Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review (PS4)
Fate? HA! Fate is my bitch.
Available on: PS4/Steam/Consoles
Genre: Action Adventure RPG
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning starts deep into a war with the Tuatha (aka corrupted Winter Fae), led by Gadflow, and all mortals. It actually seems the Tuatha is starting to get the upper hand, as they have recently pushed further into Amalur’s lands that others thought they would have never reached. Where do you, the player, come in you ask? Well… your story starts with your death as you were brought in as just another corpse to dispose of, though remarked as surprisingly preserved by Hugues and his assistant. However, you end up not being dead as soon after being dumped in with the rest of the bodies, you wake up. You don’t have memories of your past life, and it seems that they will never return, but you’re alive. It turns out that you were the first, and only, successful mortal resurrected through the Well of Souls. Though, you don’t have the time to slowly wake up as the Well of Souls gets attacked by the Tuatha. Luckily, you pick up weapons quite fast again, but you couldn’t save the Well of Souls and couldn’t talk to Hugues for long before you had to escape and the entrance is sealed.
You soon also find out that you hold a power that only Amalur’s Gods have, the power to change fate. Which also causes you to have no fate yourself, and with you not woven into the tapestry of fate, you’re dubbed as The Fateless One. So, it’s up to you to figure out how to defeat the Tuatha before it’s too late.
The story here did end up being quite interesting. While it admittedly isn’t memorable, it is still interesting to go through and does make you want to continue through it to find out what will happen next and to see what has been motivating Gadflow. I will also have to say that the stories within the factions and some of the side quests are great as well. Despite having you travel through the various regions, the side quests that you’ll pick up in the towns give off a sort of slice-of-life feel.
Of course, there are side quests in Kingdoms of Amalur. And a lot of them. As you’re traveling to your next destination, you’ll sometimes find someone on the way there with a quest for you or in the next town/settlement that you come across. There are regular side quests, but there are also Tasks that either have you gather something that is found all around Amalur or is one that will go on forever as the needed item will show up in the loot pool of specific enemies and talking to the Task-giver will grant you money. There are also Factions that you can find and you can start that Faction’s questline. You can actually join all of them without being barred, so that’s cool. There are ones that will be more useful to certain builds, but you can join each one and make your own impact in the Faction.
Since there are a lot, and some are quite involved, I do recommend trying to not overdo it. It’s very easy to spiral down side quests, especially here, but it can get repetitive and it can be a bit disheartening when you see how far you traveled. In my playthrough, I was 20 hours in and I still didn’t do the second quest in the main story questline and maybe only visited an eighth of the map (or around four regions). Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do side quests, as the factions do have their own storyline and there are quests that are interesting, contribute to the lore, and give you helpful rewards; but just make sure you don’t overdo it.
Starting out, you start out as a blank slate. Well, apart from what mortal race you choose at the beginning which gives you a bit of a heads up in certain stats. From the start, you can actually try out all of the weapon types (and I’d like to say a spell, but I’m not too sure) so you can pick out which weapon you like handling. You’re actually handed each type at the beginning so you can then build your character around it rather than finding it when you’re already set (granted, you can reset your character for a price with Fateweavers). Once you get more in, and better gear gets dropped, you’ll see that you’ll need a certain amount of points to equip them. When you level up, you get a point to put into a Skill (or non-combat abilities like lockpicking and persuasion) up to 10 points and 3 points into any ability in the 3 ability trees: Finesse, Sorcery, and Might. The ability trees will give you extra movesets for weapons, give you more effectiveness in that area (like poison or with bows), and even active and passive abilities.
The combat is surprisingly fun to play with. Each weapon type has their own animations and move sets which you’ll get as you put more points into the ability trees. I personally found myself playing a Finesse-Sorcery character that wielded chakrams. The chakrams really hit what I wanted, that being an elemental long(ish) distance weapon that was also fast, and it had some cool animations (especially the dodge attack). You’ll get into a lot of fights, sometimes even when you don’t want to which can be annoying, so it’s best to pick out a weapon that you enjoy and build your character along it.
The Fateless also has a few things up their sleeve. Considering that you have no fate, you will actually collect Fate Cards (or Twists of Fate) that will give you a passive bonus and you can get after certain quests (often the story and faction quests, but some can be received through seemingly normal side quests). You can also choose a Destiny Card which gives you added bonuses to how you’re playing. You start out with being able to choose starter Destinies, but you will unlock more once you put more points into the ability trees. You also have a special ability called Fateshift. You’ll gain Fate Energy while fighting and once you’re filled up on it, you can activate it and enter a Reckoning mode that makes you stronger and temporarily stuns enemies. If you completely deplete an enemy’s health bar, you can then activate a Fateshift fatality move (which also kills any other enemy you depleted as they aren’t fully dead yet). This is due to you being able to manipulate fate threads (which is a bit weird as you don’t actually get a visual representation of it).
Though, there are a few negatives levied against Kingdoms of Amalur, which it’s a shame that they never ended up being fixed or expanded upon. There are occasional performance issues, the game will jitter when going into a new area (which understandable), but it will also happen in certain areas (where sometimes the game will struggle and get slow until you get out of the dungeon or area) and during battles (especially when there’s a lot going on). The game even stopped for me for a good few seconds, long enough for me to think it crashed, before it went back to normal. Also, I did end up into an infinite loading screen when I was trying to go into a Warsworn Faction building without having the quest telling me to go there. The romance options are also disappointing shallow and any choice that would have lasting effects don’t actually really affect the world. When I completed the House of Ballads faction questline I actually choose to rule with the Maid of Windemere, which gets you into a relationship with her and supposedly a bad reputation with the Summer Fae, but there’s nothing really added. There’s no added dialogue apart from Fae there occasionally saying what has become of the faction with the Maid on the throne and it doesn’t seem you have a bad reputation with the Fae as they act pretty much the same. I was disappointed before I moved on from the area.
