Why Didn’t Everyone Play Kingdoms Of Amalur?!

By John Walker on February 26th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

There’s a game you probably didn’t play. It came out last year, it’s a genuine epic, a vast, elaborate RPG with a sprawling story and vast numbers of sidequests. It features superbly in-depth combat, has huge variety in character design and levelling, and lets you instantly wander from the main plot and explore its enormous world to your own entertainment. It’s Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning.

I remember attending a press day in late 2011, looking at a selection of EA games, and Amalur was there. But no one suggested I take a look at. In a quiet moment I snuck onto one of the long row of empty PCs to have a go, found myself intrigued, and then was angrily told to stop by an EA representative. Playing unsupervised, tsk. That was as close as I got.

A week and a half ago I was trying to get onto the SimCity beta weekend, but Origin was falling to pieces, servers down, logins impossible. And I saw Amalur there, downloaded to my PC, on a whim from a while back and never explored. For whatever peculiar reason, the set of EA servers that allowed that game to check in on itself worked, and after some moronic requirement to “authenticate” my PC, two separate EULAs, and yet more logging in, I was able to get to a game menu. I’ve not stopped playing since.

I must have put in a couple of dozen hours in the last week or so. And by the map, I’m maybe just over halfway exploring the world, so halfway through the main story, the three separate faction quests I’ve found so far, and the 60 or so sidequests I’ve completed. I’m so hooked, so completely drawn in to its fantasy world, and I’ve no desire to stop. I’ve little desire to do anything else but keep playing. I want to start to explore why.

It’s also important to note that Amalur is riddled by bugs. Amazingly stupid bugs that in no way should ever have cleared testing. Bugs like the quest screen completely falling to pieces and going blank once you’ve about 20 quests running (something that’s unavoidable). And of course bugs that, now creators 38 Studios and Big Huge Games no longer exist, will never be fixed. Yet despite this, it’s still incredibly robust for a game of its scale, and especially for a game that offers you an extraordinary amount of freedom.

While there’s much to criticise, there’s far more to celebrate. This is a really fantastic game, bursting full of story, combat and exploration, and yet you probably didn’t play it.

Amalur is impressive on a number of levels. The two most important are its distilling of the very best of an action-RPG MMO into a single-player game, and its meta-commentary on the very nature of games. But don’t be put off by either! No, really, don’t! I want to explore those two.

It’s not a surprise that the game should have so many similarities with a game like World Of Warcraft. Of the two teams that made it, 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, the former was already working on an MMO. The doomed developer, with all that money via the deals of baseballist Curt Schilling, had been developing a massive universe along with author R.A. Salvatore, with a 10,000 year history, and all the background needed to create an ongoing, online game. After 38 bought BHG, along with them came not only the Big Huge Engine, but an RPG they’d been working on for THQ. The two, like the studios, were combined. Goodness knows what either might have been, but the combination is a purely single-player RPG with the depth and breadth of an online world.

We’re talking Dragon Age: Origins scale here, but in a far freer, far more open world. While you do eventually navigate its enormous stretches through the map’s quick travel, you could still run anywhere too. It’s all open, all connected, and all packed with so much going on.

The other tempting comparison is Skyrim, and that megalithic RPG having come out just a couple of months before can’t have done sales of Amalur any favours. But it’s definitely an inappropriate comparison. Yes, you can ignore the main plot, yes, you can kill absolutely anyone, anywhere, and still have the game somehow cope, and yes, it has the most stupidly designed inventory menus imaginable. But the atmosphere, the tone, the intangible feel of it all – to compare it feels weirdly wrong. It’s something much brighter, something much more accessible.

That’s hugely helped by its being a third-person action game. Combat is true to that too, relying on some healthy button mashing and frantic dodging. Big fights with giant creatures are chunky, satisfying brawls, as you hammer away at the A button (yes, I picked 360 controls for this, and with the wayward mouse it’s definitely the better option, and the one with which the game was obviously primarily designed to be played), throwing in shield blocks, dodging rolls, and your array of special abilities, spells, and old-school button combo moves.

For me, what’s made this especially special, is it’s the first time I’ve ever bothered to properly engage with a game’s blocking mechanic. Like how most fun action-driving games really never need you to press the brake, most action-combat games never really need you to bother with blocking. There are ways, means, hammering of buttons that generally get around such a faff if you’re as lazy as me. But here it’s so damned rewarding, so absolutely satisfying every time you time it perfectly, that I’m finally converted. I’m actually slowing down for the corners, rather than bumping off the barriers at the side.

