‘Kingdoms of Amalur’ Stashes Quests Behind Online Pass; Developer Criticizes ‘Elder Scrolls’ Games

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Kingdoms of Amalur Need Online Pass

Founded by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, developer 38 Studios has come a long way in its short seven-year life, landing its first title, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, on our list for this year’s for this year’s most anticipated games of 2012. However, just a week and a half ahead of its February 7th release, the fantasy action RPG appears to be playing a new kind of hardball with gamers and its industry peers.

In lieu of Bethesda’s runaway success, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, 38 Studios’ subsidiary Big Huge Games wants to disseminate their opinion that Kingdoms of Amalur has a whole lot more to offer. One of the game’s lead developers (and former Oblivion and Morrowind lead), Ken Rolston, chatted with GameFront recently and declared that Kingdoms is raising the bar for combat in RPGs.

“What makes Reckoning differ from Skyrim?… Reckoning has the best, coolest, fastest-paced, most tactile and silly-exciting fantasy combat of ANY video RPG. The pace, fluid movement, tactical richness, and physical and visual theater of fantasy combat has always seemed the weakest feature of video RPGs, and Reckoning offers a fresh new answer in that department.

Reckoning [also has a] more vivid, colorful art style, and easy-to-pick up, faster-paced gameplay in general.”

Rolston didn’t spend the entire interview flinging Elven daggers; he would go on to compare the two games in several lights. However, he did conclude by saying that Kingdoms, tries to take a fresh look at the RPG genre.”

Kingdoms of Amalur Need Online Pass

Coincidentally, this wasn’t the only instance where Big Huge Games attempted to instigate a staff-measuring contest with The Elder Scrolls. Lead designer Ian Frazier spoke to CVG in a long and thorough interview about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and revealed why he thinks Ken Rolston might have left The Elder Scrolls franchise.

“Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, they’re all great games, and I think they’re progressively better, but they’re all the same game. It’s not like they’re radically changing with time. I think he wanted to do something new.

What can we do to take RPGs in a new direction? With Reckoning, there’s a lot of things we’ve upped the bar on, but the really exciting one was combat: he was just excited to do combat well which, frankly, they didn’t do in the Elder Scrolls series. They have a lot of other strengths, but combat isn’t really their thing.”

Combat in Skyrim (or the rest of The Elder Scrolls series, for that matter) has certainly shown room for improvement in the eyes of many gamers, but it’s a bold proclamation to pan it altogether. We detailed a lot of the combat in Kindgoms during our PAX East preview of the game, and The Elder Scrolls it is not; the fighting style is orchestrated around button press combinations and properly timing gestures to initiate more lethal salvos. That said, fans of Fable and God of War would instantly recognize the formula, so whether or not Kingdoms can “take RPGs in a new direction” remains to be seen.

One new direction that’s not just limited to RPGs but is featured prominently in Kingdoms of Amalur is the ever-controversial online pass. While we previously reported that the Mass Effect 3 demo would unlock some nifty N7 duds for Kingdoms, Destructoid has now discovered that the pass is needed to download it. Even worse, the so-called “online” pass is required for seven full quests in the offline single-player storyline.

Kingdoms of Amalur Need Online Pass

This is probably the appropriate juncture to mention that Kingdoms is being published by Electronic Arts. The company has incorporated the pass into almost of all of their games, including their sports franchises and blockbuster releases like Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3.

The concept was originally devised for games that offered some semblance of a multiplayer component – and even then, it’s been met with harsh criticism. When a single player game like Kingdoms of Amalur tacks one on (a la Batman: Arkham City), that’s not going to separate it from The Elder Scrolls series in the way their development team has recently expressed. If anything, it will make us yearn for the days of horse armor all over again.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning releases on February 7, 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple

Sources: GameFront, CVG, Destructoid

TAGS: 38 Studios, Big Huge Games, Electronic Arts, Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, PC, PS3, The Elder Scrolls

