Reckoning Demo Impressions

Reckoning PC vs. Console Image
Keen's Xbox360 (left) and PC (right) Reckoning setup.

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:

  • No jumping.  Want to jump.  Want to jump right now.


Console Version: Feels good

PC Version screenshot. Thank you for making a RPG with COLOR!

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.

  • I hadn’t been following this game at all really, but the demo was great. I agree the standard PC controls didn’t feel right, but with my 360 controller it felt fantastic. I’ve watched a number of videos now about the game and am getting excited. Haven’t tried the game on my PS3 yet but I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting it for that, as the game just feels like it was designed around consoles.

    And agreed, those armored Gnomes were awesome.

  • Kurt should know better then to have his company release a questionable quality console port to the PC platform. They better not pull the same stunt with Copernicus, or whatever it ends up being called.

  • After looking at the pre-order bonuses I’m probably just going to grab the game on Steam rather than worry about bonus items. I find that especially with RPGs like this the pre-order bonuses always seem too powerful for having so early in the game.

    Although I do see Amazon has the PC Download version for 15% at the moment, so it’s just $50. I don’t know if I’d be able to use the download key on Steam though, which is what I’d rather have the game for.

  • After doing some quick google-fu, it appears if you buy the PC from anywhere other than Steam, you’ll have to do a 1-time activation through Origin. After that you can run it stand-alone apparently.

    Steam version does all it’s activation stuff through Steam directly.

  • KoA:R has been one of my biggest games I have been awaiting for a good while now.

    Right off the bat I ran into an issue with my ATI HD5800 that required me disable Post Processing else eveything was black. I also experienced a few slow downs that I wasn’t excepting with my fairly new alienware machine. ALl in all though the game seems fun enough and I didn’t play too far into it as I don’t want to spoil the game when it’s released on the 7th. All in all I think it will be a big hit. That said I was slightly disappointed with the system responsiveness while playing on a fairly high end machine. I did like the 360 controller while I was playing and yes WTF is it without jumping. I was rather disappointed in that. I like jumping in my games.

  • Played the demo for about a half hour this morning. Didnt care for the responsiveness of the character control at all. It was like everything happened a half second late. This was on the 360. Also the mob ai was bad. When i would have two mobs attack me, one would just stand there doing nothing until i attacked it.

  • @Idunaz: The first area is a tutorial. I think the AI is supposed to take it easy. I’ll be playing on the Hard difficulty to make it tougher.

  • Having played the PC demo a bit more today with the 360 controller, I’m still really enjoying everything about the game so far except the camera. I feel like the camera is zoomed in way too close. I find a lot of times I’m being attacked by or attacking an enemy that is off-camera. Haven’t found any way to zoom the camera out.

    It’s easy to remedy by rotating the camera, but kind of a small annoyance.

  • I was wondering if anyone has had to chance to play the ps3 and xbox versions and can offer a comparison between the two. I’m going to buy one of those, just not sure which. I’m in the process of downloading the ps3 one, but I only have xbox live silver so I can’t get that one (yet). Just curious.

  • Melee combat seems to be fun, though a bit too cartoonish for my taste. Cartoonish combat was the main reason I never bought Dragon Age 2 either.

    The ranged combat (both bow- and spell-based) is simply atrocious, at least on the PC version. The system desperately needs some sort of targeting reticle so you can actually see where your shot is going. I frequently found my arrows and spells flying off at a 45 degree angle from what I considered the intuitive point of aim.

    If they fixed the ranged combat and dropped the price to $30, I’d consider purchasing it, mostly to support a company for which I have some fairly high hopes.

  • I agree with Vatec… really needs a targeting reticule and a true NO lock on combat style… or a full lock-on system with at least a red circle or something under the enemy your character is locked-on to… right now it seems to be in the middle… there seems to be a “soft” lock-on system… but it’s not communicated very well to the user… needs to either be full lock-on or no lock-on at all… the in-between crap is just confusing.

    I also had some weird stuff happen with the ranged combat… sometimes it would fire at what i seemed to be locked-on to… and other times it would just fire somewhere randomly… was weird.

    also the camera desperately needs to be adjustable.

    and there’s no friggen jump!!!… you can’t have a good action game without a JUMP button… how could they overlook this?

    was really looking forward to this game, and the combat is definitely better than Skyrim… but i’m still kinda disappointed… hopefully they get it fixed for the MMO.

  • On the subject of camera and other little oddities, I found this interesting forum post over at Reckoning’s official forums:

    Basically the Lead Combat Designer is calling for anyone with feedback on the demo to post their so they can get an idea of what the player’s think could be better and whatnot. Specifically they are talking about the camera as well. It’s really nice to see a dev really taking an interest in feedback from the players.

  • I played the demo first on pc and then on ps3. On the pc the controls were clunky just like you guys said, and on the ps3 the controls were initutive. On the ps3 version somehow the game screen on the monitor was all filled out, while on the pc there were black bars up and above.

    I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the game, it reminded me alot of my first days in world of warcraft in the elven starters area. It felt peaceful in towns and i would just like to stand around a bit and looking around me.

    Well, i enjoyed the game and will surely buy it on Ps3, the gfx looked better too but maybe coz i have an old pc.. 🙂

  • no jumping!!!! and not being able to Zoom out with the mouse wheel were huge negatives for me. I actually felt a little nauseous as scrolling around with the mouse the movements were jittery, not smooth. Still can’t believe there is no jumping…wtf…

  • Finally figured out the post processing bug on 5800 series ati cards so was able to play. Combat mechanics felt great, reminded me of Fable in a good way. Meaty and satisfying. The block mechanic was straight out of Oblivion which I love.

    The graphics were TOR + WoW though, and that’s not a win for me. The cartoony style just isn’t working for me outside of WoW it seems very derivative.

    But the combat is keeping me intrigued. If they could pull that off with gcd’s in a mmorpg it would be revolutionary. We’ll see.

  • @Jim

    Great thing about the combat is that you don’t need gcd’s … the animations act as a gcd. (not that gcd’s have ever been necessary, they’re not, they’ve just become the norm in MMOs so people expect it now.)

    all i want in the MMO version is a jump key, an adjustable camera and UI, and no load screens when entering buildings and stuff.