But when a game like this has such an emphasis on the combat, invariably that means the RPG side of things is watered down. Action-RPGs, the Diablo-mould creations, tend to have wispy plots, little chats to be had in hub towns, then back to the biffing. But that’s absolutely not the case in Amalur. You could easily spend an entire evening nattering away with the residents of a newly discovered city, exploring the side-streets for those in trouble and needing your help, negotiating with bigwigs, exchanging loot for new equipment, handing in completed quests, discovering secret treasures in dungeons hidden behind a house’s backrooms, stealing all the valuables from everyone’s bedroom drawers, and gathering a new armful of tasks to complete in the surrounding area.

Then off you go, aiming toward quest markers, having spots of combat along the way, until you’re inevitably distracted by an intriguing looking building, or dead body containing some odd clue, or pathway leading to an enclosed area, and so on. That measure by which I test all RPGs for goodnessity – the impossibility of actually going where you intended without getting waylaid – is triumphantly ticked here in a big thick red marker pen.

When I began playing, I realised that I’d started this game once before. I vaguely recognised the opening moments – being dead and wheeled in a cart to a heap of other deads, interwoven with the character creation. Then waking up, alive again, and escaping the odd place you’re in. I recalled the stuff about Fateweaving, about how Fateweavers determine the fixed paths of our futures based on the magical nature of Fate, but that I had no path, that I was different. I remembered the opening village, the dying blue woman on the ground, and then I must have been distracted by a bee in a jaunty hat, because there my recollection ended. But perhaps because I’d seen this village previously, rather than focusing on the stories being set up there, I charged off up a hill toward a pretty looking stone. And from there across some fields, until I discovered another blue character – one the Fae (basically, elves) – who asked me to do a thing that directed me, in stages, toward the Elv- Fae city. I ended up getting embroiled in their story, rather than the main plot, for a long time.

The Fae are immortal. Sort of. They die, sort of routinely, but then come back to life and repeat their cycles. The Cycle, in fact, is the key to Fae culture. Because they are their own history (although that gets complicated too), they retell the same existences as stories, endlessly looping their reality, their lives being the folktales they tell. That’s just brilliant. And it’s the first part of this game’s commentary on the nature of storytelling, and the invasion of a player. Because things aren’t following the correct patterns. The cycles aren’t looping, and baddie Faes are taking advantage of this, manipulating the changes to see themselves come to power. The endless battle between the Winter and Summer courts of the Fae are beginning to change their determined outcomes, the Winter Fae starting to win where they should lose. And it seems to have a lot to do with you, and why you don’t obey the rules of Fate.

It’s not just the Fae this applies to. They have a broader perspective of the other races, especially the humans, nicknamed by Fae as “dustlings”. Their lives too are pre-determined, although they may live in denial of this. Because they’re all NPCs, right? Gettit? And yes, in my just stating it in some words it may seem a little trite, but the game doesn’t spell it out so obviously. There’s no elbow-nudging. Instead it’s just a lovely, underwritten acknowledgement of the nature of the player, the person who comes in and changes the inevitability of the course of all their lives.

Which might usually be something that’s rather undermined by the game’s inevitably being linear. Yet Amalur gets away with this too. Yes, it says, this is a linear path. You are on this route, this is your destiny, and that’s the nature of life. Except as you travel this path, the outcomes of your actions are not fixed. That’s true in the decisions you might make in a minor sidequest, whether to help him, or her, and the small-scale consequences of that. And it’s true in what the game calls Twists Of Fate – key points in which you (not knowing they’re key points, crucially) make a decision that dramatically changes the course of history.

I, for instance, am now ruler of the House Of Ballads, one of the highest positions in Fae kind. And I’m not Fae! What manner of madness! Also, my defiant Atheism (I’m roleyplaying!) has led to my being declared an Unwritten One, further determining my own future. (Although I’ve somewhat undermined that by pretending to become a follower of Lyria because I wanted the XP – elsewhere in the game I’ve been given the conversation option of lying when it comes to such matters, this time it didn’t.)

