E3 2011: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Preview

We learn more about our destiny in this pre-E3 demo of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

There's a lot to be excited about when it comes to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, especially when there's an impressive amount of talent behind the project. Key members on the team include Ken Rolston, who was the lead designer on the third and fourth Elder Scrolls games; best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, who is penning the lore; and Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, who is handling the artwork. And, of course, you have Curt Schilling, Major League Baseball pitcher, who founded the studio and brought the dream team together. At a pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles, we were able to revisit Amalur and get some hands-on time with the game.

For a fantasy game of this size and scale, a 30-minute demo only offered a tiny slice of what's to come. From the last demo, all we know about the story of our character is that he is back from the dead. However there are bigger problems brewing in this fantastical world. Big Huge Studios didn't go into great detail about the story this time around, but we picked up some tidbits here and there. We started off halfway through the game, outside the looming gates of the lovely Dokkalfar (dark elf) capital of Rathir, where we were introduced to the crime system. The first portion of the demo was controlled, but we were able take control in the latter half. Our character was a mage rogue, highly skilled in the art of pickpocketing. We watched as he boldly walked up to an unsuspecting non-player character that had her back turned and promptly relieved her of her ring, as well as her gold. She immediately reacted to this, although it took her a few moments to turn around, so we tried to get away before we were caught. If you do get caught, you have a few options to consider. To demonstrate this, we approached the next victim that would succumb to our sticky fingers. But this time, it was in a crowded area where we couldn't exactly see the number of people in our line of sight. A guard immediately came charging at us, and we had a choice to make. We could either pay a fine to have our crime cleared, go to jail and perhaps try to sneak out (there is an experience cost to this), or try to fight our way out and potentially ruin any peaceful experience we might have otherwise had in this city. Chances are you'll likely die fighting against the guards of the capital, but it's something to keep in mind if you don't mind wiping out a small village never to return. We paid the fine to get on with the demo. There's no morality system, but your actions will affect how some people treat you, especially those in the city that you've committed your crime in, but you'll otherwise have access to all the quests in the game so you won't be missing out on any content.

Rathir, like any major bustling city in a role-playing game is packed with things to do. You'll find quests, which are marked with exclamation points all over the map; shops; and fun things to do like blacksmithing. As a mage rogue, we didn't wield any swords, so we bought everything we could from a local mom-and-pop weapon shop and salvaged the items, turning them into materials that we could use to boost the effect of our daggers. Blacksmithing lets you use all the junk that you come across during your travels and turns them into something useful when you get to a forge. Our daggers now had a shimmering frosty ice effect, which made them much more elegant weapons than a couple of plain, non-glowing daggers.

Welcome to the Dokkalfar capital.

To give us a reason to go out and slash a few things, we picked up a quest from a worried father who was looking for his daughter Anela. We were told that Anela had information regarding the Tuatha, a group of warriors that had made its way across the ocean to this land and was attacking villages left and right. When talking to characters, the first option will always move the conversation forward for those who want to get through as quickly as possible. But there are other dialogue options, if you want to learn more about the world around you. Before accepting the quest, we were given the option to happily accept, decline, or try to persuade the man to give us some money up front for our help. Depending on your skills of persuasion, this might work. But in our case, we weren't such a smooth talker and decided to be the Good Samaritan that we were to help the man out.

Our next destination was Culn, a village not too far from our location. Along the way, we fought some nimble sprites, but we were faster. As a mage rogue, we had the ability to teleport around the area to get behind our enemies and deal damage as we swooshed by them. Upon arriving at the now deserted village of Culn, we noticed that the locals had been slaughtered and walked into an ambush set up by Tuatha guards. We covered combat in our last preview, but it's important to note that your X and Y buttons (on the Xbox 360 version) are tied to each of your weapons, and by holding the right trigger, you can access your other skills. Armed with dual daggers and chakrams, we found that combat was surprisingly smooth and fluid. By tapping any of the buttons repeatedly, you can string together a bunch of attacks. But if you press a button, pause, and then continue, you'll launch an entirely different move set. The demo was set up so that we leveled, which allowed us to use ability points to build our skills, as well as unlock a new hybrid destiny called shadowcaster. Destinies are the game's version of classes, and there are more than 40 in the game. You have to return to a fate weaver to assign yourself to a new one. As you level, you can assign points to might, sorcery, or finesse, and different destinies will unlock, depending on what path you've taken. This way, you're not forever stuck playing a certain role if you don't happen to like it. You can always invest in another path and see where it takes you.

