Reckoning Demo Impressions
The Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo released today for all platforms! In a surprise twist, it’s even available for STEAM. This is an exciting moment for us. Reckoning is on my personal list of most anticipated games releasing this year and I’m stoked to see the 38 Studios’ first product.
Is Reckoning as good as expected? What platform should I get it on? What are some important details worth knowing? We hope to answer those questions for you by comparing the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the demo.
Before we get into too much detail, let me just say that both of us enjoyed the demo enough to pre-order. The world really captured our imaginations and the experience as a whole, all things considered, was positive. It’s nice playing a western RPG with some color!
Read on for our look at the console and PC versions.
Reckoning plays like a hack and slash action RPG. Boxes are smacked and broken, yielding loot. The combat is fast-paced and well represented by videos already available. The combat feels ‘good’ with the dodge mechanic (direction +Space bar or controller B button) and charging attacks or using spells with quick time events just works.
There are a few oddities, though. Your shield disappears when you’re not actively blocking. When not swinging your weapon it is immediately sheathed. Perhaps this is a style choice? Keeping with odd choices in style, there is a slowdown that console players will be familiar with in combat — almost a ‘sticky’ feel to the combat giving that slow-mo effect. I don’t like it, but Graev says he’s used to it and it’s not a big deal.
Combat has some really neat animations, like when you sneak and use daggers to backstab. There are also neat flourishes performed seamlessly by continually attacking and you can get even more charge-up and different attacks by spending your points to progress your character.
The map opens quickly in the demo to reveal a world that feels about as ‘open’ as some of the larger World of Warcraft zones. Graev and I both agree that this was the best description we could come up with as a point of reference. The opposite of this feel would be a game like Fable which drives you on paths blocked by high walls and cliffs, keeping you moving in a direction that some invisible hand wants you to go.
It’s the little things that made me stop and and stare while playing. I definitely appreciate the attention to detail on the environments. Characters look and feel powerful. Armor and weapons are pleasant to look at. I like the simple complexities of crafting — a system I’m already looking forward to exploring more.
A few things we like:
- The fate system is amazing for character customization.
- Skill/talent trees have lots of options.
- Animations are great.
- The colorful world draws us in to look closely at the pretty details.
- The story is fascinating so far.
A few things we don’t like:
- WHY CAN’T WE PLAY THOSE AWESOME GNOMES?!
- No jumping. Want to jump. Want to jump right now.
Console Version: Feels good
A few glitches here and there that 38 Studios has already commented saying they are aware. Other than that, it’s a polished experience. The first thing Graev told me when I got back from class and hopped on Skype was, “buy me this game.”
Reckoning controls and plays well on the Xbox 360 version. We both like the control scheme and general ‘feel’ — if you’re a gamer you just know when a game ‘feels right’.
The console version is surprisingly gorgeous. Compared to the PC version, the console version, in my opinion, looks superior in many ways. Character faces look smoother and environmental lighting looks more natural, for example. I haven’t done any tweaking on the PC, but I’m sure the full version will have more options and plenty of .ini tweaks. That said, on the right you’ll see a screenshot from the PC version which looks quite gorgeous. I had to turn down my gamma significantly, though.
PC Version: Issues abound
I was really distraught over how bad the PC version felt when I first started playing. The PC version is a console port, and not a very good one. The camera is stuck to the mouse, yet your character moves independently of the camera to a certain degree when moving with WASD. This creates a feeling of having to fight the camera.
The interface is designed for consoles. The interface is unresponsive on the PC version with a keyboard and mouse and felt very clunky.
Several crashes were experienced, each resulting in a complete loss of progress because of the lack of a save feature in the demo. Hopefully the release version does not crash to desktop as often. The PC version also felt less optimized compared to the smoothness of the console version.
Note: Plugging an Xbox 360 wired USB controller into my computer, Reckoning immediately converted to the Xbox 360 control scheme and functioned 100% as the console version does. Wiggling the mouse, it converted to PC controls and touching the controller buttons reverted back seamlessly. Using a controller on the PC made the two versions indistinguishable as far as controls and responsiveness are concerned.
Well done 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. Reckoning is fun, polished, and a game worth picking up (on consoles, at least for now). We appreciate the very generous demo (45 min in the open-world and a dungeon) because it makes us, as potential customers, feel at ease that you’re willing to share your game with everyone before they buy it.
Reckoning feels like the Fable we were promised. The world is begging for exploration. My character is my own to shape and play how I want to enjoy him. The story has me intrigued. The gameplay itself is traditional and more importantly true to that good old fashion fun.
We both want to see the PC version cleaned up. The interface sucks and the controls are wonky. I read a tweet by @ReckoningGame that said the PC version was a version that received equal love. Bull crap, guys, and you know it.
The console version is the superior version and the one we would recommend buying. Yes, we can comfortably say we recommend the game. If you buy the PC version, use an Xbox 360 controller for a 100% better experience.
I’m not sure which version I’m getting. I think I need to play through each of the platform demos one more time before making up my mind, but I’m leaning heavily towards 360 and Graev is 100% set on the 360 version.
Amazon (Currently selling the PC download version 15% off!) and Gamestop have the two best pre-order bonuses. Reckoning is also available on STEAM (TF2 hats), Origin, and Amazon for digital download.