I don’t yet know how far this commentary will reach, or whether it will fade aside to let the more generic fantasy tropes that permeate all come fully to the front. Because in honesty, for most of the time, for the ten thousandth time you’re looking for the ten thousandth person reported missing after they wandered off into Deadlytraps Dungeon or the like. Most of the time it’s political machinations between pretend clans of people you didn’t know existed last week, and so are hard-pushed to care too much about now. In fact, and perhaps super-meta-archly-appositely, I more often find myself siding with whomever I think will lead to a more interesting outcome. Were they planning that? I don’t think they were planning that. But still, it’s happening.

Also, I SO love the woodpecker-like sound it makes when your magically restoring quiver of arrows refills.

I have so much to say about this game. I’m very aware that this is madness, extensively writing about a game that came out a year ago that everyone ignored, from a studio that no longer exists. But dammit, if I can convince a handful of people to pick up a copy, then I’ll be happy. I want to talk about how it embodies everything that’s great about the RPG, as well as how it embodies everything that’s completely ridiculous. So next time, how I accidentally killed the entire population of a monastery.

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  1. kazriko says:

    I did play it. It was in my top 5 for games I finished in 2012.

    I didn’t have any of the bugs you mention when I played it on PS3.

  2. iivo says:

    Bugs – i can live with those. Skyrim had it’s share.
    The game had two major problems:
    It had grinding – something you really do not need in Single-player, especially at the beginning. i understand farming for an item, but classic grinding… no.
    And the second, and IMHO the worst problem: It was so unbelievably easy. I mean by the time you had your second specialization (character card, or whatever), you could plow through caves/area with barely a scratch. it was simply boring.
    I am very sorry about it, i was looking with very high hopes towards it (action-like combat with RPG location, story, lore, skills, everything). It should have been a recipe for success, even with Skyrim near.
    Unfortunately, no matter how good looking a cake, no matter what fancy ingredients it has, if it just doesn’t taste at all, you really don’t eat it.

  3. Flank Sinatra says:

    I played this game for a good while when it came out. Great combat and gameplay. I loved the heck out of it until I got halfway through the game I realized just how big and empty it was. The zones really did feel like running around an MMO world with no other players. It felt lonely. I think Amalur drove me to play an MMO instead and I gave it up.

    Also: I keep thinking back on Amalur and confusing it with memories of Darksiders 2.

  4. Cunning Linguist says:

    Played it last night for 2-3 hours. I don’t like the art style or the UI. The combat seems good so far but may not hold out later in the game . I think the consensus is correct that KoA is too bland to stand out. But , since I love console action-RPGs I’ll probably play through some more of it at some point.

    • baguafox says:

      Give the combat system a few hours to flush out.. Once you unlock special/blocking moves plus magic it becomes incredibly dynamic

  5. baguafox says:

    First, like to say long time reader first time commenting!!! After reading the story I decided to just go on faith and buy it two days ago… Already 17 hours in and cannot stop playing it…. After school, work, grading, and research I am still up until 4 or 5am playing this damn game! Combat is some of the best I have ever seen (btw…been playing all forms of RPGs since mid-1980s), and the world is amazing to explore!!! Thank you for pointing to this… Totally grateful to see such a nice and thoughtful expose. btw… I found it on the US version of Amazon for 30$, which is a great price for such a good game.

  6. slimcarlos says:

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  7. JimmyWild says:

    For me it got lost in the mix with so many other titles i was trying to play. I probably played 5-6 hours. Liked it, but was drawn to something else. But i’m in catch up mode right now and this article reminded me to play it lol. So i’ll start it over once i finish FFXIII-2. :)

    • baguafox says:

      K of A killed my catch-up in my replay of Lost Odyssey (going back into all things RPG now!!) ;)

  8. Branthog says:

    I haven’t bought it or played it, because it has a hideously generic art-style and everyone’s description of the game itself is that it is a fine-enough, but sparse, generic RPG. Everything I ever saw of it felt like a mix of WoW and a mix of thirteen-year old boy’s masturbatory big-sword and barrel-chest fantasy. It’s the same reason I won’t play Crysis 3, frankly — too generic looking to appeal to me. I wouldn’t play Amalur if it were free.

