Hardwire Dragon sent in a short little message to the Ultima Codex last week:
Thank you for running this site. It’s amazing to see Ultima is still alive in the hearts and minds of its fans after all these years.
We couldn’t agree more; the endurance of the Ultima fandom — and the continued passion of its fanbase — even though it has been over 15 years since the last published single-player entry in the series, is pretty darn awesome. And thanks, Hardwire, for the note and encouragement.
The great tragedy of Big Huge Games’ Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is that it all but demands a sequel, and will never have one. Although its developer, Big Huge Games, has re-opened, the Amalur IP remains the property of Rhode Island in the wake of the 38 Studios bankruptcy.
In some respects, Reckoning can be thought of as a single-player MMORPG. The game is methodically laid out, and while there are numerous narratively rich side quests in addition to the main story, there are also plenty of fetch quests and monster-killing missions. The crafting system is well-implemented, the skill trees add meaningfully to the gameplay, and the Destinies concept — essentially, interchangeable meta-classes that can be reassigned on the fly — adds an interesting strategic element to how you manage your character.
Combat in Reckoning, however, is anything but methodical; it is hyper-kinetic and brutal, fast-paced and tactical. The key to combat in Reckoning is movement, and also innovation. You can use an array of weapons and abilities, and while you’ll eventually settle into particular patterns for these, the combat rarely becomes boring for it. And in a certain sense, it’s the combat in Reckoning that ties the game together; its frenetic tempo allows the rest of the game — quests, crafting, and the like — to proceed at a measured pace without feeling slow.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Reckoning, which was released in early 2012, as just another 3D action RPG. That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t have a truly excellent combat system, and it isn’t to say that the game isn’t combat-heavy. But whereas Reckoning could have been just another unintelligent brawler, it instead delivers a fully realized (and massive) fantasy world filled to the brim with interesting lore and imaginative stories.
In Other News
Shroud of the Avatar’s seventeenth pre-alpha test release (a.k.a. Release 17) is starting up this week; expect to see Starr Long posting instructions for it by the time this episode has gone live on the Codex, if not on Patreon. The standout feature of this Release will evidently be the addition of the first actual player-owned town, PaxLair, into the game.
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Gadflow, from the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning soundtrack (composed by Grant Kirkhope).
Reckoning Main Theme, from the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning soundtrack (composed by Grant Kirkhope).