E3: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning shoves everything you love about the best RPGs into one package.
I was very impressed by the first look that 38 Studios gave us at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, its massive RPG developed with the help of Ken Rolston, R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane, Curt Schilling, and Big Huge Games. At E3, 38 Studios actually impressed me even more with gameplay specifics that show the breadth players will experience on their runs (plural) through the game.
In Reckoning, players awaken on the top of a pile of bodies. Everyone in Reckoning's world has a destiny, but because you were revived by a magical invention called the Well of Souls you forge your own. Players choose from four different races at the beginning of the game. You'll be able to fully customize the look of your character with all of the expected alterations, such as piercings, tattoos, ears, hair, face, mouth, nose, and all other associated human body parts and decorations.
Reckoning features 5 environmental zones each with their own unique looks, 125 dungeons, 4 giant towns, and plenty of villages in between. Our controlled demo started in a village with the player walking up to a guard and trying to pickpocket him. We got caught, and were accosted by a guard to either pay a fine, go to jail, or fight. Very Oblivion.
Pickpocketing is just one of many interesting skills improved by skill paths in Reckoning. For example, there's persuasion for dialog choices, stealth, detect hidden, and also varied crafting choices. Improving stealth will unlock more powerful stealth kills and help you sneak around to pickpocket innocents (or not-so-innocents). Dispel helps you get better at a mini-game to get into warded chests. Alchemy allows you to collect herbs to make potions. Blacksmithing lets you forge weapons with components found in the field, sometimes salvaged from traps disarmed with the detect traps skill. Sagecrafting gives you the power to turn shards into gems to be slotted into armor. The skills system looks very deep.
Reckoning also has no predefined character classes. Players put points into the skill trees of finesse, might, and sorcery, and unlock destiny cards as they do so. Destiny cards improve specific types of abilities using skills that players have put points into so that they'll be stronger no matter what they choose. These destinies vary from avenger to shadowcaster to wayfarer. There are tons.
Loot is totally Diablo. Randomly generated items pop up, as do uniques and sets. The demo showed the player killing some mages, looting their bodies, and equipping items right from the loot dialog which makes things easier.
The action-based combat system looked even better at E3 than in past demos. The player was making his way through a cave of summoners that were bringing demons from whatever demon plane they normally exist on. Spells and weapons slashes are all mixed into combos in Reckoning, but players won't have to memorize button taps or succeed through mashing 38 Studios assured us.
Once the initial wave of enemies was defeated, we found a friendly NPC that joined us. Talking to him, Reckoning noted which dialog choices were quest-related and which were there simply to help learn more about the world. We gradually collected purple energy from our downed foes, which put us into a Reckoning mode that made us stronger and able to use the powerful fate-shift kills. The summoners eventually brought out a super-powerful demon tyrant, showing enemy variety. An enemy teased at the very end of the demo was an even more massive demon named Balor, who bared his man-sized teeth.
In conclusion, Reckoning features elements of both Diablo and Oblivion, combined with an action-packed combat system, gorgeous world, and intriguing skill system that won't let us make bad decisions. I really don't see how RPG fans couldn't be excited for its 2012 release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
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