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Reckoning With the Kingdoms of Amalur

If Reckoning makes good on early appearances, it could be something special.

I always feel like a total jerk when I try to reduce new games down to simple equation, but in the case of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the combination of these two specific things makes for a pretty exciting notion.

What if you took an Elder Scrolls game and added a solid foundation of combo-based attacks? As far as I'm concerned, the big stumbling block in games like Oblivion was its funky, stilted melee combat. It certainly didn't make that game unplayable, but it was something you sort of had to put up with in order to get to all the amazing quests. So what if you tossed in a more fluid system that feels like something slightly closer to a God of War-like character action game? Cool, right? Yeah, it actually looks like it could be very cool.

The demo I saw opened with a bit of in-town exploration in the city of Rathir, with a showcase of the ability to pick the pockets of various townsfolk. As you might expect, this requires a bit of stealth, and if you're spotted, the guards aren't exactly happy about it. Getting caught by guards pops up the game's dialogue wheel with multiple options on it. You can start a fight by resisting arrest, lose some XP by opting for jail time, or pay a fine to clear your crimes and get a fresh start on things. From there, the mage/rogue mix found himself a quest. Specifically, a man in town wanted you to go after his daughter, who went out to stop the Ljosalfar elves from infiltrating Rathir, which is inhabited by the Dokkalfar elves. Elf-on-elf violence, man.

Things pick up in a cave, where you find the guy's daughter and agree to help her find three switches that will stop the invading elves. Yeah, hitting switches. Heavy stuff. But this still gave us a good look at the game's combat, which allows you to equip two weapons at once and sort of switch between them on the fly, but the real combos come from putting points into mastering specific types of weapons. So, for example, if you drop a ton of points into daggers, you'll be able to mash out much longer combos by slamming the dagger button. It's not all mashing, though, as you can delay some button presses to branch your combos or hold the button down to charge up some attacks. Other weapon types include things like hammers, swords, and chakram--which are crazy sharp hoop-shaped blades. Different attacks can launch enemies up into the air, setting up juggle opportunities.

Like when you're pickpocketing, stealth can be a factor in combat. Toggling your sneak mode on puts meters above enemy heads that let you know how close they are to detecting you, and getting up close and nailing someone behind without being seen leads to stealth kills. You can also use abilities to regain a stealthy edge, like smoke bombs that confuse nearby enemies.

It's hard to get a feel for character building during such a brief demo, but it at least sounds pretty cool. The game, in case you haven't been keeping up with it, attempts to use a class-free system that lets you grow into something that resembles a class by putting points into the aspects of the game that interest you. So if you want to go straight mage, you can pump your spellcasting full of points. If melee is more your speed, there are plenty of weapon skills to use. Or you can use some mixture of all of these. As you grow, the game will present you with destinies. These are fates that you can equip by visiting a fateweaver, and they give bonuses to the stats used by each particular destiny. So if you're building out your stealth skills and your spell abilities, you might find yourself presented with the "shadowcaster" destiny. Equipping this replaces your default dodge move with a blink-like teleport and adds to your elemental damage. You might find yourself with multiple destinies, and you can swap these out as you see fit.

It's hard to say how the overall game will turn out without seeing more of the story and the quests that go along with it, but a lot of the right pieces appear to be falling into place. I was already paying some attention to Reckoning, but getting this new look at it has definitely moved it up a few slots on my radar. It's due out in 2012.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Jeff

I always feel like a total jerk when I try to reduce new games down to simple equation, but in the case of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the combination of these two specific things makes for a pretty exciting notion.

What if you took an Elder Scrolls game and added a solid foundation of combo-based attacks? As far as I'm concerned, the big stumbling block in games like Oblivion was its funky, stilted melee combat. It certainly didn't make that game unplayable, but it was something you sort of had to put up with in order to get to all the amazing quests. So what if you tossed in a more fluid system that feels like something slightly closer to a God of War-like character action game? Cool, right? Yeah, it actually looks like it could be very cool.

The demo I saw opened with a bit of in-town exploration in the city of Rathir, with a showcase of the ability to pick the pockets of various townsfolk. As you might expect, this requires a bit of stealth, and if you're spotted, the guards aren't exactly happy about it. Getting caught by guards pops up the game's dialogue wheel with multiple options on it. You can start a fight by resisting arrest, lose some XP by opting for jail time, or pay a fine to clear your crimes and get a fresh start on things. From there, the mage/rogue mix found himself a quest. Specifically, a man in town wanted you to go after his daughter, who went out to stop the Ljosalfar elves from infiltrating Rathir, which is inhabited by the Dokkalfar elves. Elf-on-elf violence, man.

