REVIEW: ‘Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’ Just Doesn’t Hit like 2012 (Xbox One)

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

I’m a sucker for fantasy RPGs. From the Elder Scrolls franchise to Dragon’s Dogma, I’ve spent a lot of time in new worlds living out my high fantasy dreams. In 2012, my game of choice was Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Initially released on PC, PlayStation 3, and the good old Xbox 360, this action-RPG was developed by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios and published by EA.

The game immersed the player in the Faelands, one of the Kingdoms of Amalur and home to the immortal Fae of the Summer and Winter Courts, and the war raging on. Playing as the “Fateless One,” you died and were revived by the Well of Souls, and thus your journey begins. Now, this high fantasy RPG is back again with a remaster from THQ Nordic with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning and, like many fans who latch onto games, I was excited to enter the Faelands again, create my version of the “Fateless One,” and embark on my hero’s journey.

If you haven’t played Kingdoms of Amalur before, you’re in for a world-building treat with a gorgeous opening cinematic that breaks down the war that has been raging between mortals and the Fae. While the humans keep fighting and killing their foes, the Faes use their immortality to push them back and turn the tides. But despite the heavy casualties and the large impact on your world, you know nothing. Playing as your character, which you name and create, you must learn about the world, the war, and your future, or rather, the lack thereof.

While the idea that a previously dead person can cause a rupture in fate’s plan is a tried and true way to create a hero, the way it is executed in Kingdoms of Amalur is both inventive and full of depth. Having returned from the grave, you are now out of “Fate’s weave” which allows you to be the one person who can alter the fate of the world. Additionally, as you move through the story, you uncover elements of your past. Of course, because it’s a remaster, if you’ve played through this story before, the only new elements you’ll experience are if you choose to play as a different race than you did in the original. Now, while it isn’t as robust as current RPGs, Kingdoms of Amalur features five regions, four races (which is really just two variants of humans and elves), and three class trees (Might, Finesse, and Sorcery) which allow you to upgrade your character with 22 abilities per tree.

Now, in line with the familiar class system, the combat is also nothing out of the ordinary even for its time. The bulk of combat is focused on simplified hack and slash with each action tied to a different button, making it easy to execute nearly every move and renders shields as optional. Additionally, the fate system allows players to accumulate fate points that are used to enter Reckoning Mode which slows enemy movements and makes combat easier. There are also only two crafting skills, Blacksmithing and Sagecraft, which only be leveled up to level 10. To be frank, with high drops, I didn’t put too much time into building out these skills. Which isn’t different from the first time I played the game in 2012.

Everything feels too simple, which felt fun and fast in the past but now feels slightly empty. Outside of a character creation that surprisingly features a wide variety of skin tones, something games currently rarely have, everything else just doesn’t hold up to how the bar on RPGs has been raised since the original game published.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

That side, while the level of difficulty when it comes to managing your character is simple and slightly underwhelming when compared to others in the genre, this Re-Reckoning offers players the chance to enter “Very Hard” mode for the first time which ups the difficulty level. This helps balance simplicity with difficulty. Additionally, while the original game level-locked zones to the level you were when you first entered them, Re-Reckoning scales each zone to your level each time you enter them. Plus, the devs behind Re-Reckoning have integrated a new level calculation system that dampens the speed with which you out-level zones. While this is noticeable, the loot changes nearly undo the difficulty changes outside of “Very Hard” mode, which ultimately makes the game easily completed. That said, if you’re looking for a challenge, this remaster does offer up the same game but harder, which may be a win for some.

For loot in this remaster, instead of level-locking when you enter the zone, each container is scaled to your level when you open the container. While this seems small, it ensures that the loot system keeps pace with the player, while still working within level minimum and maximums set for each zone. Additionally, you also have a better chance of finding items that fit your character’s current skill-set more often and a virtual counter that blesses you with increased chances for better loot drops in the future when you don’t find anything.

Truthfully, there isn’t much outside slightly better graphics that is enticing in this remaster—and I do mean slightly. It doesn’t do enough to warrant a playthrough again unless that’s exactly what you’re looking for. If there is one community of gamers who can find value in picking up Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, it’s the PC modding community because the developers have made the zone level calculation easier to modify my modders. Outside of that though, there is really nothing much to entice anyone to pick it up again. The graphics improvement is small, the combat is fun but simplistic, and the way the story hits is just the same as it did on its initial release.

While Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was one of my favorite games of 2012, Re-Reckoning in 2020 isn’t enough to hook me and doesn’t quite offer enough value in its remaster to warrant the purchase. This is a sad thing given the success of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 remaster which brought with it old, new, and updated graphics. But maybe the success in that remaster stems from the fact that the remaster is of a 21-year-old game and this one is only eight years old.

I don’t really know how to quantify this remaster since it isn’t bad but it also isn’t great. Instead, it lands deep in the middle. When all is said and done, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning will be for someone who loved the game and maybe lost their old copy, for modders, and for people who are just looking to bask in nostalgia. But for the rest of the RPG fans, you won’t be missing much if you don’t head back to the Faelands.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is available now on PlayStation4, Xbox One, and PC.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

I don’t really know how to quantify this remaster since it isn’t bad but it also isn’t great. Instead, it lands deep in the middle. When all is said and done, Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning will be for someone who loved the game and maybe lost their old copy, for modders, and for people who are just looking to bask in nostalgia. But for the rest of the RPG fans, you won’t be missing much if you don’t head back to the Faelands.