Fleshing out Amalur

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While the dialog and books do a fantastic job of expanding on the general lore of Kingdoms of Amalur, it’s the side quests that flesh out each zone. Much like an MMO, the open world is split into zones with their own names and subsequent quest hubs. Completing a zone is satisfying, it plays on my enjoyment of checkbox gaming.

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Dalentarth

Dalentarth is the region the game starts out in. This is the Fae forest where the Fae mostly live secluded away in their city of Ysa away from mortals. However, I discovered upon visiting Ysa that mortals live there too and the Fae didn’t seem to happy about it. For the most part, the zones in this region had a series of side quest that had a story arch. For example, In Webwood the city has been under siege by spiders and all of the quest center around finding out why the spiders are attacking and stopping them. Glendara has the city of Didenhil which is experiencing a plauge brought on by the sudden appearance of bogarts in the area. The quests here center around getting medicine and finding out where the boggarts are coming from. These mini stories made going through the zones really enjoyable.

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The Wolds

The Plains of Erathell have not given me that same experience. The Wolds was the only zone that had any kind of theme around it. This is where refugees were escaping to from the war but the town didn’t want them so they camp out on the roads hoping for a better life once their allowed in. Tala-Rane was a zone filled with monsters and ruins of a city that used to be there but for the most part was a “kill 10 rats” filled zone which wasn’t that interesting. However, I enjoy the scenery in the Plains of Erathell zones more than Dalentarth.

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Ysa

 

I’ve visited tow major cities so far: Ysa and Rathir. These cities are whole zones themselves. Almost all of the quests take place within the cities themselves. Again this adds a lot of flavor to the cities via lore. Rathir has a whole homeless population living underneath it even though it’s a hub for wealth. There’s even a faction of people underneath who live by sorting through the garbage of the rich and selling it elsewhere. Ysa has the contentions of the Summer Fae living amongst the “lesser” mortal races.

Here’s to hoping that Detyre and the Klurikon are more like Dalentarth with their zone quests. I’m looking forward to Klurikon the most with zones like Cursewood and the Drowned Forest.

 

The Slow Road Through Amalur

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I’ve settled into a nice groove with Kingdoms of Amalur. Lately,  it’s been taking up most if not all of my solo gaming time. At 30 hours in, I find myself in Rathir, the city of the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves) which is where I thought I left off playing on PS3. I can’t be sure though, I know I left off in a big city but that might have been Ysa, the city of the Fae,  and that was way earlier in the game. Perhaps I didn’t actually play this as much as I thought… The main story has me boarding a ship to the next continent so I’m guessing I’m halfway through the game.

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I’d like to say it’s the riveting gameplay or the stellar story that’s kept me playing but that’s not the case. In fact, the combat I remember loving so much has turned out to be just so so. Especially now that I have two AoE attacks that will one-shot almost anything that’s not a large creature. The main story isn’t bad but it’s not all that exciting. What it boils down to is: I’m the chosen one who’s going to break the stalemate in a war that’s been going on for 10 years. Probably, by killing the leader of the Tuatha, Gadflow.

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AoE in action

No, what’s kept me going is the world-building going on in this game. In yet another deviation from how I usually play RPGs, I’m taking my time reading and listening to text that isn’t needed to progress. I’ve found this extremely rewarding thus far. Most NPC’s will have a few lines of dialog relating to the quest and then a list of topics that they’ll also talk about. These range from the zone/city your in, themselves, other NPCs, and events going on in the game world. At first glance, it seems like most of the NPCs will talk about the same topics but I’ve found that each NPC adds just a bit more information about any given topic. I’ve also been reading the books I’ve found on my adventures which do a great deal to flesh out little bits of the world and unlike Skyrim, most of them are interesting to read through. It’s actually kind of amazing how much time and effort was put into completely optional dialogue and text. Especially when you consider that everything is voiced too.

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Kobolds are basically very large rats

I mentioned that I was choosing which quests to do based on urgency. Right now the main quest has me meeting with 2 people who I might be able to help and turn the tide of the war. The way I see it, the war’s been on for 10 years they can wait a few more days to turn it around. So I’ve been doing side quests, a lot of side quests. As of right now, I’ve completed 76 quests. Most of these quests have been interesting and added to the world. I have run into a few quests that are of the “kill 10 rats” variety. For the most part, though they’ve been thoughtfully amazing. I just finished up a quest in Rathir where I helped a wealthy merchant’s son fake his own death by starting a duel with a war hero, putting a sedative on the war hero’s dueling sword, and then arranging for a ship to load him on and take him far away from the war. Unfortunately for him, his mother found out and paid me handsomely to ship him instead straight to Klurikon, the front lines of the war.

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Sir, do you know you’re bleeding all over me?

So I’ve been taking my time with the game. I’ve been completing zones even when they’re no longer a challenge, I’ve been going out of my way to find books I haven’t read yet, and I’ve been drilling down into these dialog trees. The fact that it’s all voiced makes it easier for me to choose those optional dialog trees. That being said, I haven’t gotten this much enjoyment out of an RPG in a long time. I’d be open to trying this method with another game in the future even if it’s all text.