Way back in 2012, Kingdoms of Amalur was exactly the kind of game you’d expect a guy like Curt Schilling to back. It was a little bit fresh take, and a little bit generic at the same time – a melding of the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) titles that Schilling was so into with a single player RPG.
At the time, and as a fellow MMORPG devotee, I felt the game was maybe a bit underappreciated both critically, though it got overall positive reviews, and at retail, though it sold fairly well. Amalur offers a world where gamers can play more or less the way they’d like, able to mix and match between three main class types: Might, Finesse, and Sorceror that dovetail with the classic D&D style Warrior, Thief, Mage archetypes.
The system wasn’t quite as freewheeling as Asheron’s Call, the first MMORPG I ever really sank substantial time into, but it was a lot more open than RPG fans were really used to. Additionally, there were all the crafting abilities from MMORPGs like alchemy, blacksmithing, and sagecraft to help round out your character build.
Even the world design felt like an MMORPG, with large zones to explore. Different biomes held different enemies as well as new discoveries to be made, and it all felt like this was a legitimately real fantasy world – and there’s no wonder, with novelist R.A. Salvatore providing the underlying universe and lore that tied it all together.
What changed between then and now, the launch of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning? Well 38 Studios, the company founded by Schilling, declared bankruptcy, and laid off its entire staff a little over a month after releasing the game. FBI investigations started, then the SEC got involved, and it was a huge mess. Ownership of the IP was contested for a while, but ultimately bought by THQ Nordic along with the remnants of Project Copernicus – Schilling’s hoped-for MMORPG set in the same universe.
THQ Nordic saw some spark in that IP that they’re trying to fan into a flame again, and the first step of that is this remaster. Keep in mind that this is a remaster, not a remake or a re-imagining, it’s the same basic gameplay with a new coat of paint on an eight-year-old framework. Don’t go in expecting miracles, it’s not going to look like an all-new game, but it’s still a game that offers something unique even after eight years of game development advancements across the industry.
I still love my stealth build, for example. At times, though I haven’t played an MMORPG in years, it still reminds me of the ‘good old days’ of stealthing into combat and wreaking havoc on opposing players and enemy AI. Nostalgia with a fresh coat of paint? That’s all I wanted out of this remaster and it delivers.
What I Loved:
- Great MMORPG-reminiscent gameplay, still solid eight years later
- Top-notch lore and writing
What I Liked:
- Some nice visual upgrades to texture and overall image clarity
- Good voice work, with a varied cast
- Technical issues from old hardware are gone
What I Disliked:
- Quests can get repetitive
- Not much of an overall visual upgrade
What I Hated:
- Makes me want to play an MMO again…
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Reviewed on Xbox One X, using code provided by the publisher.