Things pick up in a cave, where you find the guy's daughter and agree to help her find three switches that will stop the invading elves. Yeah, hitting switches. Heavy stuff. But this still gave us a good look at the game's combat, which allows you to equip two weapons at once and sort of switch between them on the fly, but the real combos come from putting points into mastering specific types of weapons. So, for example, if you drop a ton of points into daggers, you'll be able to mash out much longer combos by slamming the dagger button. It's not all mashing, though, as you can delay some button presses to branch your combos or hold the button down to charge up some attacks. Other weapon types include things like hammers, swords, and chakram--which are crazy sharp hoop-shaped blades. Different attacks can launch enemies up into the air, setting up juggle opportunities.

Like when you're pickpocketing, stealth can be a factor in combat. Toggling your sneak mode on puts meters above enemy heads that let you know how close they are to detecting you, and getting up close and nailing someone behind without being seen leads to stealth kills. You can also use abilities to regain a stealthy edge, like smoke bombs that confuse nearby enemies.

It's hard to get a feel for character building during such a brief demo, but it at least sounds pretty cool. The game, in case you haven't been keeping up with it, attempts to use a class-free system that lets you grow into something that resembles a class by putting points into the aspects of the game that interest you. So if you want to go straight mage, you can pump your spellcasting full of points. If melee is more your speed, there are plenty of weapon skills to use. Or you can use some mixture of all of these. As you grow, the game will present you with destinies. These are fates that you can equip by visiting a fateweaver, and they give bonuses to the stats used by each particular destiny. So if you're building out your stealth skills and your spell abilities, you might find yourself presented with the "shadowcaster" destiny. Equipping this replaces your default dodge move with a blink-like teleport and adds to your elemental damage. You might find yourself with multiple destinies, and you can swap these out as you see fit.

It's hard to say how the overall game will turn out without seeing more of the story and the quests that go along with it, but a lot of the right pieces appear to be falling into place. I was already paying some attention to Reckoning, but getting this new look at it has definitely moved it up a few slots on my radar. It's due out in 2012.

Staff
Edited by ArtelinaRose

Hopefully this game turns out to be decent and not just another generic fantasy mashup.
 
EDIT: How did I get this after reading the article first and without posting a short comment?

Posted by TheYear20XX

This sounds hella cool!

Posted by JJWeatherman

Sounds great. Hope it turns out well.

Posted by SpartanAmbrose
@Artemesia said:
Hopefully this game turns out to be decent and not just another generic fantasy mashup.  EDIT: How did I get this after reading the article first and without posting a short comment?
Everyone's watching TNT.
Posted by rmanthorp

TNT Perfect time to get the quest. OH WAIT PEOPLE ARE NUTS!

Moderator
Posted by JoeyRavn
@Aragorn123 said:
Everyone's watching TNT.
I came to read the article after seeing Jeff's heartbreaking tweet :P The game looks very cool, although I'll hold my breath until I try it. I've been let down several times in the last few months by some high-profile games...
Posted by MisfitToy

2012.  Kind of a ways off but that's fine.  I'll have plenty to keep me busy between now and then.  But I agree with Jeff.  This is definitely one to keep on the radar.

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Added to my list of games to keep an eye on! Nice preview.

Posted by jimto

I'll always help a dude's daughter. 

Posted by Dezinus

RECKONING. RISING. VENGEANCE. ARMAGEDDON.

Posted by kerse

I'm really starting to get excited for this game now.

Posted by NekuCTR

SWOOOOOOOOORDO!!!!!

Posted by Marz

It looks like an interesting game, i do like Todd McFarlane's artistic style.   

Posted by FinalDasa
@JJWeatherman: Wouldn't you of all people know how its going to turn out? ;)
Posted by MeatSim

This game is sounding better then I thought it would. It's got my attention now.

Posted by FLStyle

This is officially on my radar, could be just what I'm looking for.

Edited by Spacetrucking

There are some big names tied to this game. R.A. Salvatore and Ken Rolston have a history of creating rich fantasy worlds. So it's exciting that they are working on a new one. Together! And its good to hear that the combat looks promising. Melee seems to be an Achilles heels for RPGs off-late.
 
Origins was too slow and prodding, DA2 sped up the action so much that it came across as comical at times, The Witcher 2 is just frustrating w/ a whole lot of dodging and not much hitting. CDProjekt had the right idea or at least they were name dropping the right game (Batman AA) but Geralt just can't string hits like the bat. 
 
With the way character action games are incorporating RPG elements with deep skill trees and talent choices, it's about time RPGs started to learn from the action genre and improve their combat. Choices shouldn't be limited to just stat screens and pre-planning - players should be given the option to branch out into reactionary combos instinctively on the battlefield. It's what made Mass Effect 2 more fun than the first - I had to actually use my shooting skills for once, instead of pouring all my points into Barrier & Immunity and dancing my way through Insanity (like ME1)

Posted by DoctorWelch

If this actually is something like Oblivion except the playing it part is actually fun or at least not horrible and gut wrenching than I could totally be into something like that. I've always hated the Oblivion and Fallout games cause when it comes down to it, actually playing the game is just straight up not fun in any way.

