Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Review – Same Game, New Coat of Paint
Back in 2012 the action-rpg Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was released by Big Huge Games and 38 studios. This title received generally favorable reviews at release, but was plagued by 38 Studios bankruptcy, and poor timing of the game’s release which was hot on the heels of the Bethesda juggernaut The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After what was a long and messy bankruptcy rights to the series were purchased in 2018 by THQ Nordic who announced, Kaiko (the studio behind the Darksiders remasters), would be developing a remaster of the game for 2020. This remaster called Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is finally out and I’ve had a chance to play-through it. Check out my thoughts in the Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning review below.
Same Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, New Coat of Paint
Back in 2012 I picked up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on a whim after hearing about it online. This pick up sat in my game back log for months until I eventually got around to playing it. What I thought of the experience at the time was a well designed, but overly bloated action-RPG with heavy MMO vibes and a fun combat system. These feelings carry over fairly accurately to the remastered version. The world and combat of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning are unchanged resulting in a similar experience I had with the game 8 years ago with some changes.
Remastered Leveling Systems
As this is a remastered title some gameplay elements have been altered from the original. The first major change is the addition of the Very Hard difficulty. This new difficulty provides players with harder enemies then the rather easy difficulties in the original title. The second major change (and most welcome) is the reworking of the game’s area level lock system. This bizarre system from the original game determined the level of a zone on first entering, essentially locking that zone within a certain level range. In the remaster the zones re-calculates the zone level every time you enter and scales it alongside your character accordingly. This re-calculating means higher level enemies and loot so zones don’t simply become pointless to explore.
These major changes make the experience feel like a more traditional RPG than the original. Instead of cake-walking through level locked zones you now actually face enemies that scale alongside you while getting loot at your level as well. This massive change reworks character leveling increasing the required XP per level while still keeping the original’s cap at level 40.
Alongside these gameplay changes the remaster ups the visuals of the original game. While playing you will notice improved graphical fidelity with native 4K support. These graphical improvements do make the game look crisper at times, but I still found it feels dated in many of the different locations. This is especially true on PC where much of the game often simply looks like the original, but with some visual mods added.
New DLC for Remastered Owners
The final aspect of the remaster I need to highlight is the Fatesworn DLC coming in 2021. This DLC was announced back in July as an expansion to the remastered edition of the game. This expansion is coming to people who own the remaster which makes things a bit complicated for fans. Obviously given the rights situation there is no way around this, but it is unfortunate for players that want the new content, but don’t want to re-buy the ‘new’ game.
Before I render judgement I need to touch on bugs. While I remember my overall experience with the original Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning being mostly positive I also remember a number of bugs that hurt the experience. At the time the game had bugs across a wide number of categories including graphics, NPCs, and story. These bugs could be very frustrating and in some cases game breaking. While I did not experience any game breaking bugs in the remaster I was saddened to find many of the bugs I experienced 8 years ago still in the game. Things like NPCs disappearing, quests not progressing properly, and the rare freeze all occurred during my 20 hour play-through.
Unfortunately my experience with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning left me feeling like this version is unnecessary. As someone who played and enjoyed the original title it felt largely like I was retreading ground I had played before in an (at times) slightly shinier package. While I understand remasters provide this experience the lack of improvements made to an 8 year old game made me question the steep asking price. This is especially clear when you encounter many of the same bugs that plagued the original title.
With that criticism aside I do understand THQ Nordics approach to this release and I’m glad Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is getting new life in the form of DLC and ongoing support. There is a very solid game here that was overlooked when it launched back in 2012. I would recommend this version to players that missed this gem back in the day, but would be less inclined to recommend it to players that have played this title to death unless they really want to open their wallets for some minor gameplay tweaks, some graphical improvements, and a new DLC.
Review code provided by THQ Nordic.