Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
|Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning|
Big Huge Games
|Designer(s)||Ian S. Frazier|
|Writer(s)||Erik J. Caponi|
R. A. Salvatore
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
Teeth of Naros
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a 2012 action role-playing video game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, who also published the game with Electronic Arts. It was the only game released by 38 Studios before they filed for bankruptcy.
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 in 2012, to generally favorable yet polarizing reviews.
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 "Fateless", 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, or put points into one of the other trees. By completing Faction quests and investing ability points in certain amounts in minimum combinations in the various skill trees, 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.
Weapons and armors can be purchased from shops, looted from fallen enemies or discovered among hidden treasures. Rarer and better ones are awarded as part of quests. However, the best weapons and armors are only achieved through crafting. While high-quality crafting material are rare and expensive, the extended length of the game means that the player inevitably comes into possession of an inordinate number of weapons and armors, from which the needed crafting parts can be salvaged. Thus, the necessary high-quality crafting material are bound to occur. In addition, the crafting quality depends on two of the player character's skills: "Blacksmithing" and "Sagecraft". Each of these can be upgraded throughout the course of the game up to ten levels. The former is directly involved in improving the results of salvaging or crafting, while the latter improves the ability to create magical gems. These gems can be inserted into socketed gears, or consumed during the crafting process for their magical properties.
Reckoning is set in the Faelands, one of the Kingdoms of Amalur and home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts. Immortality doesn't mean that they cannot die, it means that their essence will be reborn in another body, repeating the past, endlessly. 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 their life before their death – is briefed on the intricacies of the Faelands and the Tuatha Deohn's ongoing war by Agarth, a Fateweaver. 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 their death is by locating the scientist who revived them, 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 their allies breaks the siege and turns the tide of the war in favour of the Alfar, earning them the moniker of 'Siege-Breaker'. Together with Alyn Shir, an Alfar who admits to knowing the Fateless One from their 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 their allies – Agarth, Alyn Shir, Cydan and Ventrinio – help spearhead the Alfar counter-attack through Klurikon and into Alabastra. Splitting up, each make 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 their mission to destroy Tirnoch, as well as the fact that the Fateless One was fated to fail and die. Tirnoch helped revive them through the Well of Souls, freeing the Fateless One 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. They awake several days later in the city of Rathir and learns from Agarth that Alyn Shir had extracted them 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 them, indicating that all are 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. However, this game was later scrapped after 38 Studios and Big Huge Games were shut down. 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 shut down 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 Twitch. 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.
In January 2012, an article on Destructoid revealed that the game includes an online pass which allows players to download seven single-player quests, along with Commander Shepard's armor from Mass Effect 3. This spurred an online controversy as players felt that this was "day one DLC", or content that was created prior to release but intentionally locked until the user paid an additional fee. Others felt that this unduly punished players who purchased the game pre-owned (as the code is presumably redeemed by the original owner, thus making it unusable to later purchasers). 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".
|Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning|
The few reviews published before the release of the game were positive: IGN praised the game's customizable gameplay, gorgeous environments, and engrossing story, while criticizing the game for some minor technical issues. GameSpot praised the gameplay and visuals, but felt it was too generic.
After release, reviews were generally good but polarized, with a large difference between highest scores and lowest scores. GameTrailers said of the Xbox 360 version: "Though it leans a little too heavily on well-trod genre conventions, there's no denying that Reckoning has a whole lot to offer in terms of sheer breadth. Similarly, though the challenge tapers off dramatically toward the end, its combat is welcoming, gratifying, and hypnotic." Joystiq praised everything the same console version had to offer. Edge gave said console version six out of ten and felt that said console version 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 felt that said console version did not reinvent anything, but liked the combat system. GameZone gave the same Xbox 360 version 8.5 out of 10 and said it was "most definitely worthy of the hype it's been getting. If the Fable series had a baby with Skyrim, Reckoning might just be that end result—taking a little bit of gameplay mechanics from both, yet refining it into an extremely enjoyable, entertaining and challenging experience."
Digital Spy gave the PlayStation 3 version a score of all five stars, saying, "There's never a dull moment in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There's a new item at practically every turn, and you can't travel more than a few feet without stumbling upon a side-quest. Players always have one skill or another that they can be honing, and the option to visit the Fateweavers is always there for a change of pace." The Guardian gave the PC version a similar score of all five stars and called it "a triumph that makes the prospect of a future MMO based on the same world and engine all the more enticing." The A.V. Club gave the Xbox 360 version a B+ and said, "There's nothing groundbreaking about Reckoning, but fans of The Elder Scrolls will still find a lot to love." The Escapist gave said console version four stars out of five and stated that "The weight of all its parts threatens to pull it down, but the rigid skeleton holds strong." The Digital Fix gave it a similar score of eight out of ten, saying that it was "a more than compotent introduction for a new IP. Flawed but filling the gap nicely between Skyrim and Mass Effect 3, gamers can be content in having a constant flow of RPG goodness. Hopefully this is just the beginning for the franchise as it is off to a fine start." In Japan, where the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were ported and published by Spike Chunsoft on September 20, 2012, Famitsu gave both console versions each a score of one nine, two eights, and one nine for a total of 34 out of 40.
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 claimed that the game was a failure as it needed to sell over 3 million copies to break even.
The Legend of Dead Kel
|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, the expansion also gives the ability to marry a female Ljosalfar called Sunhilda Lorelle.
Teeth of Naros
|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. In addition to new weapons and armor, this downloadable content also adds a new damage type called Primal.
Weapons and Armor Bundle
The Weapons and Armor Bundle downloadable content adds three different armor sets for Finesse, Might, and Sorcery respectively. In addition, it adds one new weapon for each weapon type.
A sequel was in pre-development according to an inside developer, but the company filing for bankruptcy after a missed loan payment left the IP in the hands of the taxpayers of Rhode Island. According to the 38 Studios Founder Curt Schilling, the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, calling the game "a failure" caused a publisher to pull out of a $35 million deal that could have paid for a sequel. On September 6, 2018 THQ Nordic bought the rights to the franchise, as well as the assets of Project Copernicus, from 38 Studios. In relation to the original game, THQ Nordic stated that the publishing rights still belonged to Electronic Arts.
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The founder of 38 Studios, Curt Schilling, has apologized for the demo version of the upcoming RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, describing it as "way more buggy than anything anyone should ever release"
- gehrig38 (January 27, 2012). "What's up?". NeoGAF. 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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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.
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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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DAY 1 DLC, to be extremely and VIVIDLY clear, is FREE, 100% totally FREE, to anyone that buys a new copy of Reckoning, ANYONE," Schilling wrote. "If you don't buy new games you buy them used, and in that case you will have to pay for the Day 1 free DLC content the new copy buyers got for free. It's clear the intent right? To promote early adopters and MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO ME, REWARD fans and gamers who commit to us with their time and money when it benefits the company.
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Now that we've put the ever-questing of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning through its paces, it's time to see how it fared in the face of the assembled game critics. As far as I can deduce, it's either horrible or the best thing ever.
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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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