Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
|Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Big Huge Games
|Designer(s)||Ian S. Frazier 
|Artist(s)||Tim Coman 
|Writer(s)||Erik J. Caponi 
R. A. Salvatore
|Engine||Big Huge Engine with Havok physics|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
|Distribution||Digital distribution, DVD, Blu-ray Disc|
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (2012) is a single-player action role-playing video game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, who together with Electronic Arts also published the game.
Ken Rolston was the game's executive designer; R. A. Salvatore created the game universe and lore, with Todd McFarlane working on the artwork, and Grant Kirkhope creating the musical score. The game was released on February 7, 2012, in North America and on February 9, 2012, in Europe. The first public demonstration was at the Penny Arcade Expo East 2011 on March 11, 2011.
Despite good reviews, sales of the game did not meet expectations, leading to the bankruptcy of its creators.
Kingdoms of Amalur features five distinct regions, four playable races, and three class trees with 22 abilities per tree. The four playable races are the Almain (Civilized Humans), the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves), the Ljosalfar (Light Elves), and the Varani (Nomadic Humans). The player starts off as a "blank slate", but can afterwards choose a class among the three available in the game, which are called Might, Finesse, and Sorcery; they correspond to the fighter, rogue, and mage classes respectively. As the player fights and gains experience, additional levels are unlocked. With each level gained, the player gains three ability points which can be invested in the skill-tree system to unlock or augment the 22 abilities. By completing Faction quests and investing ability points, the player can also unlock various "destinies", which add positive buffs to the player.
Combat is based on the timing of button presses, similar to an action role-playing game, with occasional quick time event cutscenes. The combat includes a 'fate' system which allows players to accumulate 'fate points' and ultimately enter 'Reckoning Mode', a slow motion mode that allows the player to quickly dispatch enemies. The Reckoning Mode may end on player's command, with the depletion of the fate bar or by the act of 'Fateshifting' an enemy. Fateshifting involves performing a brutal finishing move on a single enemy. During the cosmetic Fateshifting phase, the player may rapidly tap a random button (chosen and displayed by the game) to increase the experience yield up to 100%. After the Fateshifting, all weakened enemies also die.
The player can travel on land, jump down from predesignated spots and swim in the water. The player has the ability to communicate with, rob or kill NPCs; each of these actions have their own consequences. Lead combat designer Joe Quadara emphasized that "twitch skill is only going to get you so far. Strategy and proper RPG playing is going to get you farther." 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling said that the style of the game would be a marriage between God of War and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Reckoning is set in the Faelands, one of the Kingdoms of Amalur and home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts. The Faelands are divided into a number of separate regions; the forests of Dalentarth, the Plains of Erathell, the canyon territories of Detyre, the marshes of Klurikon and the crystal kingdom of Alabastra. Throughout the Faelands exist settlements belonging to the mortal races; the human Almain and Varani, the Ljosalfar and Dokkalfar; light and dark Alfar (elves) respectively, and the gnomes. It is these mortal races that the Gadflow's Tuatha Deohn – corrupted Winter Fae – seek to exterminate in their "Crystal War", not only in the Faelands but in the neighbouring kingdoms as well.
Amalur is also home to a species of supernaturally-gifted people called "Fateweavers." Fateweavers can look into an individual's future and tell what they see, often with special attention paid to the individual's eventual death. For a number of years before the game's outset, the fate of everyone in the Faelands has been, "Slain by the Tuatha Deohn," suggesting that the Winter Fae will win their war of conquest.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning follows the story of a mortal known as the "Fateless One", who, having died before the game's outset, is revived in the experimental Well of Souls by the gnomish scientist Fomorous Hugues. The first and only success of the experiment, the Fateless One must escape the facility when it comes under attack by the Tuatha Deohn, a subsect of the immortal Winter Fae, who are currently waging a "Crystal War" on all the mortal races in the name of their new god "Tirnoch". Having escaped the facility, the Fateless One – having no memory of his life before his death – is briefed on the intricacies of the Faelands and the Tuatha Deohn's ongoing war. Agarth is astounded and pleased to realize that he cannot read The Fateless One's future: having already died, the Fateless One's return from the grave has taken them out of "Fate's weave"; theirs is the only life in the world without a predetermined end. This power also allows the Fateless One to alter the fates of others, as Agarth discovers when the Fateless One saves him from his fated, "lonely" death at the hands of a native creature.
