Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

For everyone who saw the potential of the original Amalur release, its vast maps to explore, countless fully voiced quests, days worth of play time and versatile class and combat systems, this game is just as good as it was on the ps3. For everyone disappointed by the shoddy camera work, poor targeting, stunlock based combat, metric tonnes of loot left to rot on corpses, and seemingly endless exposition on things that are nigh impossible to care about in the slightest, Inventory Management Simulator: Re-Loadscreenoning is just as bad as it was on the ps3.

While the game does have a few changes, such as making the UI a bit easier to read and slight improvements to the camera, the camera still remains perhaps the most obnoxious part of the game and I found myself regularly fighting with it, confused on my location suddenly changing, and wondering why an ARPG that heavily relies upon dodging, blocking and keeping track of enemy attacks has no lock on. Whether wanting to lay down aoe on a group of sprites or focus on the archer first the game doesn’t make it easy.

Which is a shame because this would have been a good time to fix it, the game is massive and both exploration and combat are plentiful so having something so persistently annoying does so much damage to the experience.

For good, the game has sprawling zones without load screens, a decent variety of creatures early on from minor to great, treasure in every nook, and a veritable sea of side quests and fully voiced dialogue from everyone about every topic making it from a scope standpoint one of the most impressive new IPs with a fleshed out world in the last decade. However, before even the first zone was done the sheer amount of quests that were hard to care for and the utter deluge of flavour information had drowned out entirely what was actually important. It’s like being put in front of an encyclopedia, with almost Tolkien like detailing of all the inhabitants but always missing a pretty important piece of the puzzle- the ‘why should I care’ part.

There’s next to no connections with anyone, and there are hundreds of unique characters- the world is absolutely built up, but if you do end up doing all the side quests it will be hours between any major story scenes with the very, very small number of recurring characters in the game. If you were to ask an average player after 20 hours what they thought of the five most important characters in the game, their personality and motivations- very basic information that should be pretty easy to list off in most games- I wouldn’t be surprised if they couldn’t even think up five names much less the rest of the details.

Monsters, luckily, leave a far more substantial impression especially on higher difficulties. As you’ll face both small and large packs of foes, and minions like wolves or greater foes like trolls frequently in the world you get a pretty solid variety of foes that can complement each other well, some even fight each other, and force you to ensure you’ve both the means to handle tough foes and groups, which is where the leveling system’s versatility shines.

There are three types which basically amount to mage, warrior and rogue styles, you can specialize or be a jack of all trades, each have their own spells as well as weapon abilities. In very traditional RPG style foes have their own weaknesses, being able to stunlock a foe with powerful attacks, take on groups with wide area spells, take advantage of elemental weaknesses or be stymied by resistances and immunities all come into play. Whatever you play it can be wise to make sure you have some variety, or as a mage you can find magic resistant foes very difficult to face. Luckily with crafting, finding or buying gear you can make even mage weapons that can deal decent physical damage or poison foes but don’t expect to ever be on the level of a warrior or rogue.

Massive maps, sidequests with lore that creates a deep world, a variety of deadly foes and dungeons with different layouts and appearances which make everything feel new and different seems like the RPG jackpot. However, despite being one of the most fully voice acted games even to this day it still manages to have some of the most bland personality – a game with a hundred characters you care nothing about and will forget after briefly encountering them is not preferable to one with a half dozen who matter. The sheer size of it starts to make the copious dialogue feel like a chore. That says nothing of how this plays like it’s still a ten year old game, lagging over simple tasks, taking forever to load into buildings in towns which makes every trip through a new town looking for quests, loot and vendors an absolute slog, and within an hour I’d already broken a quest to being unfinishable only to find after a google search the problem has remained unchanged since the first launch.

They definitely utilize the size of the game, but not in a good way, scattering side quests about which in turn require you to fetch or kill foes at every point of the zone. This sort of re-exploring open world games is a great way to add artificial length to a game with no substance, as anyone who’s played an Ubisoft title is well aware, but it’s not really any better when they do it in a game with substance, you’re no longer exploring somewhere new when it’s your third time running there.

This is a bare minimum rerelease- but you’d never know it if you didn’t compare the original release under a magnifying glass and that’s perhaps the most disheartening thing. With a new dlc coming, and the hopes of many fans for a sequel in the future now that life is being breathed back into it, it can only be described as cruel to those dreams how lazy this feels, it won’t bring any new interest to the franchise and will definitely not cause anyone who saw its potential but couldn’t get into it back then to be eager for it now. This is a fantastic game being held back by inexcusable gameplay issues like the camera work, and a plodding story, and while the latter can’t be fixed, the former had no rights not to be.

~~Alex Cumming~~

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