I did also end up wishing that there was a way to disable markers for side quests (or at least based on the kind it is like disabling Tasks unless you mark one). Though it was nice knowing which ones were near so I can complete the requirements while traveling rather than having to go back (especially if there’s no town/dungeon nearby to fast travel to). And I really wished you could change how the marker for the quest you selected (either by how the marker looked or by color) as it was, at times, hard to tell if a marker was moving on the mini-map and the markers do have a tendency to blend into the map (especially when its overlapping a town marker).
I also found myself a bit confused on what took up inventory space. Items that make sense taking up backpack slots of course took space, but some that didn’t take up space too. I did look it up and see how it was just items that you can categorize as Junk, but I did find some items that didn’t count but could be put in Junk (and some items that you couldn’t Junk, but counted). As well as some items for Tasks that counted, while some Task items didn’t count. You can buy backpack upgrades (and look up a way to technically get unlimited space *wink*) and eventually get a home that you can stash stuff, but you’ll probably struggle with a bulging pack if you find yourself saving different weapon types, keeping armor you can’t wear yet but eventually will be able to, and/or not using potions a lot.
As of now, there are 3 DLCs available. Two of them, Teeth of Naros and The Legend of Dead Kel, is packaged with this re-release as it originally released back with the original release. Both basically adds a new area along with a new main quest storyline to go with it. If you’re enjoying Kingdoms of Amalur, I really do recommend playing through them as it did end up being interesting all around and a good change of pace as you’ll be interacting with new characters and see a whole new area. Teeth of Naros brings you to the new area of the same name and you soon find yourself allying with a lost civilization populated by Kollossae. And of course, they are going through something that only you, the Fateless, can handle. This also brings an addition of a new damage attribute called Primal, which is explained quite confusingly, but basically gives you a buff to elemental damage to any enemy. Then there is The Legend of Dead Kel, which maroons you on an island where everyone there is trapped. This is mainly because of Dead Kel, who was a dead legendary pirate until the island god Akara brought him back to life. This enraged Kel and once he brought back his crew, he went to terrorize those that were unfortunate enough to sail in his waters and to kill those that set foot on his island. And of course, you aim to finally kill him for the second time. Along with this, this brings a tricky map to traverse, a lot more quests (partly because this adds a new faction), a treasure hunt with items that are best for Might character builds, and adds some new items for a pets mechanic that unlocks when doing the faction quests.
You can actually start these DLC questlines at any time (well, it’s recommended to be at least Lvl 10 for Legend of Dead Kel), but the equipment actually scales based on your level from what I’ve heard. So do them as you go along if you don’t care, or wait to get some great equipment. Just be sure to sell off or stash anything you don’t need before getting into either of these two DLCs as both do have points where you won’t have the chance to sell anything or fast travel back to the main area. Teeth of Naros has a narrow window which I never noticed, but The Legend of Dead Kel has a big window as you can only enter and exit by a boat (which you need to continue the main questline to get) and there is a side quest you need to do to get the merchant back.
The newest DLC that released with this re-release is Fatesworn. Unlike the other two, Fatesworn happens after you complete the main story as it takes place afterwards. It turns out that after killing Tuatha and a certain other enemy came with consequences other than having the world be free from fate as Amalur is in the process of being unraveled. This brings you to a new region called Mithros. This brings in Chaos, which will be both a new gear type and something that you’ll be fighting against as you’ll find a lot of Chaos Rifts popping up that you’ll need to resolve. As well as you’re going against the Chaos King. To see Rifts, you’re given a new skill called Chaos Sight, which allows you to see and detect them, as well as tell which ones are connected. Don’t worry, the max level is raised by 10 so you can max this out if you want without resetting your character. To close a Rift, you need to kill all of the enemies that poured out of it to weaken it enough to seal it. Some Rifts may also be be linked, which closing all linked Rifts will open up a Chaos Portal which is basically a dungeon. Fatesworn is overall alright. The writing feels like this didn’t come out 9-10 years later the new region is set up very nicely, and I quite liked the new characters. However, it is much of the same tediousness, the main story does get disappointingly retconned, and best character Alyn Shir only gets a brief appearance.
I honestly had no idea what I was going into, and it probably wasn’t a good idea in not looking at any trailers or gameplay, but I couldn’t resist after I saw the comparison to Skyrim. While I didn’t know what to think at the beginning, I ended up liking my time with it. It’s a shame this was originally overshadowed by Skyrim as it’s pretty enjoyable and it does have interesting lore and an interesting story. Not to mention that it’s just as easy to go down the side quest spiral and there is a lot to do if you want to complete everything. There are sections were it falls; like some side quests being boring, areas kinda looking samey after a while, performance issues, and choices not really making an impact, but this is still worth picking up. This really is a hidden gem and it’s a shame it was overshadowed by Skyrim because it originally released close together. I’m kind of on the fence on it. If you want more Amalur after completing most of the content, if not everything, this will be worth it, but otherwise it might be best to wait on it both for a discount and as a way to give yourself time to refresh yourself before returning. Either way, I do recommend playing the base game first to see how you feel at the end before deciding whether to pick up the DLC.
Before ending this review, I do recommend taking breaks when playing Kingdoms of Amalur. I admittedly got bored towards the ends of my longer sessions, but after taking a break I did come back renewed. So make sure you’re taking breaks and not pushing through if you find yourself bored during a long (more than a couple hours long) session as it can possibly just turn you off from the whole game.