  9. Premium User Badge

    kdz says:

    Well, I did play it for about 30 hours. Admittedly in a bit of a rush, because I was meant to review the game for a (Polish) gaming website.
    And the thing is: it felt sterile. You are IN the world, but never a part of it. It felt like rooms with a nice wallpaper, nothing more. No verticality, no interesting traversal options, just running towards the next objective, slashing some dudes and so on.
    Also: it tried to incorporate a lot of things from games that are currently on top and just failed because no thought was given to such inspiration. It has the combat system of a God of War, but executing the hits just isn’t as satisfying, nor are the fights themselves interesting (mainly because of the open world, of course). There is the dialog wheel from Mass Effect, but I couldn’t figure out WHY. I mean: the wheel was fantastic in ME and Alpha Protocol because it was a way to quickly present the available options to the player so that he wouldn’t break the flow of the conversation reading all of the lines. But in Reckoning the main character isn’t voiced so there IS no flow. Oh, and sometimes instead of a wheel you get a classic window with lines. Why?
    Then there are the lorestones (or however they decided to call them), but there were problems with the volume of the speeches and you couldn’t turn the subtitles on for them. Nice. Oh, and let’s not forget the super-smart dialog. I once used the art of persuasion on a prince who didn’t want to help me in a war effort. How did I do that? By saying to him “Give me an army”. Seriously.
    All of those things turned Reckoning – which’s launch I was genuinly waiting for, hoping for some deep character customization and an interesting world – into a disappointment.
    :<

  10. Reverend Lovebutter says:

    I’ll try to archive this review and comment thread for later review and dark brooding.

    I was lead designer on Morrowind and Oblivion… love the Elder Scrolls. And Executive Design Director on Reckoning.

    For me, Reckoning was a chance to have more fun per unit time than in an Elder Scrolls game, with a combat system that was designed for a console and game controller, fast and easy to play, but fun, colorful cheap-and-cheerful FRP gameplay like you’d have around a D&D table.

    Elder Scrolls is always fulfilling for me… but not really ‘fun’. A lot of time and grind, walking and talking, long, awkward dialog, inventory cluttered with junk. Totally immersive and satisfying. But a Very Heavy Meal.

    It will always be a mystery to me why Reckoning didn’t find its audience.

    I’ve read all the negative comments above. I hear them, even if it’s often hard to understand them except as obscure expressions of personal taste.

    But I think John Walker’s review best catches an appropriate sense of ‘this could have been so much more… but it’s still a boatload of fun, and fun you won’t find anywhere else.”

    You may notice that Reckoning was the only original new AAA IP in 2012.

    New IP is hard. Marketing and publicity will be hard. And people who already have other favorites will just go play their favorites. That’s fair. Not a lot of novelty or variety in our brand of entertainment right now. But people like what they’re used to. New IP is a HUGE risk. Andhuge risks often don’t work.

    I wish we’d had a chance to make Reckoning 2.

    I wish we’d released in a season without competing RPG… like Arena did when it first released. But even Morrowind had to release opposite Neverwinter Nights, which was a killer Bioware competitor in those days.

    And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

    One tip for Reckoning players?

    Here’s how I best liked to play. For fun. to hell with quests and completionism.

    Reckoning: Exploration Survival Mode:
    – Never accept or complete a quest.
    – Never buy gear or sell gear at a store.
    – Live only on what you can harvest from kills.
    And… then? Head out for the farthest eastern edge of the map.

    The enemies get tougher and tougher the farther you go from the start point. Pretty soon it gets hard, then Real Hard, then Desperately Hard, to kill anything and harvest loot… unless you used your combat skill, resources, and tactical problem-solving just right. But the combat is just so much fun, you play it as a giant extended sequence of combat matches… you against a world full of enemies! I just went as far as I could go, hit a brink wall, then gave up. And… after a while… started all over again, later, with a new character concept. Rinse. Repeat.

    I also recommend the two expansions, which are way more coherent and elegant than any Bioware or Bethsoft DLC. Oodles of polished, intelligent, colorful content.

    But thanks, John, for opening the game and finding the fun. And thanks all commentators, negative, positive, ambivalent. This will make for great review and reflection in an idle hour, looking back at all we tried to do in Reckoning.

    Me? I’m still hugely proud of Reckoning, and all my awesome Bug Huge friends who did the actual geniusing and laboring to make Reckoning. And to EA Partners, who by the way, did an AWESOME job of marketing and publicity. Given the scale of our challenge, releasing against Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim, and loads of other fine sequels that season, they did a great job. AND they helped us release a demo… an overwhelming challenge for a new, small RPG studio which had never released a console game before. You’re entitled to your opinions, but I know my profession, and those guys did stellar work against terrific odds.

    To everyone: just open the game, and look for the fun. If you can’t afford the full game, there’s PLENTY of gameplay in the demo.

