Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Preview: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

10:20 AM on 03.08.2011 // Nick Chester

Curt Schilling’s enthusiasm for 38 Studio’s first title, Kindgoms of Amalur: Reckoning, is unquestionably infectious.

I’m at the Baltimore-based Big Huge Games, a studio that sits a mere three miles from where I live. I’m listening to Schilling talking about the game in a small, dark room, sitting next to his 38 Studios partners: artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane; best-selling fantasy author R.A. Salvatore; and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion designer, Ken Rolston. Schilling, best known by most as a former pitcher for the MLB, is grinning from ear to ear. A long time gamer, this is his dream team, and his excitement is palpable. It’s hard not to smile along with him.

Sports fanatics who participate in rotisserie leagues do it for the fantasy, the thrill at being able to piece together the all-star team of their wildest sports fantasies. Looking at the talent Schilling is putting behind Reckoning, it seems that’s exactly what he’s done, only with game development in mind. If what I’ve seen from an early look at Reckoning is any indication, the gamble may pay off big time for both action and role-playing game fans alike.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Developer: 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 2012

Our demo, a first look at pre-alpha version of the software, starts off in the game’s very first dungeon that players will experience when they boot up the game next year. A young man wakes up in a mountain of rotting corpses, and as you’d probably do given the circumstances, vomits on his boots after freeing himself from the pile’s twisted limbs. It wasn’t long ago that the man was a piece of the pile, and fit in quite nicely, actually -- he was once dead, too.

As Reckoning’s creative director Mark Nelson explains, the game’s main protagonist -- and that’s “you,” but we’ll get to that in a second -- is one of the first to be resurrected by something called “The Well of Souls.” The hows and the whys are a bit foggy at the outset, something for players to uncover as they work through the game’s open world quest through Amalur. What that means for the game world, you’ll learn, is equally as important as what it means for the player.

“Where every mortal in Amalur has a destiny,” Nelson explains, “fate has already determined their path. We, [as the main character], come back a blank slate, and we’re able to determine our own destiny, and this is something that is going to play both into the story and the [game’s] systems.”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before determining our destiny, we must determine who we are, or at least what we look like.

Expect Reckoning to offer up the full range of expected options in its character creation. Visually, you’ll have control over things like bone structure, skin color, facial hair, eyebrows, tattoos, and whether you’ll be male or female. Beyond that, you can choose from four of the game’s races -- two human and two elven -- each of which will provide a bonus for the game’s non-combat skills. Depending on that very choice, you’ll be offered the option to choose a patron god; I saw a slew of different deity options in the demo, each offering up their own bonuses, as well.

“We want you to create a character that you really feel is your own,” Nelson says of the opening process.

What you won’t choose, however, is your character class. That comes into play based on your own choices, with something that is being referred to as the Destiny System. Reckoning will feature a very traditional-looking skill tree system, broken up into three branching paths: might, finesse, and sorcery. Where you invest your skill points will ultimately determine the class you’ll become. The idea is to have the game recognize how you’re building a character and then offer up the equivalent of a traditional character class.

These destinies, we’re told, can be changed as you play the game. If you feel like you’ve plumbed the depths of the sorcery path, you can begin to build on the Might tree, changing the course of how your player will progress and feel.

“Too often this happens in role playing games,” says Nelson. “One of the very first decisions you’re asked to make, before you’ve ever swung a sword, before you’ve ever cast a spell, [is] what class do you want to be. How do you want to spend your life, for the next 100 hours in this game? You make the wrong choice, it’s not as good as an experience. We want you to have all the choice in the world, but we don’t want you to make a choice that you’re going to really, really regret a few hours in.”

Regardless of what choice you decide, it’s clear that Reckoning may provide some of the most visceral, in-your-face combat of any open-world role-playing game to date. In fact, this was one of the focuses of this early demo, and it may be one of the main points that sets Reckoning apart from its peers. From the very first battle, it’s clear that the game’s combat is closer to God of War than anything we’ve seen from action-role playing games in the past.

The warrior on the screen deftly wields a sword and a massive hammer simultaneously, knocking enemies back with vicious strikes that hit hard. Anything unfortunate enough to get in the way is completely destroyed, adversaries falling to the ground and cowering in fear as they beg for their lives. Quicktime events finish many combat loops, a cinematic-style kill the team is calling “Fate Shift Kills.” Outside of looking damned cool, they’re being coy on what using those kills will mean, but promise they’ll have an impact on not only the player, but the game world as well.

There’s no hands-on with the game just yet, but 38 Studios explains that while combat looks and will feel great, don’t worry if you’re not a particularly deft action game player.

“There are no combos to memorize,” Nelson says, explaining that what we’re seeing is all about rhythm and timing. They’ll leave the long strings of button patterns to remember to someone else. “That’s the realm of action games and they do it perfectly well.”

All of the animations in the demo looked smooth and moves seamlessly transitioning into one another, the combat team on the game obviously inspired by fighting and action games. Looking around their offices I spot a few videogame gems and possible inspirations, including everything from Assassin’s Creed to Soul Calibur II. There’s even one weapon we saw in action -- flaming boomerang-like blades used in melee combat -- that had a completely different look and feel from anything you’d expect in a fantasy role-playing game.

Even the game’s magic attacks are worked seamlessly into combat, right alongside more traditional weapons like swords, hammers, and axes. One particularly inspired magic attack is called “The Mark of Flame,” used to “paint” multiple targets before triggering a fiery hell storm. We’re also shown a telekinesis attack that pulls enemies in towards the player, setting them up for attacks, not unlike Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion and his infamous “get over here” spear. It’s clear that in addition to the game’s deep traditional RPG systems (which I’m positive we’ll see more of in the coming months) 38 Studios wants to make sure everyone feels like a bad ass when encountering the baddies of Amalur.

Just because our first demo placed a strong focus on combat, that doesn’t mean legendary fantasy author R.A. Salvatore’s input is going to waste. The New York Time’s best-selling author was involved with the story writing process throughout the entire development journey, helping to build a vast and believable fantasy world that lived up to his own standards.

“Something that R.A. has talked to us a lot about is that you want to feel like this is a world worth defending if you’re going to be the one defending it,” Nelson explains.

“It’s important to make it feel like the world has a history, that it didn’t just get plopped down for this game,” he continues. The player in the demo discovers a hidden ruins, and while it’s not explicit by anything you might immediately see in the game, Nelson quickly rattles off the site’s history like it was fact.

“That’s something R.A. will talk to us a lot about,” he says, “nothing goes in the world without a purpose. You don’t just put something in because it’s cool. It should still be cool, but make sure there’s a reason for it being there.”

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is scheduled to hit PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2012.

Photo Gallery: (6 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ nick at  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Been playing Gears of War 3's campaign on Xbox One. Looks great on there, and Sam's voice actor is Chloe's voice actor in Uncharted 2/3. Hell yeah!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -