Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning is remaster of the single player action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning originally developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games and released in 2012. Re-Reckoning was developed by Kaiko and published by THQ Nordic and is available on PS4, XBox One, and PC via Steam. Re-Reckoning will include all DLC released for the original game including Teeth of Naros and The Legend of Dead Kel. Also, a new expansion dubbed Fatesworn is looking to release in 2021 (more info below).
Exploration, combat, and crafting. It’s the foundation of any single player RPG and Kingdom of Amalur still does a damn good job at it. Nearly every aspect of the core gameplay aged pretty gracefully and before long, I found myself enjoying it all over again. Let’s take a closer look at some of the gameplay features.
You will spend most of your time traveling and exploring the Amalur’s various environments, and with the game’s high artistic quality, that’s not a bad thing. Amalur is comprised of over 30 large unique areas (more with the included DLC), that each have their own towns, dungeons, and strongholds to explore. Each one has unique NPCs, stories, quests, and enemies to fight through.
In each zone, there are secrets littered about everywhere. They take many forms such as false walls, hollow logs, and rock piles. Many of these can be found manually if you have a sharp eye and are willing to button-hump walls and objects to find them. The best method of discovery however, is by investing in the Detect Hidden skill that allows you to locate these secrets naturally. This not only highlights them on the map, but grants an audio, visual, and vibration indicator when you’re close.
What Detect Hidden will not identify for you however, is a treasure chest in plain sight. So you still need to have keen eyes and a sense of exploration if you want to take full advantage of getting the best loot for your character. There are also boxes, crates, and other destructible objects that can hide coin if you are inclined enough.
To interact with many of the game’s best loot containers, you can invest in other skills as well. Lockpicking will allow you to break into the more secured chests utilizing lock picks. These can break, but the lockpicking in Amalur is simple enough and the picks are cheap, so it won’t present too much trouble for most people. Dispelling, on the other hand, is used to remove magical wards which will place permanent curses on your character should you fail. These curses will persist until you reach a healer capable of removing them.
With exploration of course comes everyone’s favorite part, the loot. Re-Reckoning has made a few changes to the way this works. Namely, you will now have a higher chance to receive items based on your character’s skill-set. Investing in staves for instance will increase the chances of staff drops. They also added a virtual counter to the game which increases the chance of you finding better loot when you strike out. Additionally, treasure chests will now spawn their loot when you open them rather than when you enter the area for the first time. This means that revisiting an area at a higher level will still yield useful items even if you’re five or ten levels higher than when you initially cleared it.
Additional changes were made to the level scaling of areas as well. Difficulty now plays a factor rather than simply the minimum/maximum hardline it had before. The general experience gained has also been reduced to account for the new methods of player level matching.
The combat holds up remarkably well. Anyone used to more hardcore action games like God of War, Devil May Cry, or any fighting game will enjoy the combat system. Though it takes a while to get the finer points, it is full of opportunities to create cancels, just-frame blocking, and custom combos. Once you factor in magic, evasion, and special weapon attacks you can create some pretty interesting attack patterns.
That’s not to say you have to be great at these types of games to enjoy Amalur. It’s very possible to adapt to a ranged, stick and move, or any other kind of play-style and still be successful. Just pick the weapons, active abilities, and load out that suits you best and have at it. The combat is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It is beneficial to pick the right tools for the job however and adaptability is rewarded, especially when it comes to elemental attacks.
Weaponry is divided between the three main statistical focal points: might, sorcery, and finesse. In the might category you have longswords, greatswords, and hammers. Sorcery uses staves, sceptres, and chakrams. Finesse relies on daggers, faeblades, and longbows. These can be mixed and matched in any fashion regardless of the skill points you have invested.
Since it uses a traditional leveling system, gaining experience in combat is very important as it allows you to allocate skill points in various active and passive skills. You can even enhance your experience gain with methods such as alchemy and reckoning mode. The experience gained will depend on the type and level of the enemy your fighting, but is not affected by difficulty mode directly. One of the highlights of Amalur’s system is meaningful levels. You will spend some time in each level rather than just blowing through them like many other RPGs these days.
You gain three skill points for combat related skills per level and one for non-combat skills. For non-combat skills, you can also engage with trainers, who will increase you talent for a price or find books which will result in immediate increases. This allows for the eventual mastery of all non-combat related skills if you are dedicated enough.
Combat skills are another story. You will need to choose wisely how you allocate your points. It basically boils down to building a pure class or a hybrid. Fortunately, you can also visit a fateweaver to help you undo bad choices and to help set you back on the right path if you re-choose poorly. At each level, you will also select your “fate” or base class which will grant you benefits based on your selection. These selections are locked behind a wall of prerequisite spent points in the three main categories.
Since weapons have different active abilities and ranges, you’ll want to vary up some of your attacks/spells so that you’re versatile in combat. An example of an all around build would be longswords for up close, daggers for assassination, and magic for ranged. I played through this time with a might/sorcery build but I found all of them to still be very viable.
No RPG or action RPG would be complete without crafting. Crafting takes three forms in Amalur, alchemy, blacksmithing, and sagecrafting. Alchemy allows for the mixing of found reagents to create a large variety of potions. With blacksmithing, you can create custom gear which performs the way you want it to. Sagecrafting can be used by itself to enhance weapons or armor with magic gems, providing them with additional effects. Combining blacksmithing and sagecrafting allows you to create the gear you want without having to rely on the luck factor of RNG.
Most of the components used in crafting are found out in the world and require separate skills to harvest efficiently. Some are gained from dismantling other gear. You can also buy some items from NPC crafters. To craft, you will need to find an appropriate workbench which are usually found in trade shops and the houses you can eventually possess.
