Previously only shown to people at the E3 convention this year, the developers of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning have released their demo video to the general public, as well as more information about their upcoming game.
The story has been fleshed out a bit more for us. As I suspected from their last trailer, you play as a soldier who has died & been resurrected using a device called the “Well of Souls.” In fact, the very start of the game is your character crawling out from under a pile of corpses. That’s got to rank right up there with Silent Hill 2 starting in a bathroom as one of the more unsettling ways to start a game. But your resurrection, which you learn is the first successful one, has released you from the chains of fate, which seem to dictate everything in this world. This convenient parting allows you to create your own destiny as well as change the destinies of others.
There are four playable races to choose from: Almain, Varani, Ljosalfar & Dokkalfar. The first two are human races, the second two are elves. As with most RPG’s, each race also comes with unique racial bonuses.
The Almain are a structured & religious people, who value honor & tradition. Foreigners to this country, they seek freedom from the strict regime, but still adhere to their culture’s ideals. Their bonuses are Alchemy +1, Persuasion +1 & Blacksmithing +2.
The Varani are a seafaring people who are often mercenaries, pirates or merchants. They are shrewd business people, & prefer the sword & dagger in war. Their bonuses are Mercantile +1, Lockpicking +2 & Detect Hidden +1.
The elven Ljosalfar are a proud & isolated race who believe they’re suited for giving out justice. Also known as light elves, they are resistant to change & used magic to freeze their homelands to preserve them forever. Their bonuses are Alchemy +1, Dispelling +2 & Sagecraft +1.
In contrast to their steadfast brethren, the dark elf Dokkalfar are known for their sophistication, magic & charisma. The epitome of subtly & grace, they prefer to work from the shadows. Their bonuses are Persuasion +1, Stealth +2 & Sagecraft +1.
Without knowing more about the races, I predict I’ll either be playing as a Dokkalfar or Varani, since I like playing it sneaky & manipulative.
During the character creation demo, it showed the process of creating a character. You select gender & race first. Next you select a patron god or goddess. This adds various passive bonuses based on the one you pick, similar to the birthsigns in Elder Scrolls. The demo I saw only showed the Almain, so I’m not sure if the choices are the same for each race. But what I did see had Fire, Wisdom, War, Order, Justice & None. After that, you customize your appearance. There are several preset faces which you can further customize to your liking. In addition to facial dimensions, you can add tattoo & piercings to your character.
There are three item crafting systems. Alchemy & Blacksmithing should be familiar to most gamers.
Alchemy allows you to craft potions from herbs & other items you harvest in the game.
Blacksmithing allows you to forge your own weapons & armor.
Sagecrafting is something I haven’t experienced in a game before, & it’s creating magic crystals you can use to enhance your items. Think of it as the Enchanting skill in Elder Scrolls.
In addition to creating items, KoA will have lots of enemies & places to loot. Some loot is generic, but others are handcrafted, which their own unique backstories. There are also armor sets, which give bonuses as you collect more of the armor. I can also say from the demo that the game uses shining light to indicate if a corpse has loot on them.
Some information has been given on other skills as well.
Detect Hidden is a skill that lets you located hidden doors, ambushes & other secret items in the world. With a high enough skill, you can not only disarm traps, but salvage them for parts as well, which is useful for the crafting systems.
Dispel allows you to remove wards (or traps) from chests without setting the wards off. From the scene shown, it appears that when you first attempt to dispel a ward, a screen shows the ward difficulty versus your current level. You can auto-attempt or manually attempt to dispel it. Manual dispel brings up a timed spherical puzzle. I can’t be certain, but it looks like the cursor continually rotates & you have to deactivate the wards in order.
Persuasion, obviously, allows you to persuade people. This opens up new dialogue options & rewards. From the screen I saw, it looks like your percentage of succeeding at a persuade is shown next to it.
Stealth is pretty self-explanatory. It lets you get your ninja on. Something different, however, is that this opens up crimes for you, such as pickpocketing & trespassing.
KoA boasts 60 abilities across three trees, Finesse, Sorcery & Might. It looks like the abilities system is similar to that in Titan Quest. When you level up, you gain ability points which you spend to unlock or upgrade an ability. Some abilities are linked together, meaning when you invest enough points into a lower ability, it unlocks a more powerful related ability. Some abilities are active, meaning you have to select to use them, while some are passive.
The destinies come in as a sort of overall class. But unlike traditional RPG’s, where you select a class at the beginning, your destiny is mallable. As you invest in different abilities, you unlock different destinies.
As with all RPG’s, quests play a huge role in the game. In addition to your standard main quests & sidequests, there are six factions you can join. I’m not sure if you can join every faction you want, or if joining one blocks off another. Each faction has its own quests, agenda & storyline. The demo only showed one quest in the Warsworn faction. The Warsworn is a band of mercenaries. In the past, they were a semi-religious order that hunted down creatures of Chaos.
The dialogue system is more traditional, with listed sentences & questions. Important dialogue that advances the story or quest is highlighted in blue & listed first, while more investigative options are listen below it.
I also learned what the “Reckoning” in the title meant. As you fight, you gain “fate energy” from the enemies you defeat. When you gain enough, you can go into “Reckoning Mode.” This is sort of like an uber killing mode. But when you defeat enemies, they don’t just die. Their fates unravel. And if you perform a finishing move on the last enemy before time runs out, it will unravel all the enemies at once & you gain extra experience. This wasn’t shown in the demo, but it sounds pretty cool.
Overall, the demo did a good job of showcasing the game. Although there’s still a lot of testing & polishing to do, the combat looked fast & fluid. The graphics are nice. The game boasts 120 handcrafted dungeons. The visuals are neither super realistic nor overly cartoony. The closest game I can compare the graphics to is Fable III.
I’m very much looking forward playing this game. It comes out on February 7, 2012, & can be pre-ordered now.