It is eventually decided that the only way the Fateless One can uncover the truth of his death is by locating the scientist who revived him, Fomorous Hugues, who went into hiding following the Tuatha attack on his laboratory. The Fateless One is opposed in this by Gadflow, the king of the Tuatha Deohn.
Meeting with Hugues' patron, a gnomish Templar (a sect of Mages) named Ligotti Octienne, the Fateless One is directed to a former laboratory of his, deep inside the gnomish territories of Detyre, where the two are subsequently ambushed by assassins sent by Octienne. Surviving the ambush, the two make plans to publicly reveal Octienne's betrayal and, in turn, prise the location of another gnomish scientist, Ventrinio, who Hugues believes might know the details surrounding the Fateless One's death.
Travelling to the gnomish city of Adessa, the Fateless One confronts Octienne and forces his true allegiance into the public, in the process learning that Ventrinio was previously spirited away by Octienne to the region of Klurikon, deep behind Tuatha Deohn lines. In order to reach him, the Fateless One is directed to the Alfar city of Rathir, and then on to Mel Senshir, the besieged Alfar city in Klurikon at the centre of the Crystal War. Once again defying the dictates of Fate, the arrival of the Fateless One and his allies breaks the siege and turns the tide of the war in favour of the Alfar, earning him the moniker of 'Siege-Breaker'. Together with Alyn Shir, an Alfar who admits to knowing the Fateless One in his previous life, and Cydan, one of the few immortal Winter Fae unaffiliated with the Tuatha Deohn, the Fateless One locates and confronts Ventrinio, who reveals that they had previously entered Alabastra, the centre of Gadflow's empire, in an attempt to collect the valuable prismere crystals which not only powered both Fomorous' and Ventrinio's own respective Well of Souls', but guide the Tuatha armies.
Determined to return to Alabastra, the Fateless One and his allies, Agarth, Alyn Shir, Cydan and Ventrinio help spearhead the Alfar counter-attack through Klurikon and into Alabastra. Splitting up, each made their way into the heart of Gadflow's kingdom, with the Fateless One eventually happening upon Alyn Shir and a dead Ventrinio. Alyn Shir reveals that the Fateless One was her fellow member of a non-descript organization dedicated to protecting the secret of Tirnoch's existence and her true nature, silencing any who might learn and ensuring Tirnoch's continued imprisonment. She reveals that Tirnoch is a dragon, with powers that rival those of Amalur's gods, who had previously foreseen the Fateless One's dedication to his mission to destroy her, as well as the fact that he was fated to fail and die. Tirnoch helped revive him through the Well of Souls, freeing him of the dictates of Fate, so that the Fateless One might return and be used to set her free.
Deep beneath the Bhaile, capital of the Tuatha Deohn and former home to the Winter Fae, the Fateless One fights and slays Tirnoch. He awakes several days later in the city of Rathir and learns from Agarth that Alyn Shir had extracted him from the rubble of Bhaile before disappearing. Agarth also reveals that following the battle, many Alfar soldiers had approached him for readings, but that he had been unable to provide for them, indicating that all were now free of the dictates of Fate.
38 Studios, owned by former baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, originally began developing the Amalur universe with a 10,000 year history created by R.A. Salvatore for use in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), codenamed Copernicus. In 2009, they acquired Big Huge Games as Ken Rolston and his team had already been working on an RPG while Big Huge Games was part of THQ. The studio decided to retool their existing single-player role-playing game (RPG) to be set within the same universe in order to introduce the Amalur MMORPG. 38 Studios shutdown in May 2012.
A playable demo was released on January 17, 2012 for Windows through Steam and Origin, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Playing the demo unlocks special items for use in the full version of the game, as well as in Mass Effect 3. The demo quickly garnered attention for being, according to Curt Schilling, "way more buggy than anything anyone should ever release", with wide-ranging glitches affecting even the simplest gameplay.
