Friday, August 9, 2019

More Of The Same: KoA

Somewhat to my surprise, Kingdoms of Amalur continues to take up most of my playtime. According to Steam I have now racked up sixteen hours and very little of that has been afk.

Questing remains interesting and involving, with the side quests offering a lot of background information while the main questline chugs on in a coherent and comprehensible fashion. Absolutely nothing about any of it is original but the quality is solid.

Combat, as predicted, is getting easier, not that it was ever anything even close to hard. I do sometimes die. Occasionally I mistime a potion and a crit sends me back to the last saved game, which is annoying, because it's always avoidable if I didn't try to leave it to the very last moment.

I'm slowly remembering the joys of manually saving progress. Frankly, I can't see the point of it even in a single-player game. KoA has autosaves but I have learned from experience that they're far too far apart to rely on. Why the game can't just autosave every few seconds defeats me. Just one of those things, I guess.

Levels seem to be coming faster now. I'm about half-way through Level 8, which averages out at two hours per. I think it was more like three hours at the start so maybe it keeps speeding up. The level cap is 40 , which seems a very long way off.

Wouldn't you like, just once, to visit a fantasy world where the Gypsy Caravan had never been invented?

Each level means points to spend on skills and abilities. Although you start with a class and there are a whole load of advanced classes to choose from, it seems as though you can mix and match whatever you like. I had no particular plan for my character but she seems to have drifted into the kind of warrior-mage I wouldn't have given the time of day when I was fourteen.

Not that I had any interest in rpgs when I was fourteen, so maybe I would have, at that. I doubt it, though. If I'd played rpgs at fourteen I'd have been more likely to choose a bard with a serious drug problem and a tendency to extemporize beat poetry at the drop of a very fancy hat.

Armor comes in three types, Warrior, Rogue and Mage, which naturally equates to Plate, Leather and Cloth although those terms aren't used. Anyone can wear anything, though, so it's a moot point. My character has veered from a neat set of leathers to a long robe to her current full metal jacket and pants. If there's any difference in survivability between them I can't say I've noticed. I face-tank everything and it all seems much of a muchness.

For some reason, pants seem to be as rare as chicken molars. At one point the only pair my character had hit zero durability when she was out in the forest and she had to run around fighting barghests in her skivvies unti she was lucky enough to find some plate leggings in a chest. I wouldn't have done that in an MMORPG, that's for sure, but in a single-player rpg, no-one can see your butt.

Home: the place that when you have to go there they have to let you in - and then not let you move anything.

 I have a house now, which is very welcome. There doesn't seem to be any way to decorate it but it has storage and a bed in which you can sleep to recover health and also avoid night-time. The world, like every bloody fantasy world, is too dark too much of the time. There's "realism" and then there's being able to see what you're looking at.

The house is upgradeable by talking to an NPC and paying some gold. Literally getting the builders in. I added a dining room, although since there seems to be no food or drink in the game I'm not sure what the point of that is meant to be. One of the DLC packs supposedly adds a huge amount of functionality and variety to housing. I might get that at some point.

I'm doing a lot of crafting. It's a very satisfying system in terms of results and the mechanics aren't bad, either. I have sufficient points in Blacksmithing now to allow me to salvage the two lowest qualities of armor and weapons, which helps enormously with inventory bloat. I just wish I could do it in the field without having to come back to a forge but instant travel makes that not too much of an issue.

Drops are excellent and extremely common. The entire countryside seems to be littered with chests and hidden stashes, the latter being extremely poorly concealed once you invest just a couple of points in Detect Hidden. Most of the drops and are clearly intended to be salvaged but just often enough something really nice appears.

Home-made is better.

My flaming sword was just beginning to show its age when I got a purple quality Frostblade. Not as flashy but very elegant, with a nice particle effect. Ettins that had been giving me a lot of trouble suddenly started to come apart at the seams.

I was imagining I'd be keeping that blade for a while but the very next time I went to the forge and started to experiment I made a green quality Fireblade that was a small upgrade. Crafted gear is really good.

