the past few years we have been anxiously awaiting information
from 38 Studios and the projects they have been working on. We expected
the game that they would be developing would have some powerful
potential. After all, when you put Todd McFarlane, Ken Rolston, and RA
Salvatore on a team together, how could it not go extremely well?
Then in May of 2009, it was announced that 38 Studios had acquired Big
Huge Games. This move was a little confusing to some as it was unclear
at that point what the plan was for the MMOG. BHG had been behind some
single player games but how it would relate to the project codenamed Copernicus
Earlier this year the light was shed. For the first time ever, press
was able to visit the BHG studios in Baltimore to get a first look at Kingdoms of Amalur:
. This title is
being developed as a single player game but is set in the same universe
as the planned Copernicus
is a unique IP we wanted to check it out and see what a team of iconic
visionaries could put together.
We headed over to the studios and were shown our first look at Kingdoms of Amalur:
. We began the day
with a walkthrough demo of the game, which we would again see at GDC of
The game is set to launch in 2012 and we were shown just a small slice
of the huge world that's been planned. In Reckoning
magic is appearing for the first time, and there's a war going on as
immortality is first discovered. That's where the player comes in. When
your character is first created it is unclear as to where you came from
or where you're going, and all of that works into the story. The epic
plot unravels as you play your way through the game, figuring out your
role in the world.
The world feels huge, yet familiar. There is a potential play time of
200 hours in this game, so you can imagine the sheer size and detail of
the world. The intent behind the design was familiarity and to feel
that Amalur is worth defending. The level of realism in the game is set
to a level where the world is believable yet mystical. Everything was
hand-placed in the world; there was no auto-generation of terrain or
debris. This is particularly evident as the game switches between day
and night cycles which are set at a 1:30 ratio. At night,
lights will come on and town residents will head to pubs or go to bed
will feel a desire to explore
every nook and cranny as there is
something at every turn, whether it be new creatures or new harvesting
resources. Even so, the world feels like it has a real history and
everything discovered in the world has a purpose. Nothing was put in
just because "it looks cool." Ruins will have a story behind why
they're there. "It's magic" is not an acceptable reason for Salvatore
and the team.
"The system is class-less
so it will be up to the player to decide how they wish to fulfill their
destiny, or build their character through traditional ability trees in
the destiny system. This can be as customized as the player likes, or
if preferred, the game will recognize how the player has been playing
and selecting their points distribution, and will offer destiny
The world and combat has a wonderful score behind it, designed by Nials
Rodgers, with 650 recorded hours of music and sound.
There are four races in Reckoning
two human races (Almain and Varni), and two elvish races (Ljosalfar and
Dokkalfar). The races will each get a racial bonus as well as bonuses
depending on their patron gods. Standard expectations of character
appearance customization are part of the creation process, offering
customization of facial features, colors, piercings, and tattoos,
although there are no body type customization options. The world around
you will also react to your race and background.
So, after you have created your character you can enter the game and
you realize that you are dead. The whole goal from here on out is to
figure out how you have died and why you have come back. BHG was not
about to reveal this information, so it will be up to us to uncover as
we play the game.
We were introduced to the Well of Souls, which is exactly what it
sounds like--a giant well filled with souls. The Well will be a large
focus of the story in the game and its secrets revealed as time goes
on. During the introduction demo we met a gnome character who was the
creator of the Well and we learned that every mortal has a destiny.
Since we were brought back as an immortal we have a blank slate, and
will be able to create our own destiny.
So enough about the story and world, how does the game actually play?
Though we didn't actually get hands on time with the game, we were able
to watch as the demo was played through. The goal of the gameplay is
fluid combo-based combat. Fear not, though, as the combos are not an
intricate series of button mashing in pre-defined Euclidean
combinations. The player can wield two weapons at once, and will have
one button for each weapon. The combos will trigger based on the timing
and rhythm the buttons are pushed as well as the position of the player
to the monster. More importantly, if timing's not your thing, you will
also be able to play just fine by tapping the button in your own
fashion; there will be no need to invest points in advanced combos if
you don't wish to use them. Wearing a shield will allow the player to
parry, which opens more attack opportunities. All encounters have
visual tells indicating an opening for attack or an incoming attack
that will need to be dodged or parried.