    Yes. And there are some bugs in the demo, but they seem to hit some folks hard, and some folks never at all. And, lordy, compared to Morrowind? Which had relatively few bugs for such a HUMONGOUS OCEAN of software… but which had far more bugs than the Reckoning demo. [There’s a dev-saavy, counter-intuitive reason why the demo had more bugs than the final release of the full game. Which I’ll save for some future exposition.]

    And bugs in the complete game? Well, Reckoning was certainly FAR FAR FAR more bug free than Skyrim on release. In particular, on PS3. C’mon. Seriously. I understand if you tolerate floods of bugs if you love Elder Scrolls games. Heaven knows, I do; Skyrim was well worth the risk of occasional bugs and wonkiness. But I wouldn’t pretend it was flawless, polished software. [‘How soon they forget.’ *Taking deep breath. Relaxing.*]

    Really. Thanks, everyone. It why I religiously read RPS. And regularly review comments with interest.

    Now. [Scratching head.]

    How the hell do you archive an entire article with all its comments?

    [*Wandering off on a Power-User Quest.*]

    • Snargelfargen says:

      It’s super exciting to read a post from the lead of two of my favourite games ever!

      Regarding Reckoning, sometimes I think a AAA game’s reception suffers not because of difficulty finding an audience, but because aiming for something new within a genre also runs the risk of disappointing expectations for the established conventions of that genre. It sounds like the action-oriented pick up and play approach was interpreted as poor design when really your team was just trying to provide a different experience. Another example I remember is Dead Space which got a lot of flack for clumsy and slow controls back in the day. Bad things in an fps, but common tools in horror games. The latest Hitman is getting similiar press as a terrible Hitman sequel and decent game, although it’s still selling ok. I guess I’m getting awfully close to saying obnoxious things like “it’s not that kind of game” or “people just aren’t playing it right” but there it is.

      I agree with your opinion of the TES experience, if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “arduous”. I’ve spent countless hours in Morrowind, Oblivion and also Skyrim and while they are incredibly rewarding, reduce those games to less than the sum of their parts and you get a lot of very grindy actions. And the bugs. Oh, the bugs… Agreeing with the lead developer of said games on this is hella weird btw.

      Anyways, you’ve sold me on the “more fun unit per time” line. I’ll definitely be trying Amalur the next chance I get, and I’ll give your “challenge mode” a shot too. Thanks for the info-dump, it was fascinating, and I hope you go on to work on more exciting projects.

      p.s. any hints what that next project might be?

      Edit for TOUGH JOURNALISM question, now that I’m done gushing:
      Amalur’s storytelling and world seemed very generic fantasy fare which was a turn-off for a lot of people including me.
      How exactly did that happen? Was a standard fantasy world always the plan? Does the game’s world and story have something unique that just wasn’t transmitted, and if so, why?

      • Reverend Lovebutter says:

        Genres exist because folks like familiar elements. Westerns have saloon doors and hitching posts. It’s how you USE those elements that counts.

        Did you play the House of Ballads faction? That’s a particular model of good narrative quest design and writing. And both the expansions get other awesome stuff.

        Familiar epic main quests and narrative themes are bread-and-butter. Look to the corners and side quests for color and strange fruit.

        But, that said, Reckoning innovates in action RPG combat… not in narrative presentation or gameplay. I’d love to innovate in ALL game elements at once! Art for art’s sake!

        But… try to Do Too Much when making a new FRP experience with a new IP and a team that’s never made a console game?

        Wo, dude. First Rule of AA Game Development: Don’t do too much, and polish what you do.

  11. SeismicRend says:

    I agree with many who felt the game was too easy making it disengaging. The ‘Street Fighter’ combo complexity of the combat is lost when you can spam a single attack. With a little moderation, you can get a lot more enjoyment out of the game.

    I would recommend avoiding the crafting and reckoning elements if you would like the game to be remotely engaging. Like Skyrim, crafting makes you overpowered to the point of invincibility and makes loot rewards junk. Also, while the reckoning activation is cool, it makes bosses trivial. I would recommend not using it either for boss fights.

    Potions are another element that don’t mesh well either. I recommend getting HP regen on your gear to keep you topped off between fights and avoid spamming HP pots as a crutch.

    It also helps to be mindful of how the level scaling works in the game. The level of the zone is set based on when you first enter an area so avoid entering a new zone unless you intend on exploring and questing in it. If you come back to it later at a higher level, it’ll be irrelevant.