The last part of the demo led us into a dungeon where we fought some wolflike beasts and more guards. We then found Anela and encountered a burly giant, which we promptly slayed. Along the way, there were treasure chests, all locked magically so we had to use our dispel ability to open them. A minigame where we had to time our button presses as the cursor passed by symbols was easy enough, but we're told that these can get much more complicated and difficult. What's nice is that with all the loot that you collect, you can immediately choose to move it into a junk pile with the Y button so that when you head back to town all your junk will be taken care of and sold.

Move aside foul beast, I've got quests to complete.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning left a good impression, and we're looking forward to seeing more. The combat felt good; it was fast and easy to learn. It also helped that we looked great doing it in a beautiful fantasy world with rich environments, and our customizable character didn't look so bad either. We'll have more details to share with you during E3, so be sure to stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.

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100 comments
darkghostsharp
darkghostsharp

hmm, the game seems too bright and shiny right now... I don't mind all the flashy action combat effects, but they seem sort of exagerated here, as does the environment. It looks way too polished and clean, as if someone washed every surface till it became all sparkly. Although, the pictures in the end of the video looked great so I can only hope it'll look like that, otherwise, please work on that xD Everything else looks good, combat, huge world, character specialization, etc... Looking forward to this.

Wensea10
Wensea10

it doesnt look better than the ''two worlds ii'' video game

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

@kaem79 New Developer need to put new standard so they could survive & acknowledged in the gaming industy, I just want them to do it better, (since I really like CRPG.), honestly I want it looks and run better at least on the same par with "The Witcher II" (Its just In my dream though.) :P

kaem79
kaem79

@sodiumpentathol That's true. Still, I'm a huge fan of PC rpgs so this is a pre-order anyway for me. But like in Diablo 3 the flashing fits the game, but then again, it's a arpg that still has much blood and gore.

kaem79
kaem79

@Ladiesman17 The graphics and animations are two different things. I don't care about graphics, but the animations must be good. Or else I don't have the strenght to watch it for long. Example: Characters walk like they wearing a diaper.

kaem79
kaem79

I hope this will be awesome. Looks like it anyway.

ajitsalopal
ajitsalopal

Looks like a pretty nice game to play .... bit like god of war on pc . More reviews needed ..

fluent2332
fluent2332

Sounds like a great team has been put together to make this game. I'm really excited for it.

Lamb78
Lamb78

I am a huge R.A. Salvatore fan. It will be really interesting to see what he brings to this game. I'm thinking Shadowcaster shall possibly be my path...

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Need better graphic :P the movement is kinda odd. :roll: looks ambitious though.

Deihjan
Deihjan

The last screenshot just screams God of War to me, dunno why. But it looks interesting.

Pink_Kikka
Pink_Kikka

Looks fantastic! I hope, though I doubt :(, that they have a multi-player option.

psycho75
psycho75

Why every cartoonish rpg is compared to that piece of crap Fable, NO this don't look like Fable at all,thank god for that,this will be waaaay better.

SouravRokxx
SouravRokxx

The graphics are good and it looks good to me....lets see what it has to offer...waiting for it!!!! Moreover, what excited me is the second image of this page. May be the element of time can be slowed down or made faster, so the swordplay lags...it looks great overall.....lets c...:)

GabrielOnuris
GabrielOnuris

The hero was killed then resurrected, and because of that he has no fate, in other words, a free will. Then at 7:24 the player uses a "soul reaver"... Well Crystal Dynamics, you are taking too long to make a LoK sequel, there are others using its concepts...

