Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

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I have a number of pages of notes from a variety of the panels that I attended at the recent PAX convention. I hope to get some posts in about them as I did actually put forth the effort to write things down. On a side note, I am pretty sure I was the only person there at this convention that had a notepad and pen to take notes. Boy, did I feel like a nerd at a geek convention!

Anyway…

I attended the first demonstration of 38 Studios’ Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning. For those not familiar with 38 Studios, it was created by former Boston Redsox starting pitcher Curt Schilling. Apparently he is a huge gamer and routinely played during his baseball career. He pretty much took his life savings and decided to start a game design company. His ultimate goal is to make an MMO that will redefine the genre, and the development of this game (codenamed Copernicus) is underway.

In much the same way as Runic Games is running their business model, 38 studios is getting their feet wet in the gaming market by releasing a single player game set in the same world as their planned MMO title. This should accomplish both the goal of gaining much needed experience in the market as well as manufacturing some revenue to fund the bottomless pit that is the MMO development budget demands. Here we have Reckoning.

This is the only decent picture I could get…the lights were pretty bright.

The game itself is set in the world of Amalur and is being billed as a hardcore RPG with real action elements. In other words, it is similar to Oblivion or something of that ilk. They played a live demo of the game and here are some of the things I noticed about this pre-alpha game:

  • The character creation was pretty standard. You can choose from 4 races, 2 of which are human, a light elf, and a dark elf. During your character creation you pick a patron deity that has some impact on your character’s stats and abilities, but is nothing game breaking.
  • The game is set somewhere in the 10,000 year history of Amalur that NY Times best selling author R.A. Salvatore has written. Bob-o must be bored with writing best sellers and has written an exhaustive history for this game. The setting is the “Age of Arcana” and is supposed to be a time when magic is reentering the world after a long period of dormancy.
  • Your character starts off the game in a tutorial zone in which he/she has just been resurrected from the dead. (I hope they were going for unique with this since the folks at Trion already did that for RIFT.) Your character is the first success of this process and you spend your time in the tutorial fighting the unsuccessful attempts. On an interesting note, the tutorial voice is none other than Jim Cummings better known as the voice of Minsc in Baldur’s Gate 2.
  • Throughout the tutorial you will be able to test out the various classes. They showed off a warrior type class as well as a mage class.
  • As far as the class system goes it was a little vague, but it did appear that you could make viable hybrid classes that might share some of the abilities of the core classes.
  • The game has been designed for a multi-platform launch and the controls of the game were demonstrated using an XBOX controller. The devs touted the fact that this game will not require button combos in order to play which got a cheer from the crowd.
  • The combat animation is very satisfying and has been overseen by Todd McFarlane of the comic book Spawn fame. The devs mentioned that Todd helped develop the minute pauses in the animation to accentuate powerful moves within the game. I thought it would be rather weird, but it is quite pleasing once you actually see it. There does appear to be some form of finishing move type animation that is reportedly still under development, but every now and then (typically on the last mob of an encounter a la Dragon Age) your character will perform an over the top move to coup de grace an opponent. It was very neat the first time, but I can see it as being merely okay to a little annoying as it happens for the umteenth time.
  • The combat was impressive and the AI actually used tactical combat against the player as opposed to just running straight at the player in a swarm.
  • Much to the 38 Studios team’s surprise (it would appear anyway) when they explained that their inventory system would not require severe micro management it got a cheer from the crowd. There is apparently a way to sell all vendor trash with just the click of a single button…cool!
  • The loot is designed much like a Diablo type system where random combinations are thrown together. You may loot a sword that has frost damage or a shield that has a strength bonus and magic resistance from the same mob. I did note that the speaker used the term “addicting treadmill” when referring to the loot system. I would suggest to him not to use the word treadmill in any press announcements.
  • There are 3 types of crafting in the game sagecraft/alchemy/blacksmithing but they really didn’t go into detail about them.
  • The game is set in a time period 2000 years before the time of the MMO project.
  • The game is an open world game that encourages you to stray off the beaten path, and apparently there is a lot of stuff to do once you do. The game should be anything but boring.

All in all the game looked impressive for its alpha state. I would consider slapping some cash down on in based on what I did see. What I did find the most fascinating is the fact that the studio has developed an IP from nothing and is doing it on a scale I have not seen since D&D or Star Wars. I can only imagine that Salvatore and McFarlane have gotten on board to create something that is going to be so much more than a video game, but rather a franchise of books, toys, games, and anything else they can come up with. Good luck folks, because with all things in this industry it will either be a colossal success and a cash cow, or an utter failure and a bankruptcy waiting to happen. If I were a betting man, from what I have seen, I would lay money on the former rather than the latter.

-Pid

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One Response to “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”

  1. kaozz Says:

    Looks like an interesting game, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

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