RPG legend Ken Rolston is pretty excited about his upcoming game: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Naturally, with Skyrim still fresh in the memory (and still in our disc trays) and considering Rolston's history with the Elder Scrolls series (he led development for both Morrowind and Oblivion), comparisons between the two games are inevitable. Rolston for his part reckons there are a number of similarities between the two, but is adamant that the combat in Reckoning is "the best" that the genre has ever seen.
"The simple answer is that Reckoning has the best, coolest, fastest-paced, most tactile and silly-exciting fantasy combat of ANY video RPG," said Rolston, when asked how Reckoning differs from Skyrim. "The pace, fluid movement, tactical richness, and physical and visual theater of fantasy combat has always seemed the weakest feature of video RPGs, and Reckoning offers a fresh new answer in that department. There are a couple of other obvious contrasting features, like Reckoning’s more vivid, colorful art style, and easy-to-pick up, faster-paced gameplay in general."
But Roloston acknowledges that in terms of size and scope, and when it comes to customisation and tangential sidequesting, the two have much in common.
"Both games are Way-Too-Big, and have Way-Too-Much-to-Do, and they both seduce you into playing for hours and hours and hours. They both have whacking big epic storylines, and elaborate faction quest lines, and boatloads of quests, and lots of characters and books, and lots of crafting and alchemy, and lots of ways to customize your character."
38 Studios and Big Huge Games are clearly looking to create an action-RPG that manages to fulfil both sides of the equation to the greatest degree. Indeed, Rolston doesn't hold back when discussing the shortcomings of videogame RPGs in the past.
"Despite the fact that video RPGs have made such deep and passionate inroads into the mainstream market, I still feel they are slow-paced, abstract, and awkward," he continues. "Reckoning reflects my hunger for a faster pace of action and combat drama, and a desire for simpler, easier-to-use interfaces. Video RPGs are naturally the deepest,longest, and most complicated kinds of video game entertainment… that’s whatmakes them great. But making them just a tiny bit less clumsy in the interface, and just a big, fat, huge amount more physical and exciting in combat, gives them more fun-per-unit-time.
"Pen-and-paper narratives and settings continue to influence me in video game design, but systems? Not so much. Combat in tabletop RPGs is already, and always has been, slow-paced and awkward, mired in its wargame traditions. Dialog, improvisation, open-ended story-telling… that’s what tabletop RPGs are still best at… WAY better than video RPGs."
The Reckoning demo is already out on Xbox LIVE and PSN and the game arrives early next month. [GameFront]