How Much Has Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning Improved Over The Original? (First Impressions)

Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning should be out by tomorrow. It’s an interesting game. An action-RPG spin-off for an upcoming MMORPG, didn’t sell well which lead to 38 Studios to shut down, with the MMO never released. The IP lied dormant for a long time under EA, until THQ Nordic decided to acquire it. Hence, this remaster.

THQ Nordic has been putting out a good bunch of remasters recently like SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom and Destroy All Humans. While those two are more substantial remasters, Re-Reckoning sits at a lower bar than those.

Note: We are still working on a full review for Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. This is our first impressions of the game based on the first 15 hours of play

Underwhelmingly Unpolished

I wish not to undermine the effort developers Kaiko has put into this remaster of an eight-year-old game, there’s definitely some good work being made for the remaster. But graphically, it has now become a bit of a mess, technical-wise.

Weirdly, characters now have an odd graphical oddity. You can see a flat pattern of soft black spots running on the faces. Some of the faces have issues too, like eyelids not properly attached to the eyes. Effects like a lit fire also has some weird warping effects that I don’t think was seen in the original (which I happened to revisit early this year). The mini-map’s map has visible seams that are not closed up- you can see black gaps in certain blocks. In short, plenty of weird visual artefacts that were never there before.

Some of the untouched assets also don’t look good anymore. Anything involved 2D art- which do appear slightly pixelated on a big TV screen at 1080p. It’s understandable- that’s going to be a massive job to retouch all of the art for higher resolution. But still disappointing to see.

Those blocky hair textures never looked good back then, and with it left untouched, look even worse nowadays.

But the graphics overhaul is not a downgrade in visual quality in an artistic sense. Textures have been touched up so the world looks more livelier than ever. Those high rocks and overly huge trees you see around the first region of Dalendarth don’t look too pastel-like or mid-00’s World-Of-Warcraft-like anymore.

It’s unfortunate that the remaster brings so many small little niggles. It’s not that the game’s janky. It’s more that it’s underwhelmingly unpolished. The new textures look great. But it comes undone with all these small issues that never appeared in the original.

While these are all forgivable, the one issue the game has on launch is something you encounter during the combat. Remember the hit-stop effects where the game chugs a bit as you land a big hit, thus making the impact more profound and satisfying? Now it feels like that effect is less of an artistic addition and more of the game genuinely chugging.

I have multiple encounters where the game froze for a few seconds, and then teleports the player character to somewhere else- sometimes up in the air. At worst, that greatsword attack that air juggles an enemy hits so hard the game crashes. Oof.

Still An Underrated Gem

Now that all the negatives are out of the way, Re-Reckoning also changes some aspects to the game. Like how it handles enemy and loot levels. This being an RPG, the original Reckoning will match enemy (and loot) level to the level you first enter a zone. But it will remain locked at that level for the rest of the game.

What this means is, if you enter a zone, and then decided to go back to the main questline and visit that zone later to do the rest of the sidequests, all the enemies will be severely underleveled, and all the loot be worthless as it remains scaled to that initial level you had.

Re-Reckoning changes that so now you will always be of as your enemies, even in zones you last visited when you are at lower levels. It’s a very popular community-requested feature- I’ve seen the official Discord specifying this issue for a while- and the change does improve the game a lot.

Also, rarer loot- such as named purple and yellow rarity gear- drops more frequently. It’s a bit weird at first. I was level 4 and I already been getting a handful of purple weapons and gear- something I don’t remember being a thing in the early game. But the good thing is, you won’t have to plough through the 10 hours of the early game seeing the same set of gear over and over. There are some cool-looking gear to put on, contrary to what you see in the early hours, and in Re-Reckoning, you get to see that early and more often.

And a small addition, but good news for console players and controller users. You can now map eight abilities instead of four to a hotkey. PC players have access to the full number row on the keyboard to map abilities in the original- so now controller players can fight using more abilities at their disposal. Hold R2/RT and then L1/LB to toggle between the two sets of ability hotkeys.

Plus, you can even change the Field Of View and other camera settings on consoles, which is a neat, small addition. For the hardcore players, the new Very Hard difficulty is as you’d expect it to be. And all of DLC from the original release (including House Of Valor) are here.

Closing Thoughts

So, how much has Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning improved over the original? Not as substantial to make it a must-buy. The changes are minimal, and unfortunately, there are so many graphical issues that undermine the new world textures and up to 60fps performance on consoles, as well as improved gameplay tweaks.

As long as you can tolerate the many small niggles the game has either because of remaster or how aged the game mechanics are (mash button quick-time events? In 2020?), Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning might be worth a look, or a second chance if you missed out on the original.

Veterans who want to see the game continue to live on (and see what’s the new DLCs coming next year will look like) should consider getting it. Most of the new additions are geared for the loyal fans of this cult hit, rather than newcomers.

Played on base PS4, without the day-one (ver. 1.04) patch. Review copy provided by THQ Nordic

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