Call me crazy, but February 7th could see my copy of Skyrim get the shelf for a very long time. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is shaping up to be the kind of single-player RPG I just didn’t get from Skyrim. Why the Elder Scrolls hate, you ask? It’s quite the contrary – I don’t hate Skyrim or even dislike it – I enjoy it a hell of a lot, actually.
That said, Skyrim is my first foray into the world of Elder Scrolls, and there lies the main problem: I have…no idea what I’m doing story-wise in that game. Apparently I’m a Dragonborn, and I’m meant to save the land from dragons. Ok, that’s easy enough to understand. But, what are these Deadra I keep hearing about? “Oblivion Crisis?” What the…? Not to mention the overall Elder Scrolls lore that contributes to a supposed atmosphere I’m just not getting. I’m lost – an ignorant fool leveling a character who’s stuck with a single point in archery he’ll never do anything with (the console version is in question here). Way to go.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning fixes that problem, though, by featuring a rich, original story written by R.A. Salvatore, a fantasy writer with loads of impressive credentials. So, the game is accessible to everyone craving a good story, and there’s no lengthy backlog to explore to get the full picture. Not to mention the game is massive, with tons of side quests and branching stories. There’s hours upon hours of content here – time will tell if it holds up in the long run and stays interesting. Here’s hoping.
Gameplay is where the game’s got me real excited, though. Console versions of Skyrim, which many people own (myself included), lock a player into a particular class and skill set. That one point in archery I mentioned earlier – my mage will be stuck with that forever. And I’ll always be a mage, besides. What if that gets old? I should start a new character when I’ve grown so attached to the one I’ve had this whole time? Why can’t my mage stop being a mage and be a thief or melee class?
Amalur fixes that issue by allowing significant (and reversible) character customization. You can be a dagger-wielding, pickpocketing mage who also necromances in his spare time if you wish. That isn’t to say you can’t do these things in Skyrim, but at least here if things aren’t working out or get stale, skills can be deleted and reassigned.
Combat is another major issue I’ve got with Skyrim. You see an enemy, you aim, you pull the trigger. Rinse and repeat. It gets stale rather quickly. Amalur features fast-paced, varied combat that’s more comparable to action RPGs such as…Kingdom Hearts, if I had to compare it to anything. Spells can be accessed through the same kind of sub-menu system, though Amalur allows for weapon-switching on the go.
Story, combat, and customization are big parts of any RPG experience, and Amalur just seems to nail them better than Skyrim did. Just because something is more accessible doesn’t mean it’s watered down, either. Apparently item/armor customization in Amalur is an involved experience, and I look forward to exploring it. The fast-paced combat is sure to keep me awake whereas Skyrim has lulled me to sleep on occasion, and the story will hopefully be engaging enough to draw me in and keep me there.
February 7th is fast-approaching. Who else is excited for this game? Think it’ll be better than Skyrim? Will it crash and burn? Let us know.