19 Comments

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  1. i don’t see the problem with online pass, if you buy the game brand new then you have nothing to worry about, its just there to ensure the publisher and dev team at least get some money for when retailers decide to reap in all the cheese.

    as for the ‘hate’ on elder trash, i agree wiht everything they say, not only is amalur a prettier and more fantasy orientated world, but the creature and character animations are amazing and combat is just epic for an RPG of its size. dev’s could def learn a thing or 2 from big huge a studio that has only come around recently… i would be embarrassed if i was a long time running dev team and saw the brilliance that is amalur.
    what i find funny is how bethesda has been making garbage for so long yet they haven’t evolved anything in their games, the only cool thing about fallout and elder is the scale of the world, it has no substance, no consequence system nothing to encourage exploration besides curiosity and boredom.
    but i suppose thats what happens when you’re considered ‘the best’ at making RPG’s, you get lazy b/c you know you’ll sell no matter what *sigh*.

  2. Erroneous argument against Bethesda. If you don’t like a game, say so. Don’t label it the wrong formula simply because you think it should change. People seem to be so brainwashed nowadays into thinking everything MUST change or become “more of the same.” The successful studios are those who learn to “brand” their product. The sooner you learn this concept the better for all of us gamers.

    • hack and slash 90′s combat is not a ‘own brand label’, its just poor design and even worse programming skills. repetitive textures and dungeons doesn’t encourage people to role play, it encourages them to not play. one dimensional NPC’s and boring quests force the player to go about their own methods of having fun instead of being able to enjoy the narrative and say they played through an epic adventure.

      • jwalka, here we go again.

  3. I’m canceling my preorder.

  4. I’m losing alot of respect for these guys. Going after the competition is a surefire sign of inferiority. Anyone who is playing an Elder Scrolls game thinking it’s going to be a fast paced, combo intesive, finish and forget type of game really is in the wrong place. I’m glad that Bethesdas swords still have weight.

  5. played the demo of this crappy game and am rofling over their pathetic TES hate. their just butt-hurt that their game is crap and they know it is. this is about as bad as EA blasting activision, though DICE had the better game, EA made themselves look like immature children. trash talking and mud slinging just make you look like an A$$hole.

    and now to summarise jwalkas impending comment: “Spoken like a true fanboy. you just think if it aint tes then its crap. i hate s-o-b’s like you (insert expletive) (insert expletive)(insert expletive)(insert expletive)(insert expletive) i hate the world (insert expletive)(insert expletive)(insert expletive)(insert expletive)

    youre damn right jwalka, and you can just go f**k yoself.

    • gtfo of here piece of trash fanboy, that 1hr demo was better then the most of your precious glitch fest. you are probably one of the most ignorant depressed piece of trash i have come across, just dont even bother replying to my posts b/c all you do is embarrass your worthless and immature self.

      just go back to playing you broken hack and slash glitch fest with no creativity b/c that’s what you’re used to – doing the same s*** over and over again looking down on change and innovation. you are a prime example of why brands like CoD have been driven to hell, b/c you retards love playing the same thing over and over and don’t want change, and to make things worse you cry for change when the reality is you would buy the same bs yr after yr b/c you’re a sheep.

      • Oh boy, it’s been a while since I’ve seen two children bickering over the internet. This is like a dream come true.

  6. Wow people are ridiculous. There is a difference between subjectivity and objectivity please learn that and stop ragging. And amalur is going to be a good game yet different from skyrim but that’s okay there is enough room for both. Also niether game is better looking than the other they are different art styles that covey the atmosphere of the title.

    • the two cant live along side one another elder scroll dominates the world with its game breaking bugs and glitches, boring combat, stale narrative and NPC’s and repetitive level design, its way superior then amalur which does everything skyrim doesn’t – its good

      i would cut bethesda some slack, but skyrim is so terrible i cant go along and pretend it isn’t. its one of those games that everyone likes b/c a friend said it’s cool and their friend said it’s cool (so on and so forth). if the game was actually good and stable i wouldn’t rip it to pieces and i would actually still be playing it. but again it’s hard to play something that doesn’t want to work.