EtherUnion
EtherUnion

to much Fable-ish.... i think.........

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

lets hope the game has the kind of branching that witcher 2 or even original witcher had instead of going all Dragon Age 2 on us.

sodiumpentathol
sodiumpentathol

Graphics are too bright and colorful, and combat looks too flashy and cartoony. Too gamy to be a serious RPG. Probably aimed at console players. Will skip this one.

calvin27_2002
calvin27_2002

3.41 minute of the video: Geralt from Witcher got apprehended by the Hero

rgiwillia
rgiwillia

So far the combat looks quite fun and engaging. It'll be nice to play an RPG where you aren't tied down to a specific class for the entire game as well.

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

curt shilling...who would have guessed?! Like the artwork, oozes Todd McFarlane...

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

This looks to be coming along really well!

chyng85
chyng85

The foul beast is awesome!~

JTrockin
JTrockin

This looks good, after all one can never have too many RPGs.

aphexuk
aphexuk

looks kak imo! raisins in milk

selbie
selbie

Looks amazing, but they need to reduce the bloom effect just a little.

Kaeban
Kaeban

Looks nice and i totally agree with @gobbo00 ... it looks a lot like fable, wich in my case is AWESOME.

zowbaid
zowbaid

Wow this actually looks really impressive!

gobbo00
gobbo00

Looks very like fable in the music in the video has that fable vibe to it.

rexona2412
rexona2412

but the element which I love the most with oblivion and which is something I haven't found anywhere else really is that it really is possible to climb all the walls you can reach, and jump up all the mountains you can see, for example at 3:30 in this vid where the guy runs along a road and you see like some hills blocking the way to the east and west, well I just don't see him jumping up those hills, as where in oblivion that would must likely be possible, and don't know why but for some reason no other gamedeveloper seems to care about such things, and yes I understand it must be difficult to program all the freedom, but at the same time does it give so much more to the sense of freedom in a open world game, no said path to walk and such.

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

Looks very awesome, can't wait to see it at E3.

ronnet
ronnet

A lot of what I'm hearing sounds like it is The Elder Scrolls's brother. Which is not a bad thing in any way, other openworld RPG tried to do things differently and failed. But the WoW graphics, and the huge weapons are a turn-off for a game that takes itself seriously. But there is a lack of openworld RPG, not to mention a huge lack of good ones so I will buy (unless they really screw it up).

ironmonk36
ironmonk36

The game looks fantastic. Looks like it takes the best stuff from TES and Fable and turns it up a notch.

Balck_soul
Balck_soul

actually looks pretty good . i just wish graphics were most to the realistic side then to the cartoony like fable. first skyrim then this sorry guys :D

altjay88
altjay88

Todd McFarlane caught my attention with this one. with him working visuals its sure to look amazing. so glad i've got a ps3, shame its not a ps3 exclusive it''d have better graphics if it was. bah. game looks great though. i've got my hopes up for a skill tree that will lead to a 'spawn' character. but not really expecting it. i'm hoping alot for this to be a good game. not alot of honestly good games out anymore, mostly copys of others. which, i'm fine with if they still do a good job.

Shinteikun
Shinteikun

Looking forward to this game almost as much as I'm looking forward to skyrim...

kangaox
kangaox

@Hard_Target Were you jokin when you said that? Lol, Id be shocked if something disappointed you, YOU wouldnt be disappointed!

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

This game isn't doing anything different. It's taking elements from Sacred 2, Oblivion, and many other recent rpgs. Looks like a 7/10. Pass.

Hard_Target
Hard_Target

If this game disappoints me, I will be disappointed.

Khan_Krum
Khan_Krum

Not a Salvatore fan, but I somehow managed to find another game he wrote for (Demonstone) enjoyable. Perhaps this will surprise me too, although I'm cautiously wondering how much actual "roleplaying" the game will allow, excepting the seemingly total freedom of the class system.