Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is here on the Nintendo Switch, bringing all of the goodness from the 2020 title with it, and on multiple new platforms, but, with a few speed bumps along the way.
+Combat that is both exciting and ever-evolving based on your play style
+Tons of dungeons to explore, loot to be had, and challenges that await
+Controls are easy to learn and intuitive
+Looks pretty decent on the Nintendo Switch
-Framerate issues and load times do remain apparent through the overall experience
-Tends to show its age when it comes to player friendliness from time to time
Editor’s Note: Due to the fact this is a very story-driven game, we’ve opted to refrain from using late-game screenshots to help avoid spoilers of any kind. All screenshots used are from within the first ten hours of gameplay.
In 2012, Kingdoms of Amalur had hit, delivering a unique title in a rather large landscape, one where Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was already running rampant, delivering larger-than-life experiences. Due to that, Kingdoms of Amalur fell into popularity among a rather niche crowd, boasting a unique approach to graphics, story-telling elements, and a rather bulkier system than its competitor titles.
Fast-forward nine years later and we’re seeing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning get a second chance at lief from publisher THQ Nordic and developer Kaiko who decided that the story of the Fateless One deserved a second chance at life. However, there are a few good and bad reasons behind it all, some of which aren’t exactly noticeable if you only scratch the surface.
In the scheme of things, this isn’t exactly a remaster, with the exception of a few performance improvements, bug fixes, and resolution upgrades. On the Nintendo Switch, it doesn’t exactly do a lot different than it did all of those years ago. So what exactly has it done to improve, if anything? Well, since we avoid spoilers here, let’s talk about the technical aspects of this remaster.
It’s time to start playing with magic and looking deep into the world of Amalur
Under the hood, there’s a lot going on with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Truth be told, it’s a rather large mixed bag of tricks and there’s a lot to digest from what it has to offer. So, let’s break this down by starting out with how things really go and how to readjust them so it’s a simplified version of it. So we’re going to actually talk about things in a few different segments to make things a bit easier.
First up, exploration. Much like any game of this magnitude, exploration – quests included – has a lot going on here. Some of it, unfortunately, can be a slog due to only having a single mode of transportation outside of fast traveling and that just happens to be an insane amount of running about.
Exploration, however, is key. You’ll find hidden quests, items, collectible dialogue options, journals, etc, throughout the world on a rather impressive scale. This could have been done equally as well with an alternative mode of travel such as a mount or even faster-sprinting speeds than what is already put into place. Hell, even a “taxi” service would have been nice.
From a player standpoint, there’s a bit too much running around and unfortunately, it does break the level of immersion some players may have when playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Franchises such as The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls have figured this out for quite some time.
While it would take away from many of the random encounters you will face, it does give the idea of getting around a bit of an exciting touch when a grand adventure awaits you and you don’t have a fast travel point near where you are headed. It only makes sense in the long run, but, there’s still room for hope with the upcoming expansion later this year.
A dance of blades, spells, and magic is the combat experience in Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning’s gameplay loop
As exploration and combat do go hand-in-hand, it’s only right to explain why combat is such an interesting part of the gameplay loop. Unlike many games, TES V: Skyrim included, is that you don’t have to play your character any specific way. Want to be a bow-wielding archer that can sling magic across the room without a care in the world? You can do that.
The freedom of choice in class building and combat is a hand-in-hand duet that’s rather nice since it works out as intended. Combat, while in its most basic form is utilizing “X” and “Y” buttons, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it gets even deeper when you add in spells and abilities. If you’re to try and lock onto an enemy, you’ll be saddened to know that you can’t, which is a crying shame.
Want to hurl a ball of chain lightning or prime enemies for a fire-based detonation? Combo them together and you’ll send enemies hurling across the room in agony as their health is quickly depleted. It also comes into the fact that each skill tree as you level will benefit your choice of style and there are character fates to match it as well, giving you special bonuses to the talent trees you decide to invest into.
This means your choice of weapons, is truly your choice. Want to be a long-ranged combatant that never lets their enemies get close? Finesse and Might are great options, as is Sorcerery as you’ll be able to summon a minion to your side, specialize in damage reduction, staves, wands, and chakrams, and upping their combat capabilities.
That doesn’t even begin to include the decent little boosts you’ll get from armor sets, weapon stats, potions, and various other shrines you’ll find as you explore the world. This is also the games biggest drawback: It’s a lot to take in and for folks who aren’t used to this approach will get overwhelmed until they adjust.
Adjusting to the game might include learning enemy weaknesses and resistances, learning how to craft specific pieces of armor, or matching set items in order to get the most of what your character can do. Needless to say, there is just a ton to take in as this is easily one of the most in-depth games of its kind.
All that shines in Amalur, isn’t always gold, and could be a bug
Unfortunately, you already know that everything that shines isn’t necessarily gold, but can be something else as well. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a victim of this very statement as well – at least on the Nintendo Switch as the PlayStation 4 build that we played, well, it’s pretty damn solid through its graphical upgrades, but we aren’t going to do massive comparisons using that build since we are discussing the Switch build.
When it comes to graphics, performance, and load times, the Nintendo Switch version does fall on hard times quite often. If one were to put the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 builds next to the Nintendo Switch version, you’ll find that load times are almost identical. You’ll wait on an average of 20-30 seconds, sometimes as long as 30-40 seconds depending on the area you are in.
You’ll even find that graphics, at times, have taken a small hit with shadows clipping in areas they shouldn’t, jewelry on a customized character being completely out of place (not even on the face), and facial features seeming slightly off from time to time on NPCs (this has happened on the PS4 build as well).
Framerates seem locked at a cool 30 frames per second with resolutions hanging around 720p in handheld and 1080p docked. You won’t notice a huge jump in graphics if you were wondering as the graphics are more-or-less the same. Battery life, however, does take a massive hit. We tested both generations of Nintendo Switch and found that our battery life only saw a minor improvement on generation two, leaving us around three hours of battery life and two and a half, respectively.
However, this should be expected as it is with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You’re processing a lot of real-time data, graphics load-ins, and even an impressive amount of shadow rendering for a Nintendo Switch title. If that’s not a big deal to you, then awesome, but for folks on the go, you’re going to want to grab that portable charger if you’re in for the long haul.
On another note, bugs weren’t exempt from actual gameplay. Believe it or not, we had several quests where our enemy NPC would disappear under the map, leaving us to reload from a checkpoint if we continued to try and find the opponent that we had. Having only to repeat the mission a few good times before finally finding luck to be on our side. There is plenty of room for improvement, which hopefully, happens before or with the next expansion when it drops.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for a lot of improvements from the original release, you’re going to be at a loss here. For better or for worse, this is just a solid re-release without the chains that held down the original title, including functionalities that EA had once established ranging from Online Passes to EA account locked content, which ended some of the game’s overall accessibility.
Fortunately for us, Kaiko ended that, bringing with it a full-blown and functional title that does just as it should. It takes fans on an adventure that spans hundreds of hours through the base game and two major expansions, with a third on the way, and, well, tons of reasons to try out various different builds throughout the campaign.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Versions Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: Available Now
For better or for worse, this is what we had hoped the came could have been nine years ago only to re-emerge in modern times in order to give us the experience we wanted while exploring the lands of Dalentarth. Here’s to hoping, however, that we see more of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning moving forth with famed personalites such as Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore and Erik J. Caponi moving forward.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.