Much like the original Kingdoms of Amalur itself, Fatesworn's production is more interesting to talk about than the actual content itself. THQ Nordic and Kaiko have done something not many video game developers do in this day and age: actively bring back a franchise non-starter. With the exception of returning composer Grant Kirkhope, the development team is made up of new talent who had no hand in the original material. Not to mention it actively tries to be a proper finale and epilogue for the original game now that its ambitions of spinning off into an MMO are truly dead.
Yet, when it comes to discussing what actually happens in Fatesworn itself, a lot of its ambition feels held back by the core game's outdated design philosophy.
The plot of Fatesworn goes something like this. After the events of the main game where your character, The Fateless One, came back to life and began to fundamentally mess with the very fabric of destiny itself through their actions, some other terrible force has begun to emerge. Basically, because of your actions throughout the main game and the two other DLCs, a dark god called Telogrus came forth from the grand cosmic chaos left behind in your wake. After possessing a human host, Telogrus has begun raising an army and a cult to further rebel against the safe status quo by the forces of fate and hopes to plunge Amalur into cosmic anarchy. Since your character is basically the only one in the world that can match Telogrus' power, your job is to stop them.
Overall, this is not a bad way to up the stakes for new Kingdoms of Amalur content. The concept of fate and free will explored through the lens of a fantasy RPG video game world is one of the biggest cases of squandered potential the main game had. While the ideas were introduced, they were mostly a vehicle for a standard RPG protagonist power fantasy. In Fatesworn, these ideas are explored a bit further. Some of it is trite metatextual jabs – “hey, don't you get tired of aimlessly wandering around solving everyone's problems for shiny new weapons, hero” – others do show some nuance when it comes to predetermination and whether or not radical freedom is inherently a good thing.
In fact, Telogrus' whole threat to the world hits with more bite in 2021 than it would have in 2012. While I don't want to put words in the narrative designer's mouths, this is still a plot where the leader of a radical organization, one that he gathered together through pure force of personality, positions himself as a savior and promises all who follow him the ability to ignore all rules and regulations that inconvenience them, knowing full well that such a movement will doom the world. It's not subtle at all, and it is effective.
But how this story resolves in gameplay amounts to more of the same. You will still be running back and forth between quest givers and dealing with the same antiquated FedEx RPG quest structure. Go here, kill X enemies, rescue person Y, collect Z amount of random stuff, return for reward, repeat. All of which is made more tedious by lots of busy leg work. As great as fast travel is, there are still no mounts in this game, and it is frustrating.
In fairness, Kaiko have done a great job keeping the new land of Mithros consistent aesthetically with Todd McFarlene's original aesthetic. The level cap has increased to 50, which is always a plus in RPGs of this kind. Plus, while the main adventure can be cleared in about seven hours, there is plenty of optional side missions that will help balloon that up to about fifteen hours.
Finally, there are new design elements that attempt to address some of Kingdoms of Amalur's more underwhelming systems. The biggest one is the introduction of Chaos weapons. As part of Telogrus' conquest, multiple chaos portals have opened up spawning new enemies which can only hurt by these weapons. Worse still, these weapons have to be crafted. Considering how underwhelming and token the weapon crafting system was before, it's great to see it be put center stage in Fatesworn. My only complaint is that these new portals are tied to a pretty superfluous new skill called Chaos Sight. Basically it lets you see where new portals pop up on the map. It's mostly forgettable.
But what really undermines Fatesworn as an experience is the sense that corners were cut. This is felt in everything from cutscenes to various dungeons and setpieces. Padding pops up everywhere like inane key hunting, running between multiple NPCs, and gauntlets full of death traps. This is even felt in small ways during certain sidequests. For example, there's a quest early on where you help someone put a band together with the final part being you attending their performance. I sit down at the end of the questline only for no sound to come out of any of the instruments. I honestly couldn't tell if it was an audio glitch or if there just wasn't any music. In fact, despite Kirkhope's returning credits, a lot of cutscenes in Fatesworn play out in stark silence.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning Fatesworrn Review | Final Thoughts
If you wanted more Kingdoms of Amalur content, then Fatesworn is just that. There are some merits to the story and its characters. The combat is still greatly entertaining. But the age is really starting to show in the foundation.
TechRaptor's Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning Fatesworrn review was conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
- Interesting Villain and Ongoing Plot
- Creative Chaos Weapon Crafting System
- Underwhelming Quest and Dungeon Design
- Hit and Miss Audio and Dialogue Delivery