Crafting in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Recipe screen

I’ve really been impressed with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s crafting. The whole game has actually impressed me more than I thought it would, so good job, Big Huge Games, 38 Studios and Electronic Arts.

There’s a couple kinds of crafting common to RPGs; one is where there are fixed recipes and the same item is produced every time — EverQuest, World of Warcraft and Skyrim share this model. This turns crafting into a commodity. In MMOs that use this model, there’s no particular reason to go to any specific crafter to get something made. If they have the skill, they can give you the item, identical to that produced by anyone else.

RPGs like Star Wars Galaxies have a model where the general function of an item — a template — is provided, but the actual details are determined by the crafter and their skill. Reckoning follows this latter model.

Making a hood

Equipment in Reckoning is created via the Blacksmithing skill. Items can be made with from 2 to 5 components, depending on your skill. Each component adds another stat or effect to the item. In the screenshot above, I’m making a new hood for my rogue. I start out with the base component, a leather headdress. Components can be found as loot or by disabling traps (with high detect hidden skill), but are normally created by salvaging unwanted gear.

I toss almost everything I find into salvage, because I like having all my options available when I go to the forge.

At each step, I make decisions about the final product. Here I select a high armor class headdress over a lower armor class one. I will make some trash loot for selling with the trash components.

Comparing the finished product

The final crafting component is a gem, found as loot or created with sagecraft. I’m trying here to replace a Might-based helm (from a set) with a Finesse-based hood, so I can at some point switch from my Might/Finesse build to a Finesse/Sorcery build without losing all my gear. It was important to me to not lose the old helmet’s innate health regeneration, as your health doesn’t regen quickly on its own.

Luckily, I had stumbled onto the formula, through experimentation, for +1 health regeneration gems.

Name it!

If I didn’t like what I made, I could have backed out the entire process and lost nothing, or tried different components, but in this case it’s a clear upgrade and is a great alternative to the old helmet.

All that’s left is the naming. The hood joins the rest of my “Terrapin Hide” armor — almost everything I equip has been crafted. In a couple of levels I’ll unlock master crafted gear… and I fully expect that to bring me through the rest of the game.

No, you aren’t required to craft. Decent gear drops throughout the game. But if you want the best gear available at all times, you will need to come to the forge. It’s painless.

KoA:R Weapons and Armor bundle — is it worth it?

EA released a day 1 DLC (downloadable content) pack for their Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning — the Weapon and Armor Bundle. In it are unique weapon sets with cool looks and powerful effects. The video above from Gamer King Tarheel shows them off well.

So is this stuff going to change your life if you buy it? Put the game in easy mode?

Well, since you can already set the game to easy mode, you probably don’t need to spend $5.00 to trivialize the game. Which is good, because these sets are only appropriate for the level in which you get them. If you buy them at level 1, this will be fantastic level 1 gear for you, but you’ll pack it away in a few levels.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In this RPG like most others in the genre, the hunt for better and more impressive gear to take on more challenging opponents is one of the draws that keep players in the game. If the best armor in the game came in a box at level 1, I can’t believe many gamers would make it much past level 10. Because, why?

This DLC is armor that you are guaranteed to outgrow. It looks really cool, but you can’t slip cool looking armor over your functional gear in the way you can in some MMOs. If you are stuck in the game, and even on easy mode you just can’t make it through, and you have tried a few different destinies and none of them are getting you through the hump, and you feel a quick shot of great gear would do the trick, then you should definitely buy this.

Otherwise, it’s just something that will look good for some screenshots but will be soon put away. Gear is not hard to come by in KoA:R, and you can make very good stuff via blacksmithing as well.

KoA:R — What class are you supposed to be, anyway?

Your basic fighter/rogue

I really have come to appreciate Reckoning’s _adaptability_.

I started out as a pure fighter-type, all my points into Might. This gave me fantastic scores in blocking and swordfighting, eventually making me a master of the greatsword. This was all very cool stuff. The armor looked amazing. My ranged skills were sub-par, though, even though I gave up the chakrams for a bow. I really would rather play a stealthy type.

Plus, I got these really wicked unique daggers from a dungeon and I just wanted to play. So, I visited my local Fateweaver and told him to reset my points. It cost a bit over 2,000 gold to arrange, and I imagine that amount will increase each time I have it done.

I put all my points into Finesse, chose a full-on rogue destiny and… realized I was dressed in tatters. All my armor required Might to wear. I went to the forge and salvaged every bit of gear I had, but that didn’t give me enough components to make a full set of decent rogue armor.

This is where I loaded up my latest saved game and tried again…

Worth respeccing for!

I needed seven points of Might to wear all my current armor, so I dutifully put seven points in Might, for shield blocking, because that’s fun to do. The rest into daggers, faeblades and ranged prowess on the Finesse screen.

The hybrid might/finesse destinies seem very much designed for players who want to switch between a stand-up fight and a sneakier approach. I like that. If it doesn’t work out, I can switch again.

I just replaced the last bit of my Mass Effect 3 armor, the gloves, with a pair I crafted. Still would like some way of keeping the appearance of that armor with the stats of the stuff I’m now wearing.

KoAR: Fem-Shep goes Medieval

FemShep strikes a pose

Last summer, Electronic Arts held a contest to decide upon the iconic face for the lead character from Mass Effect 3. Though the lead character, Shepard, can be male or female at the player’s choice, Mass Effect and its sequel were marketed with a male Shepard. Fans had been yelling for a more prominent role for the female version, known as FemShep for short.

By playing through the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo, you unlock many items useful for low level adventurers — including FemShep’s famous armored spacesuit. Even though I haven’t actually _played_ any of the Mass Effect games, I wanted FemShep to leave the airlessness of space for the lushness of Amalur for awhile. And so FemShep was born.

I’ve only played for a couple of hours, so this can’t be a full review. The game seems very different from the demo, or perhaps that’s just because I’m not racing against the clock. I’ve already found myself pulled way, way beyond the newbie fields to where the fights become somewhat challenging, leaving loads of unfinished quests behind me. I’ve had to go back and work on those.

Based again on the demo, I turned aside from my usual style of a stealthy, rogue character and sunk most of my skill points — you get three each level — into the “Might” tree. One of my free gifts from the demo were a pair of chakrams, a mage weapon. I sunk a point in to the “Sorcery” tree to get a special chakram move, and now use that instead of a bow against monsters that are reluctant to close, like wolves. I’ve sunk several points into the “Finesse” tree. After another level, I’ll be able to choose the “Duelist” destiny, a hybrid fighter/thief that specializes in melee damage with high crits. I might visit a fateweaver at that time to go completely rogue, but then I wouldn’t be able to wear the cool Shep armor!

Well, I’ve started finding stuff just as good, and soon will start finding better armor. EA was never going to let new players have end-game armor from the start. I’d have liked some way to keep it as appearance armor, though.

In fact, I’d love to have some means of storing things I’m not using at the moment. If there’s a bank or a trunk or a box somewhere to store stuff, I haven’t found it.

The game is fun enough. You can get carried away exploring, and that is A Good Thing. It’s a pretty world, and you quickly accrue a lot of combat moves; your character will adapt to your playstyle, whatever it may be, and it’s easy to fix bad decisions — unlike Skyrim.

The quests so far have been unexciting. I started out letting the NPCs talk their story out, but then started skipping the dialog (I read way faster than they talk) and now just scoop up quests and do them according to the distance of the quest objectives on the map.

In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the combat is the draw. The quests just give reasons to fight.