On February 7, 2012 netcaster Sean "Day9" Plott held a day long streaming event called "Day of Reckoning" where prominent netcasters from the gaming community would share livestreams of the game on the Online Video Platform TwitchTV. 38 Studios promoted the event by offering free game keys for netcasters to give out throughout the day and organised raffles via polls from their official website. Sean Plott was joined by Felicia Day early in the day and had live interviews with R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane, Ken Rolston and Curt Schilling as the event progressed.
An article on Destructoid spurred an online controversy when it revealed on January 27, 2012 that the game includes an online pass which contains seven single-player quests, along with Shepard's armor from Mass Effect 3. Supporters of pre-owned games became outraged of this decision. 38 Studios boss Curt Schilling defended Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's online pass on the game's website, saying that the Day 1 DLC was to be free for buyers of a new copy of the game, "promoting early adopters".
The Legend of Dead Kel
On March 20, 2012 Electronic Arts released downloadable content as a companion to the game, with exclusive features. The additional game content, entitled The Legend of Dead Kel, gives players access to a new island called Gallows End, adding over 15% more landscape to the game, with new quests and side quests. There are also a number of new enemies, a new dungeon type called Dverga Fastings, and dozens of new items. The add-on also opens up what EA is calling "the ultimate player housing". Instead of players using a small hut to store their belongings, they are offered a large fortified estate with several buildings and many servants who have their own side quests.
Teeth of Naros
Additional downloadable content entitled Teeth of Naros was released on April 17, 2012. The new content focuses on a new race of beings called the Kollossae, a new region called the Teeth of Naros as well as the floating city of Idylla.
The few reviews published before the release of the game were positive: IGN gave it a 9 out of 10, praising its customizable gameplay, gorgeous environments, and engrossing story, while criticizing the game for some minor technical issues. Official Xbox Magazine awarded the game 8.5 out of 10 and said "it's a great RPG nonetheless." GameSpot gave it a 7.5, praising the gameplay and visuals, but felt it was too generic. Adam Sessler gave the game a 2.5 out of five stating it had bugs and the landscape wasn't crafted well.
After release, reviews were generally good but polarized, with a large difference between highest scores and lowest scores. Gametrailers gave it an 8.3 out of 10. Joystiq gave the game a perfect score of 5/5, praising everything the game had to offer. Edge gave it 6 out of 10, and felt that the game did not reinvent anything, and had several issues, writing that "Reckoning's appeal soon wanes" and that it "never quite balances accessibility with the depth expected from an RPG either." Digital Trends gave it 8.5 out of 10 and felt that the game did not reinvent anything, but liked the combat system.
On March 10, 2012, it was projected by NPD that the game sold over 330,000 physical copies in the U.S. and Curt Schilling later tweeted that it has sold 1.2 million by the 90-day mark. Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee has said that the game was a failure as it needed to sell over 3 million copies to break even.
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- Curt Schilling (January 29, 2012). "What's up?". Retrieved January 29, 2012. "I founded 38 Studios over 5 years ago and as much as I'd like to tell you guys this thread is cool, it's way way more than that. That you guys have created this much traffic since our demo is flat out stunning, incredible.. Ya I wish there'd been 52 pages of SOLD!! Day 1 buy here! I totally get it. Let me start by apologizing. The demo? Ya, it is way way WAYYYYY more buggy than anything ANYONE should ever release, much less a demo."
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- Sterling, Jim (January 27, 2012). "Kingdoms of Amalur hides seven quests behind online pass". Destructoid. Retrieved February 7, 2012. "It's pretty sad that single-player games are starting to chuck online passes around. You know what that says to me? That a publisher is not confident that its game is worth keeping. That's really not the kind of message you want to send your consumers before they even put the disc in"
- "The Controversy Surrounding Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s Online Pass". analoghype.com. January 29, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012. "Fans quickly took to the Reckoning forums, expressing their outrage over the fact that not only would there be day 1 DLC, but that it would be locked out to those that didn’t purchase a new copy"
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- EA announces DLC for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
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- "Kingdoms Of Amalur: The Reckoning review". Digital Trends. February 8, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012. "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning probably isn’t a game that will redefine RPGs. There are issues that hold it back, and there are very few “wow” moments. The character development is also held back by a lack of consequences and the occasional poor dialog exchange"
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