    Finally, the rogue level 1 fan of knives ability (I don’t recall the exact name) is extremely broken because every knife in the attack can hit large targets at once, one shotting them. Don’t put more than one point into it.

    Honestly, I don’t know why action-adventure games tack on RPG elements to them. It creates a plethora of balance issues unless carefully managed.

  12. benkc says:

    I realize this thread is old, but I picked it up this weekend, and felt like recording my thoughts so far.

    I’m constantly fighting the camera during combat. I haven’t figured out what logic it uses to decide what crazy things it’s going to do with the camera; at times it will ignore the enemies I’m fighting, the direction I’m moving, anything I do with my mouse, or all of the above. This really kills any possibility of enjoying the combat for me.

    Given how the game initially seemed to favor dodging, I was really disappointed to realize that missile attacks are homing. Also, while this is maybe something I just need more practice with, the fact that attack-windup-signal-animations do NOT mean it’s time to dodge was really frustrating. (If you dodge during the windup, they instantly adjust and hit you. I believe you have to dodge after they’ve already started swinging.)

    I specced daggers/stealth, and was really disappointed that with stealth maxed out (for the low levels) I still can hardly ever sneak up on anything, because they’re always in groups that are facing every which way.

    There’s lots of lack of polish. The lorestones are a neat idea, but the subtitles are grossly out-of-sync with the voice on most of them, and the voice is too quiet to hear over any action if you keep moving. Characters lips will randomly stop moving for a few lines of dialog. I’m constantly getting stuck on tiny rocks and roots, which really changes the feeling from “this is an open world” to “this is a fancied-up corridor”. (Not being able to jump except for at very specific points also contributes a lot to that.) You can’t set multiple quests to show up on the map, and you can’t toggle back and forth between the map and quest log. (Given the above comments about zones setting their level when you first enter them, it seems very important not to go on to the next zone if you still plan to do anything in this one.) Every time I go into the “Moves” screen, it’s re-un-folded every weapon type, which is a pain if you want something that’s a ways down. There’s no tooltips on items — you have to right-click, pop-up menu, then “inspect” or “compare”. The book-reading UI is tiny. For the matter, the window that describes skills over on the right is tiny, and doesn’t scroll very well. The menus in general feel very “we designed this for a console, and didn’t put any effort into making it make sense for KB/M”. (The fact that lots of other games these days have that same problem does not in any way excuse it in any of them.)

    Then there’s a lot of delays that make me wonder if it’s just not running correctly. The timing on ward dispelling is off — I have to click slightly after the circle passes the ward. Loot doesn’t show up on corpses until several seconds after you’ve killed the last monster in the area — so I often don’t even see some of the loot. When you try to talk to someone, you’ll often be stuck there for a few seconds while they slowly turn towards you or stand up, before the dialog opens up. Maybe this stuff also ties in to my earlier-mentioned problems with combat timing.

    The most damning, though, is that every time I fire it up, it’s not very long before I find myself wanting to play either a TES game or WoW instead. (I haven’t wanted to play WoW in *years*!) It just feels like it’s a mix of both of those, but less fun than either. (How can the combat manage to be less fun than THOSE games?!)

    FWIW, I thought the Fae-story-cycle thing was interesting, or what I’ve seen of it so far. That’s part of why I keep launching the game, even though I keep quitting after not very long.

    Postscript: I grabbed the complete pack, because that’s what I do. Is one of these DLC packs seriously just a complete set of auto-levelling gear? That doesn’t add content — that removes content! I am seriously cheesed by this.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You can remedy the camera issue by using an FOV fixer like Widescreen Fixer, something I found totally necessary in order to tolerate KoA’s gameplay. I highly suggest you download it and try it out.

      As far as the rest of your concerns, the majority of them are issues endemic to the RPG genre — pathfinding issues, combat mechanics, synching glitches, collision detection, UI, etc. It’s funny that you mentioned the TES series, because those games in particular have severe problems with collision and character movement.

      The DLC pack that contains the gear sets? Just don’t use those items, problem solved.

      I’m not saying your complaints are unjustified, but it almost reads like you went into this game expecting to be disappointed. That’s not surprising given the amount of public vitriol it attracts from RPG diehards.

      • benkc says:

        Thanks, I’ll try out that widescreen fixer. Hopefully that will make everything a lot more tolerable.