  7. I have a few problems with the Kingdoms of Amalur demo, lest of which the combat didn’t feel ‘tactical’ it felt button smash-y. There’s nothing wrong with button smasher’s, I’m just not really into them. My main problem was the bad camera, really in this day and age why can’t developers give us a decent camera (Ninja Gaiden I’m looking at you)? I spent more time fighting the camera then fighting mobs. The mobs looked really nice, in a WOW kind of way, you can tell that Todd McFarlane was involved in this.

    When I was running and stopped it looked like my toons took a second or second and a half to stop going forward. The same was true for lock picking. Also the dialogue wheel/tree combo needs to be worked on since I found at bunch of instances where the wheel wouldn’t work and picking tree options the sound would cut out.

    I was really looking forward to this game but now I think I’ll wait for it to go on sell. That online pass business model also makes me iffy of this game, I shouldn’t have to jump through hopes to play a game that I buy.

    • everyone has complained about the camera on the official forums and they’re working on fixing it. everything else will probably be fixed in the final version b/c we only played one of the recent builds of the game, we still have a few weeks left until release.

      the combat can be ‘button mashy’ but it can also be combo based like in DMC, ninja gaiden etc, it really depends on whether or not you’re willing to put the effort in to learn some combos or are willing to mix button presses up to find new combos. i for one made at least 3 sets of 6 hit combos, ranging from staff and sword duo, to fireballs from my staff followed by quick strikes with my daggers. can’t wait to play with the reasonably wide range of weapons in the final release and i found the free content give away just for paying to be all the more enticing

      • Just because ‘everyone’ complained about the camera doesn’t mean it’ll be fixed at launch or any time soon after. That camera alone would annoy me to no end, making the game a no buy by itself. Hell EA/BioWare a 3.5 billion dollar company told us that Dragon Age 2 would have auto attack on release…now how many months did that game go without that on the xbox?

        This I don’t get “everything else will probably be fixed in the final version b/c we only played one of the recent builds of the game, we still have a few weeks left until release.” Woulda shoulda coulda, at the end of the day they need time to make there disks which means that most likely this is what we’ll get at launch not some perceived notion things “will probably be fixed in the final version.”

        The best thing they can do is delay there launch for a couple months and fix these problems (including that crappy “so-called “online” pass is required for seven full quests in the offline single-player storyline”). Online pass to play quests that are on the disk is also another reason not to buy a product from this company.

        And the combat…no just… no. I consider both DMC, Ninja Gaiden as members of the button smash crowd which like I said there is nothing wrong with that it’s just not for me.

  8. The more they talk, the less I wanna buy this game. Demo is quite mediocre, graphics is long time dead WoW-style, combat is arcade and almost nothing new to Dark Souls, Witcher and Fable, but they keep screamin “You want our game!!! You want it sooooo badly!!!” No, I don’t.

    Why can’t some people just leave combat be in a few different styles?
    I see too many games that repeat all the same formula. Dodge, dodge, dodge, swing, swing, swing. Slower, faster, less combos, more combos. It’s about Fable, Witcher, Dark Souls, and now Recocning. So what’s so new about it.. stupid combos? I can’t believe that Ken Rolston thinks that it’s main part of an RPG, and if he does, then i’am glad he left Bethesda.

  9. I bet GameRant loves this jwalka guy/girl.

  10. I’ve played the demo… I thought i was playing some kind of expansion pack of Fable, then I realized it was a mix between Fable and WoW.

    Guys, please… Great animations? Did you use the shift button to generate in a second a shield out of nowhere, sorry… I mean block.

    This game sucks. It’s another hack n’ slash that’s going to be forgotten.

  11. jwalka, let me guess; someone stole your sweetroll.

    idiot/fanboy/child

  12. When Reckoning sells 3.5 million copies within 48 hours of release, this jerk-off will have a point. Until then, keep dreaming, Rolston. Keep dreaming.

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