The setting takes place in an area called the Faelands during a war between the immortal fae from the Court of Winter and the mortal races comprised of different clans of humans, elves, and gnomes. The player will choose from among the human or elf clans to become the Fateless One a reincarnated being who is not bound by the chains of fate.
Throughout the story, the Fateless One will embark on a journey of self-discovery, the reason they were reincarnated, and the central elements behind the war. Most of this will take place during the game’s main story line but Amalur is a rich world tied together with events and information which help support the narrative. The story itself is very compelling, originally written by Erik J. Caponi and R.A. Salvatore, and it was awesome to enjoy the ride all over again. If you have never experienced it from the original game, Re-Reckoning is a great medium to do that with.
While much of the game’s active revelations occur through quests, much of the connecting background story is learned from lore stones and books. Both can be found while exploring, but lore stones are generally found out in the wilderness while books are found in towns. While you must read the books text to learn, the lore stones themselves tell stories as if a bard giving an oration or performance, though some can be more divergent.
Since you are the fateless one and are able to affect destiny, there are game elements which allow for a loose moral code. Stealing, bribing, threatening, and even the murder of NPCs is allowed. Some of these offenses of course carry more weight than others and if you’re playing without save scumming, it can create interesting run-throughs.
Kingdoms of Amalur is one of those rare games where you can easily lose over 100 hours in. If you listen to every conversation, explore every nook and cranny, and try to find all of the game’s secrets, you will definitely spend that long. While you can finish the game faster by skipping most of the bells and whistles and keeping tunnel vision on the main quests, it’s simply a waste of a great game to do so.
The camera was and remains my least favorite part of Amalur. When you are exploring it works just fine, and it is easy and enjoyable to stop and smell the roses that is the game’s beautiful scenery. But in combat, it tends to do annoying things, primarily zooming in to obstruct your view for no reason which can lead to character injury and death. You will definitely have to stay on top of keeping your most dangerous foes in sight.
On PS4, you don’t have a lot options or the ability to remap buttons except for run, which is needed because X is a horrible choice for running in any game. Audio options are restricted to volume, and graphic options are extremely limited. Most of the options in the game are flavor based, such as subtitles or the ability to obscure a helmet from view.
As far as character handling is concerned, there’s little to complain about. Movement is typically smooth both in and out of combat and battle itself feels pretty clean. Once you learn when you can cancel moves into blocks and evasion windows, combat becomes a whole new beast.
The overall graphical quality between the original and the remaster are largely the same. The chief improvement running here is the native 4K support. The PS4 handles some aspects better however over the previous generation, and there are some texture improvements as well as more vibrant colors. The effects, environments, and models still perform very well in supporting the story of the game so very little was needed in this department in terms of improvements.
Some effects in particular, such as the heat wave from a fire staff strapped to your back, or the sphere of protection are just top notch and age very well. The environments themselves were particularly enjoyable to re-explore and I had forgotten about the great painstaking detail the original team had put in to virtually every area to try to make it unique. One of my favorite aspects were just gaping chasms in some dungeons with unique structures or architecture that makes you wish you could get some grappling hooks and explore it. Just as much care went into areas you can’t access but can still see.
Since the original designs by Tim Coman and Todd McFarlane were already awesome to begin with, it’s great to see that they still hold up pretty well. There was a definitely an appeal to the darker side of the artistry within the genre which I’ve always found to be more enjoyable in high fantasy. Even the stills from the loading screens were still appealing. If you’ve never played the game before, the graphics themselves shouldn’t bar you from having a great time.
The sound had just as much original care as the story and graphic department and also aged well. In an RPG, I prefer to have a lot of ambient sound to help sell the setting and in Amalur, there’s plenty of it. Expect to hear crackling fires, wind-rustled leaves, and the sound of meandering creatures from a distance as you travel. Elemental sounds such as the residual static from a lightning attack are in top form as well.
Voice acting was mostly a hit, there are some really great performances, and some that make you roll your eyes a bit. Overall, I’d say the performances were above average for the original game at the time and they remain very good. Most character performances in the main story line are good, while those in the side quests can be a little more whimsical at times.
Orchestral, evocative, moody…the soundtrack for Kingdoms of Amalur is downright perfect. It’s everything high fantasy should be and if it was placed in a popular big-budget fantasy movie you would never know the difference. Each track fits the setting almost perfectly and even though it isn’t adaptive, the ups and downs take you on a ride all their own.
Composed by Grant Kirkhope, the OST for Amalur evokes wonder, suspense, danger, and mystery and is a pure joy to listen to in and out of the game. The OST was nominated for several different awards and definitely deserved them. High quality is all you’re going to find here folks.
Kingdoms of Amalur was already a great game, the Re-Reckoning has simply added to the awesome and smooths out some core gameplay mechanics for a smoother ride. While the graphical adjustments are nominal, there really wasn’t a lot that needed to be done in that department in the first place as their job was to tell a story and they already did that very well. The native 4k support helps highlight the game’s beauty however, and should be welcomed by returning players and newcomers alike. Kingdoms of Amalur is just one of those games where everything clicks to culminate into excellent overall experience. For those of you who love action-RPGs and have never given this a try, it’s a must play. While there isn’t any new substantive content for veterans of the original right now, THQ Nordic has announced a new expansion called Fatesworn. You can find out more about Fatesworn and find answers to some other commonly asked questions here.
I am an objective-styled reviewer who tends to complete games to provide a more in depth and factual reporting of the titles I write about. I spent roughly 40+ hours playing, with over 120 hours spent on the original. Our Alpha Nerds Guild uses a terrible-bad-good-great-amazing rating system, and within that system Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning easily falls within the Amazing category rated both on its own merits, and against other titles in the genre. I look forward to seeing the DLC and hopefully even more entries to the series!