Everything We Know About Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Releasing next week for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an open-world RPG with a number of intriguing features.
Four big names had a hand in creating Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. First up, Curt Schilling, all-star baseball pitcher and dedicated gamer, who founded Reckoning developer 38 Studios in 2006. Initially, the company worked to develop an MMO, codenamed “Project Copernicus,” but after acquiring Big Huge Games from THQ in 2009, the company re-imagined the game as a single-player RPG.
Along with Big Huge came legendary game designer Ken Rolston, best-known for his efforts on Oblivion and Morrowind (check out our in-depth interview). In addition, Schilling tapped marquee comic artist Todd McFarlane (of Spawn fame) to be the franchise’s art director, and prolific fantasy author R.A. Salvatore to create “10,000 years” of backstory.
The result is a big-budget RPG with a unique setting, a striking look, and a distinctive new combat system. What’s more, there’s still the possibility of an MMO — one gets the sense that 38 Studios is waiting to see how Reckoning fares before moving forward on “Project Copernicus.” Read on to learn more about the game; those interested should also check out video of the GameFront team playing through the demo.
As the game’s title suggests, the game takes place in a fantasy universe known as Amalur. Thanks to Salvatore’s efforts, Amalur is provided with a huge amount of backstory and history, which can be perused in detail on the excellent Amalur website. Reckoning takes place during the “Age of Arcana,” a time when magical power is surging through the land, making itself available to races that were previously unable to use it, including humans. As the game begins, the player character is brought back to life using an arcane device known as the Well of Souls. Resurrected, he or she is free to venture forth.
The world of Amalur is very large (see map). So large, in fact, that its beginnings as an MMO are pretty plain. Nevertheless, Reckoning is confined to just five regions:
- Plains of Erathell: Vaguely reminiscent of the African Savannah, the Plains provide varied terrain and a number of magical loci. Dominated by Skycrown mountain, and the city of Rathir in the region’s northeast corner.
- Dalentarth: A classic “enchanted forest.” Dense, green, and full of mystical beasts. Hidden deep within are the secretive Gardens of Ysa and the giant tree Nyralim the Unbreaking.
- Detyre: A sun-baked desert region, full of reddened mesas, cacti, and valuable minerals. The Gnomes, in search of this geological bounty, have a grand city at Adessa.
- Alabastra: Strange and fantastical, Alabastra is difficult to traverse thanks to its rocky terrain and profusion of crystalline trees. Bhaile, it’s main city, once contained the court of the Winter Fae (see below).
- Klurikon: Another magical forest, also inhabited by the Winter Fae. Dominated by Mel Senshir, an ancient, supposedly impenetrable fortress.
Like any good fantasy universe, Amalur is peopled with a variety of different magical races. Four of these will not be available to players:
- Gnomes: Fitting the classic archetype, Gnomes are small, extravagantly bearded, and good with technology. They’re also important to the story — a Gnome named Fomorous Hughes is responsible for building the Well of Souls, which brings your character back to life at the game’s beginning.
- Summer Fae: Amalur has two types of Fae, immortal, elf-like creatures who exercise an important role in a variety of political conflicts. Serene and peaceful, the Summer Fae (also known as the Seelie) embody the power of nature and natural beauty — think life, growth, and rebirth. The Seelie capital is located in the Gardens of Ysa, in Dalentarth.
- Winter Fae: The Yin to The summer Fae’s Yang, the Winter Fae (or Unseelie) represent death and what Reckoning refers to as the “waning of the seasons.” Their capital is at Bhaile, in Alabastra. Despite their spooky appearance, they’re actually not that bad, with the exception of…
- …the Tuatha Deohn. This group of Winter Fae took over the court at Bhaile in a coup, and began waging war. Their leader, Gadflow, is Reckoning’s main antagonist.
When it comes to player characters, four more races are available. They are:
- Ljosalfar: Blue-skinned devotees of nature and justice, with a small-c conservative bent. These Light Elves are important combatants in the fight against the Tuatha.
- Dokkalfar: Dark Elves, who exhibit some of the expected traits: stealthy, subtlety, and cunning. Despite a penchant for skullduggery, they get along with the Dokkalfar, and lead the fight against the Fae from their capital, Rathir.
- Varani: Nomadic human wildmen, who can be found scattered all over Amalur. Their hardscrabble existence makes them hardy mercenaries, and enables them to cultivate really cool facial hair.
- Almain: Orderly and authoritarian, the Almain are the other breed of playable human. Expect them to be stern, law-abiding, and dependable in combat.