When most people think of single player RPG’s coming out of the west, minds tend to flock quickly to BioWare and Bethesda. You might be able to add Obsidian and make a stretch with Lionhead Studios, but that’s about it. With the way things are looking in Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning, there may be a few new kids on the block in the form of this co-development project at 38 Studios with subsidiary, Big Huge Games.
I’m not going to cut around any bushes, so here’s the fundamental core ideas behind Reckoning. It’s an Oblivion style RPG and open world universe, meets God of War combat, with BioWare’s staple branching dialogue tree. Coming from a guy who leans more towards the pause and play tactics of old school RPG’s and was recently underwhelmed with a former old school style RPG trying to go Rambo *cough* Dragon Age 2; what I saw out of Reckoning actually looked pretty damn fun.
The combat appears to be timing based, with QTE’s (Quick Time Events) occurring at the end of fights for added cinematic extravagance. That said, traditional RPG tactics still appear to have an important role. Smashing stuff isn’t going to win the game, so think of it as a blending. In the fights we witnessed, everything looked really smooth outside of an instance where the player character become stuck in the environment (this is to be expected in early builds such as this). Reckoning didn’t appear to be too heavy on the button smashing, which is a good sign. It should be noted that we were watching the Xbox 360 version, so we’re unsure how PC will work at the moment since mouse and keyboard open up a world of difference in games like these.
Unfortunately, the presentation we were given was pretty short and to the point. It primarily involved combat, with a brief description of the game. For instance, you are a nameless individual who has been brought back from the dead. There will be three classes and you will not be forced into playing one for an entire game if you find out you hate it. Not only is the game open world, but there will be a total of five geographically different regions — think tundra, desert, etc — for you to explore. Player aesthetic customization during creation will be decent, but not ridiculously deep. The art style is definitely more on the side of cartoony rather than realistic. Also, there WILL be a crafting system in game for those of you who really want to get immersed from an item creation standpoint. Outside of that, there really isn’t much to add.
With names like R.A. Salvatore involved in the story writing, Grant Kirkhope handling the music, and Ken Rolston (a lead designer on Morrowind and Oblivion during his tenure at Bethesda) working on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning; I think everyone who’s not heard about this game is going to be in for a surprise come release in 2012.