Posted by msgrimmey

I really want to like games like this, but I just loose interest so fast. :\

Edited by Seppli

Dang - Oblivion with good 'God of War'-like combat? Count me in!
 
Also think their 'functionality over glossy looks' approach will help make it a grander and richer and smoother experience.
 
I wish this turns out as good as it could. It certainly sounds like its exactly fitting in my niche.

Posted by BaneFireLord

First I'll play through Skyrim. Then we'll talk, Mr. Amalur.

Posted by Pop

And remember dudes this is a mmo 0.o. That just ticked with me, I'm starting to think this might be really good.

Posted by Toxin066

I like the sound of this. Is Rich an unlockable character?

Edited by Brackynews
@Toxin066: You mean Sir Richard the Browless of Gallup and his steed Fluffernutter?
They might be saving him for the sequel.
Posted by pekoe212

Chakram as weapon option? COOL. The skill development sounds really interesting.

Posted by Toxin066
@Brackynews said:
@Toxin066: You mean Sir Richard the Browless of Gallup and his steed Fluffernutter?
Hell yes.
Posted by Hot_Sawce
@Pop said:
And remember dudes this is a mmo 0.o. That just ticked with me, I'm starting to think this might be really good.
Nope, it's a single player RPG.  MMO has not yet been announced
Posted by DillonWerner

Hopefully they don't go full retard like Bioware did for DA2

Posted by Origina1Penguin
@DillonWerner said:
Hopefully they don't go full retard like Bioware did for DA2
Yeah, never go full retard.
Posted by kingzetta
@Toxin066 said:
I like the sound of this. Is Rich an unlockable character?
He's working on the MMO not this game.
Posted by xyzygy

So weird, I was just glancing through the Marketplace in XBL yesterday, seen this game and wondered "What the hell is this?"  
 
Sounds pretty sweet though!

Posted by Khann
@Killjoi: Once you get into the second chapter, the Witcher 2's combat is MUCH more fluid and badass.
Posted by Yummylee

I'm kinda worried with just how awesome this looks... my expectations have been cut in half with the final product of so many games lately.

Edited by kingzetta
@Abyssfull said:

I'm kinda worried with just how awesome this looks... my expectations have been cut in half with the final product of so many games lately.

Yeah this game really does seem to good to be true.
I'm getting a feeling from this game like that of the first time I played elder scrolls 3 and 4.
Posted by henks

The name sort of sounds like a dead giveaway.. but if it's not..
Hey another potentially great fantasy game thing. Count me in!

Posted by VisariLoyalist

so when a gaurd stops you you can either resist, go to jail or pay huh... yep it's taking a few tropes from elder scrolls!

Posted by AnimalPixel

Hopefully it ends up being good. I like fantasy rpg's, but this one looks a bit generic to me. Only time will tell.

Posted by TheHT

I'm really interested in this class-free levelling system. Wonder how many different 'destinies' there are in the game and how varied and similar they can get.
 
Also, Oblivion with God of War combat is one of those video game cross-ups that you wish for. The trailer they put out shows some of the action, but without some straight gameplay demos I've yet to be convinced that the action can hold up to that prospect.

Posted by Xeiphyer

They're doing a ton of smart things with this game, really excited to see how it turns out!

Posted by SonofSeth

I'm glad people are starting to turn around on this. When i saw the demo from PAX I was instantly hooked, it looked exactly what I always wanted from my RPGs, great action combat, rich world and lush and pretty art style.

Posted by Tordah

Sounds like it could be really hit or miss. I'ts impossible to tell at this point.

Posted by Jolt92

Seems like it could be pretty cool!  

Posted by MEATBALL

Sounds like Fable II combat which suits me fine.

Posted by darkwingduck

are you telling me people actually played oblivion with a sword?  
why would you use a sword when you can instead turn invisible and shoot bolts that deal electric-,ice- and fire damage at the same time?

Posted by nickux

I'm sure this game will be really good but, for some reason, I just can't seem to get excited about it. It feels like the kind of game that should have come out in 2009 or something. I don't know, it's hard to explain. Maybe I just don't want another game of this ilk at this point in the console cycle. I'm sure if I play it I'll come around but right now-- not so much.

Posted by sins_of_mosin

Whats a preview doing in the news section? 
Posted by onarum

Sound good, I love me some stealth, I always end up being a assassin type character in elder scrolls games.

Posted by buckybit

I don't care about this game, until I've seen a QL (or someone's youtube gameplay vid).
 
Don't tell Rich!

Posted by Rolyatkcinmai

Good writeup, Jeff, thanks.

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