All things considered, KoA has turned out to be a very good impulse purchase. I'm waiting for things to to start to slide southwards as a couple of commenters, including the estimable XyzzySqrl , have suggested they will.

So far, though, so good. Not sure anyone really cares at this stage but I'll keep updating on progress until I'm not making any.


  1. That game absolutely was not on my radar at all. I may give it a try once I get a gap in my play line up.

    1. Bear in mind I don't play single-player rpgs very often. I'm more than willing to believe that by those standards it's not that great. If you want an MMORPG you can play solo, though, it's spot on.

  2. This was a game I played 74 hours of (did every quest I think), thoroughly enjoyed, and then completely forgot about. Unfortunate that they couldn't do their MMO for this universe; it would probably have been pretty good.

    1. Yes, I think it's going to be very forgettable. It's the equivalent of a good, wormanlike, genre novel. You read it and enjoy it then a week later you can't remember anything about it.

  3. You've already played much longer than I have.
    (My review is at and you disagree with all of it, I believe. I particularly sputtered in bafflement when you claimed this had better writing than ESO. We come from different planets.)

    1. There are two factors in play here. I should probably do a full post quest-writing sometime. Firstly, I cannot stand "fantasy" prose. The kind of thing that fills hundreds and thousands of pages of brick-sized novels by best-selling fantasy authors. It's pap. Whenever quest text seems to veer towards that it makes me very cross. As a benchmark, I do not think Tolkein is a "good writer", for example, even though I appreciate both his importance and impact and his abilty to tell a story.

      I love fantasy, but I appreciate writers who either write fantasy as if it was mainstream or YA or crime or Science Fiction (Jim Butcher, David Eddings, Tim Powers, Tad Williams) or, my very favorite, writers with a playful, baroque, fin de siecle prose style (M John Harrison, Ysabeau Wilce).

      Writing in ESO, from memory, is very portentous. It has that sense of taking itself far too seriously that turns me right off. It's also dull. The prose does not sing or even strut, it just lies there, dead on the page. KoA quest text is much more colloquial. People talk as if they're having a conversation not reading a prepared statement. Concerns are local and immediate and the prose reflects that.

      The other factor is the font. Seriously, I cannot properly enjoy or appreciate any quest dialog if it's delivered in a hard-to-read font, particularly against a murky background. From memory, ESO has both an awkward font and a background that makes it hard to see. KoA uses a very unfussy font in white against a black background, which I find very comfortable.

      Anyway, as I said, I should do a whole post on this, Too much to say in a comment reply!

    2. And... now I've read your review, which I should have done first, obviously, I have to wonder if something's changed since you played. After 16 hours, longer than you played, I haven't outleveled any areas at all. Everything is still presenting as about the same threat level as my character. I also haven't encountered a single NPC who tries to lure me into DLC. Far from finding xp gain swift I have commented already on how slow I think it is. Two to three hours per level in the single-figures seems slow to me.

      The difference of opinion over the questing is a matter of taste, I think, but the other issues seem to be a difference of fact. Which is odd.

    3. I do feel like "speed of leveling" is an opinionated thing. "Two to three hours per level" feels ridiculously -fast- to me. This is a large single-player game, it's supposed to be drawn out at length, not handing you levels rapidly.

      As to the DLC fellows... do you own the DLC? There'll be (if I recall correctly, I MAY be misremembering) two dudes standing by the passage between every area in the game, ready to tell you to go to a specific place to start the DLC. Google suggests they may not appear until level 10.

      Steam has me playing only 9 hours, so yes, I was level 10 (at least) by then.

      As to the rest, I feel I understand a bit better. The BF adores Eddings but I feel he's been writing identical stories for the last 20 years to see if anyone will notice, I've never successfully finished a Jim Butcher book, and Tad Williams only really held my attention when I was 13. But I freely admit that my own sci-fi/fantasy purchasing habits are abysmal ("Does it have a dragon on the cover? Okay, bought.") so I can't comment on actual quality.


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