the game. Unlike normal mortals, the effects of Well of Souls allow you to unlock and swap between multiple Destinies.
There are also so called “Twists of Fate” – cards that you unlock through gameplay and that grant you passive bonuses.
Combat / Difficulty
Amalur’s combat is moderately-paced and closer to an Action RPG or even a Slasher than it is to pure RPG when it comes to action. You can have two weapons equipped as well as a shield to defend yourself against enemy attacks with.
Each type of weaponry feels different and affects how combat is going. Two-handed hammers have devastating damage and impact but are also very slow. Daggers are the fastest weapon in the game but their damage is relatively low per attack. On the other hand, you can utilize stealth to terminate your target quickly and soundlessly!
Sorcery utilizes spells that require mana. While it slowly restores on its own and can be replenished via potions, you better watch out for that blue bar to not be caught unawares.
Regardless of your chosen specialization, you also have access to roll (Blink for sorcerers) to avoid enemy attacks.
The biggest minus when it comes to combat is the awkward camera that can get in your way more than enemies.
While you can certainly complete a game specialized completely in a single tree, it can be both beneficial and extremely fun to spend at least a few points in the other two trees. While you have your inventory open, the game world comes to a halt allowing you to swap gear sets completely depending on the situation.
Sneaking through generic castle and assassinating guards? Can do. Swapping to a huge hammer to bring the last boss to its knees for some sweet loot? Yup! Encountering a foe that has physical resistances? Throw a fireball at it!
On the other hand, always having an answer to every hardship lowers the game’s difficulty drastically. Additionally, Amalur lets you craft gear that is quite honestly simply overpowered.
Those looking for a challenge will be happy to know that Re-Reckoning has added a new difficulty mode, Very Hard (as opposed to Hard being the highest difficulty in the original).
Reckoning Mode / Fateshift
While fighting and killing off enemies, you will be slowly filling a bar for super mode known as the Reckoning mode. For a limited period of time it in-game movement of time, slowing your enemies to a halt, and allows you to deal terrifying amounts of damage, leading to epic finishers – Fateshifts.
You won’t be seeing this mode a lot due to the ease with which you can dispose of non-boss enemies, but every use of Fateshift will be as memorable as it gets.
The visual of the Fateshift is chosen by the type of enemy and is not affected by the equipped weapons. My favorite is probably the Spear that you will be using against the very first mini-boss in the starting location.
There is a lot of loot in Amalur. No, let me even say it is this way: there is A LOT of loot in Amalur.
You can open a random basket on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere and receive a “purple” weapon. Meanwhile almost dying due to failing to dispell a ward on a box or breaking a set of lockpicks to open a chest would provide you with something worse than you already have.
Re-Reckoning changed the way the loot generation works so that you will be able to receive the loot that fits your character specialization more often.
You might also want to level blacksmithing and jewelcrafting to be able to craft OP gear – thankfully crafting reagents don’t take up bag space, so you can collect stuff to your heart’s desire.
Questing / Open World
The world of Amalur is large and filled to the brim with quests, caves, chests, crafting reagents and more. Through your adventuring you will open fast-travel points so you don’t have to spend literal hours running from place to place.
Nevertheless, there will still be a lot of running involved, especially if you are a completionist and feel the need to complete every side-quest like I do. There are hundreds of them, some memorable, some less so – go, bring, kill, guard, fetch and return.
It is in this area that the game shows its age. Since 2012, we have seen a huge number of AAA open-world games, RPGs or otherwise, and the ways to interact with it have changed for the better.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning feels like an MMORPG for one, with all the pros and cons that come from that feeling. Namely, quests that don’t feel interesting, empty locations, repetitive caves/dungeons/castles, endless grind and A LOT of back-and-forth. About halfway through the game I usually run out of steam despite the plethora of content and impressive combat.
But you don’t have to deal with other players, at least! No pesky representatives of other factions (or your own) stealing your resource node or something of the sort.
If you want your character to be very strong and learn more about what is happening in the world of Amalur without wasting away in front of your monitor, I recommend doing the main quest, the quests provided by the 4 factions and DLCs along with any side-quests you naturally run into and can easily finish on your way.
Amalur’s side-quests can overwhelm even a veteran RPG/MMORPG player and it says a lot.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is available in two editions on Steam: there is a Standard Edition for $40 that includes the remastered game with all DLC from the original release, like Teeth of Naros and Legend of Dead Kel.
There is also the Fate Edition for $55 that contains the Re-Reckoning main game, the official soundtrack and the upcoming content DLC Fatesworn that extends the game of 5+ hours and that will be released post launch, expected 2021.
As much as I would like to recommend Re-Reckoning, I suggest waiting for discounts before diving into the game. Sure, it is nice to revisit the Kingdoms of Amalur in HD but the very core of the game is still very 2012. It is especially noticeable by the huge UI taking over half of your screen regardless of the resolution you use. Unlike TESV: Skyrim that came out in the same year, Amalur has not been modded by the community to the same degree and still offers a very vanilla experience.
At the moment many other titular RPGs are offered with a huge discount – Dragon Age Inquisition GOTY Edition (Steam), TESV: Skyrim (Humble Bundle), even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY Edition (Steam). I feel like the games above provide a more modern, deeper experience than Re-Reckoning, and a cheaper price. They are also supported by a variety of fan-made mods available via Nexus.
Similar to: Fable, Divinity 2: Ego Draconis
Note: the Steam key for Re-Reckoning has been provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review