  13. bjkgamer says:

    game is easy, repetitive and is too similar to other rpgs, thus being released at the same time as a repetitive game that has a ridiculous amount of fame and stuff in it makes it not sell very well… they made it such a mind numbing game you dont even have to lock on to targets yourself, my brain literally feels like its melting whenever i touch the game, i remember a part of the quest when i had to read something… i was like.. really ?? ive been playing with my eyes closed for so long i cant be bothered to focus on some text… i need darksouls 2 or dragons dogma 2 or a good rpg to quench my thirst….

    rant rant rant..

  14. photocyclist58 says:

    I agree. I love this game. I played it through once and I’ve got 2 characters running now. I’ve got them both at level 20 right now. trying different skill sets. Hopefully EA will get a sequel out. Not holding my breath. I was playing it on a 32″ TV, which just got upgraded to a 50″. Amalur looks amazing on the 50:) It’s totally satisfying when you get to a level where you can make one shot kills. I found an unreachable cache in the “Den of Night” in Ysa. It’s glitched half way up a pillar. This would sweet as an MMORPG. I would also be nice if the level wasn’t capped at 40. I’d like to get all the skills.

  15. Lilith says:

    So much of what people say above is true ……… and yet I just keep playing it.
    There’s something about the ‘world’ of KoA that I love – I don’t know what it is, I just know I feel good running around in it.
    I love Skyrim, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinite, Fallout New Vegas and so on – all far superior in many ways to KoA – but KoA just has an undefinable something that makes me say “I love this game” as much as I loved them.
    You can pick it up for a song (I paid £4.04) so I say go for it – so little to lose, so much to gain.

    P.S. How do I change my avatar – I’ve been given a somewhat peculiar one :(

  16. ohias says:

    I remember when it was released, I tried to play demo which didn’t even start, so I instantly forgot about it. Also the fact that it was published by EA, which I try not to buy games from.
    Funnily enough I tried buying it recently on black friday and Origin wouldn’t accept my payment (error 10048 or something).
    So really, screw this game and EA.

  17. Oberon says:

    I played KoA for a short while, got bored and stopped for a loooong time!
    Years later I picked it up again, gave it a second try and was hooked.
    Yes, the game has some major flaws: bugs, sub-par graphics (especially the teeth of the NPCs – eww!), bad UI, bad quest log and the mind-boggling getting stuck on terrain crap (there should be a law against this).
    But I agree with this post. Even with all these flaws, KoA is great once you get out of the first area and allow yourself to be engrossed in the main storyline. The combat system is one of the best ever made imo (Charkrams or Faeblades anyone! Nothing compares!)
    Skyrim, especially with all the amazing mods out there – is a league of its own imo. But KoA has its own merits and now that it can be purchased for a low price on Steam, it is definitely worth playing even in 2014.

  18. will824 says:

    Thanks for excellent review you posted about this game. I agree its a great game and gives hours and hours of entertainment. Your words were quite reassuring :)

  19. cylentstorm says:

    Ahem. I have a confession to make… The majority of my attention and enjoyment–if not time–spent playing “RPGs” (especially those of the not-so-linear variety) is spent in character creation. This is also true of my experiences with MMOs, but to a lesser extent. I find myself making up stories, or at least the rough outlines, of a character’s origins and motivation–if any–to explore these worlds. My adventures after the birth of my many, many characters in the Elder Scrolls series are usually spent wandering about and trying to see the world through the lens of the people I create. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less about completing the central story arcs of those games, and have not yet–to this very day–“completed” a single one.

    The only major difference that I see between Reckoning and Skyrim–beyond actual game mechanics–is the overall texture of the world. The “feel” of Skyrim is something gritty and detached, or more “realistic” as some would say. Amalur is a “faerytale” story that you inhabit and wander around in–not a sandbox, per se, but something with every bit as much lore in a vibrant, surreal, and almost psychedelic setting. Games like the Fable series (of which I am also fond) seem to fall somewhere between: a smaller, far more directed sandbox with storybook-meets-soft grit aesthetics and tied up with a casual, nearly facebook-like social sim vibe.

    Wot’s my point? Where am I going with this? Nowhere in particular. THAT’s the point. Explore. Be whomever and do whatever scratches your itch. Play your character. Play as yourself. Save the world, or don’t. Finish the story, or say screw the rules and do your own thing. Play the “game,” or don’t. The best games, IMHO, place the fewest restrictions on how the player interacts with the worlds they present. I think that may say more about who I am than what video games are or are not. The same could apply to anyone, couldn’t it?.

    p.s.: Reckoning is fun.