A Beginner's Guide To Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Many eager RPG fanatics will be picking up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning tonight, the new title from Big Huge Games that introduces 38 Studios’ new fantasy IP. While you’ll have to wait until later tonight to read my full review, a game this gigantic deserves some guidance. Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey through Amalur.
If you’re playing the PS3 version of Reckoning, you’ll note the forced installation at the beginning. If you opted to go with the Xbox 360 version, take my advice: Install it to your hard drive. Not only does the installation make some of Reckoning’s tiny bugs less frequent, but more importantly it decreases the load times. When you’re wandering around out in the open, loading isn’t a big issue, but once you start fast traveling everywhere or trying to explore all of the buildings in a city, you’ll be hitting loading screens all the time. The install makes a difference and is worth it in the long run.
Taking out the trash
Reckoning’s menu and inventory system isn’t particularly new or groundbreaking, but it is fairly elegant once you get used to it. Every time you loot a treasure chest or a fallen enemy, you can scroll through the list and quickly compare any armor pieces or weapons to what you currently have equipped. If it’s not an upgrade, a simple button press will send the piece to your trash list. The next time you’re at a vendor, you can auto-sell all of your trash with a single button press instead of needing to sell each item individually. You’ll be picking up a lot of non-upgrades throughout the game, so making a good habit of using the trash feature early on will save you time and annoyance.
Every time you enter a new town, be sure to check in with every vendor in the area and do a thorough look through their goods. In addition to crafting recipes, specific vendors throughout the world of Amalur sell backpacks that will permanently upgrade your inventory space, which becomes increasingly important and helpful as the dungeons get bigger. While you’re at it, don’t be afraid of buying armor or weapon upgrades. The deeper into Reckoning you get, the more you’ll find that money is not at all a concern thanks to huge quest rewards and piles upon piles of loot to sell.
Searching for secrets
In addition to traditional skill points, you’ll be able to power up one of your non-combat skills with every level – stuff such as lockpicking, blacksmithing, and enchanting. All of these are helpful and by the end you should have a fairly well-rounded mix, but I recommend focusing on pumping points into the Detect Hidden skill early on. This priceless ability allows you to find hidden treasure caches around the world and even passively increases the amount of gold and loot you find at all times. It also eventually lets you detect traps and the Lorestones hidden in each zone.
Playing your role
Like an Elder Scrolls game, the quests in Reckoning generally break out into three categories: the main story quest, a handful of faction quest lines, and a seemingly endless number of smaller stand-alone sidequests. Also similar to Elder Scrolls, the factions – such as the melodic House of Ballads or the roguish Travelers – provide some of the most interesting quests and plot twists in the game. More importantly, completing them unlocks huge, permanent stat bonuses called Twists of Fate. I highly recommend focusing in on finishing up each faction line as you uncover them.
As for the tons of sidequests, play as many as you want, but feel free to save them. You’ll be able to jump back in and finish them up when you complete the game, and you don’t want to burn yourself out trying to check off everything before you hit the ending.
Mix and match
Reckoning puts players in control of a hero who can change his fate in a world where everyone else is bound to it. That freedom extends to the gameplay. In other RPGs it’s usually in your best interest to focus on a specific path of character development and drill down to the best, high-level skills. Not so with Reckoning. While it’s totally feasible to spend all of your skill points on warrior, mage, or rogue/archer skills specifically, you’ll find just as much fun mixing and matching to figure out what you like. I spent most of my game with two-thirds skills in the warrior tree and one-third in magic talents, but that balance changed greatly throughout the 60-plus hours I spent playing. That’s because you can reset your skill points at any time by visiting a Fateweaver and paying a small amount. The game wants you to try out every combination possible, and all of them are fun in their own way, so give it a shot.
Don’t be afraid to sneak
I can’t speak for everyone, but I will generally go far out of my away to avoid the stealth mechanics in most action-RPGs that offer them. They’re usually flimsy and frustrating. Because of this tendency, I didn’t discover until way too late into the game that the stealth in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is actually pretty enjoyable, especially once you sink a few skill points into it. Add on the bonus of satisfying instant-kill animations, and this is definitely a part of the game worth experiencing.
Maximizing the experience
Early on in the story you'll be introduced to a combat mechanic known as fateshifting. You may be tempted to save up this powerful slow-motion ability and only use it in boss encounters, but fight that urge. Your fateshift meter fills up relatively quickly and allows you to receive huge XP bonuses when used correctly. I recommend taking advantage of fateshift any time you run into a relatively large group of enemies and have it available. Use it wisely, and you'll be gaining levels faster than you can shout "Ding!"
These tips should be enough to get you started, but there's plenty of amazing secrets waiting to be discovered in the mystical realms of Amalur. Share your tips and thoughts about the game in the comments.