Platforms: PC | PSN | Xbox Live (reviewed)
Developer: Big Huge Games
Kingdom Of Amalur: Reckoning's first singleplayer DLC pack, The Legend Of Dead Kel, was a microcosm of the original in many ways. It's big, very big, but value and size came at the expense of a genuinely fresh and interesting world to explore. Recycled enemies were the status quo. The story felt inconsequential and pointless, never making the most of the protagonist's freedom from destiny. And apart from the horrendous Captain Brattigan (who made Fable's villagers look like Commander Shepard by comparison), the characters were bland to the point of narcolepsy. I can't even remember their clichéd personality hooks, let alone their names or what they look like.
But Teeth Of Naros is different. Though shorter, its campaign and setting proves to be genuinely exciting, and make you feel like part of something much greater than yourself.
I'd go as far as saying that Kingdom Of Amalur: Reckoning would have been vastly improved if Big Huge Games had approached their world-building with the same level of detail and imagination on show here.
Upon discovering the once-impassable Teeth Of Naros region, players encounter the enormous, looming Kollossae. This race of giants, raised from savagery by the Gods themselves, cling to life on an incomplete floating city; abandoned by their masters and suffering a crisis of faith. Zealotry and apathy vie for control over their domain, and as a fateless agent of change, you alone have the power to change their destiny. You'll feel empowered and important, a far cry from the errand boy that most of Reckoning's quests turn you into.
Teeth of Naros' main storyline only lasts three hours or so, but it's well constructed and full of intriguing, relateable characters and subtle nuances. A fetch quest, for example, acts as a clever method of explaining the backstory as your companion reveals juicy exposition along the way. Characters include a loyal soldier whose faith has been tested to breaking point, and a once-mighty king obsessed with the idea that his entire race has disappointed the Gods. Everyone has something interesting to say (even the lorestones deliver mournful, church-style litanies instead of bleating terrible poetry at you), and the new setting provides scope for some visually arresting set pieces. Once you've scrambled through the magically-floating foundations of a hovering city, the rest of Amalur seems (even more) bland in comparison. Even dungeons have their own distinct personality, showing off iconography, portals and design elements unique to the region.
New features include a host of new enemies, such as the ferocious corpse-eating Pterix birds, new trolls, a dangerous Sprite champion and the Kollossae themselves - some of whom can make for unpredictable combatants. Their use of throwing spears, freezing magic and bareknuckle brawling feels fresh and potent, and brilliantly, there's not a Boggart in sight.
To combat these foes, you'll be provided with a new form of magic unique to the region. Purple Primal Magic is dished out by staves and swords, dealing direct damage and making targets more vulnerable to regular elemental sorcery. Mages will be in their element, and it's another example of Big Huge Games delivering genuinely new content rather than cynically recycling the old.
And when you've finished the storyline (complete with an excellent boss battle), the deceptively small map area offers a wealth of new subquests and optional dungeons. A quick, curious foray into a crypt can result in half an hour of exploration, trap dodging and combat, followed by a reward of three unique weapons. A quick investigation becomes a thirst for revenge. By offering new content and interesting missions, Teeth Of Naros manages to appeal to game-complete players as well as lower-level characters, a key issue that The Legend Of Dead Kel failed to accomplish. Mind you, it's becoming increasingly clear that Reckoning is long overdue for a level cap increase.
Sadly, despite these extras, Teeth Of Naros is still a little light on content - but Big Huge Games have accomplished lots with a little. There's little in the way of drudge or grind, and what's there is focused and exciting, both from a narrative and visual standpoint, making it a worthy addition to any Amalur fan's DLC library.
- Exciting new setting, empowering and compelling storyline
- New enemies and primal magic
- Excellent scripting, genuinely interesting characters
- Still a bit short
- KoA: Reckoning desperately needs a level cap increase
The Short Version: It's great to see Big Huge Games focusing on the quality of their storytelling, narrative and gameplay experience rather than concentrating on raw content. Though Teeth Of Naros' campaign may be over quickly, its value cannot be denied. With luck, future DLC packs will continue to innovate and provide new, fresh and relevant experiences for players to engage with.