The Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo And Stupid Gameplay Mechanics

Sonic Doctor

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Jan 9, 2010
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Okay, I just got done playing the demo for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Now the only reason I did it was to get the free special extra items for Mass Effect 3, but I did believe the game looked and sounded cool, and in a lot of ways it is, but after an hour of playing the demo, I finally saw some major flaws in the game, at least ones I consider huge blemish marks gameplay wise.

Bear with me, I'm going to describe what the game is like and the awesome, good, and bad parts of the game, but also I have discussion style question for the end.

The game a very strange creature, in that it has aspects from several games. Most come together well, but a couple are very very out of place, and really just don't belong in games of today.

The games feels like a make up of Dragon Age 2(for me that is a good thing), the first Mass Effect, the Fable series, World of Warcraft, and Oblivion(this one is the glaring problem).

The first reason that the game is like DA2 and ME is that the dialogue is done similar to the dialogue wheel, though with a few differences like story questions are lumped at the end of the conversation in a box so that the player can hear ever detail the person has to say on just about everything major and some minor. Now I love the dialogue wheel style, though this one is done strangely in that if you pick the options in the wrong order, you can miss some of the main dialogue, at least it seems that way.

Certain sections of combat feel similar to both Fable and Dragon Age 2. It is fast and for the most part fluid. Yes it is button mash but it is feel good button mash. The also added a combat/time slow down mechanic that I feel is unique in one way.

This mechanic is can be used when the a player fills up the fate bar. The bar fills up by landing several successful attacks on the enemy; the longer the attack chain without getting hit yourself, the faster the meter fills up. Once the meter is full, the player holds down both trigger buttons to activate the fate mode, knocking back any nearby enemies. In the mode the player and his weapons glow purplish white and time is slowed so the player can attack faster and dodge easier. The thing I find unique about it is that after you bring down and enemy to pretty much no health, the A button appears over them to tell the player he can use the main part of the power, which is a slow motion finishing move that is turned into a quick time event. In the event a second button will appear and the player has the press that button as many times and as fast as possible, filling up a percentage meter, which shows the player how much extra exp the player will get from the finishing move. Now, if the player is fast enough and gets the meter to 100%, the finishing move will have a special and awesome critical effect. A 100% critical finish move, will not just net 100% extra exp and kill the enemy, it will also kill every enemy in the area that is the same as the killed enemy. Kill a bandit archer with a fate 100% crit move, all the bandit archers in the area die as well, giving you the exp for those as well.

I found that ability quite fun, though I do get extra mad if I some how don't make 100% in time.

The game is also like Mass Effect 1 in that the skill section when leveling is made up of lines of little squares. A point can be used on each square, and some squares are specially marked in that when you get to that point in the skill line and purchase that square, a boost in that skill will be unlocked. Like with the alchemy skill, at one specially marked point in the basic level, it says that failed potions will still form a potion, but it will be unstable. The skill lines are broken up into basic, adept, and master, five squares in each section.

Now in a couple respects the game is like WoW. The art design has sort of a wow feel, the game is insanely colorful. Also in that design come the race of Gnomes in the game. The faces on some of them look quite like WoW Gnome faces, though these Gnomes look to be about twice the height of WoW Gnomes, about the height of a WoW dwarf. Now the other respect that it looks like WoW is in that the ability trees look like WoW's three section class ability trees. There is a warrior, rogue, and mage section, and the trees in each section are made up of boxes with different pictures that are connected to straight lines to other boxes. Some ability boxes can have multiple points put into them to make that ability much stronger, like the beginning dagger box will boost my dagger stats and use with each point added, same goes for the shock ability I first got to use as part of the mage section. The only slight difference from WoW is that the tree goes from bottom to top, rather than top to bottom.

Now for the most part, everything I mentioned above works well together.
Now for the stupid gameplay mechanics.

The first one is a blatant copy of Fable. When you have your weapons out in front of the non-enemy NPCs, a little skull will appear on the up button on the D-pad. It has a red circle and slash through it. If you press and hold it for a second and then let up, it turns off the function that prevents the player form killing the friendly NPCs. The reason I think this mechanic is stupid is that there is no reason for it other than if the player is feeling murderous and just wants to kill all friendly NPCs. Though the problem with this is that every NPC, accept main story NPCs, can be killed, even the quest givers. So if you go on a homicidal rampage and decide to kill the equivalent of the game's town sheriff that just gave you a quest, you will lose that quest and never be able to complete it. That problem gets worse coming up.

Now for a big nail in this game's coffin. It is blatantly obvious to see as we have been told, that the lead designer from Oblivion, Ken Rolston, was a part of the development of this game. First off, when I was a half hour into the game, I finally noticed that there was a number/number next to my weapons and armor. The blasted game has item wear. Most light items have a 20/20, and the heavy items have a 30/30. The game demo lasted about two hours and in that time most of my items had worn down at least by 2 to 3 points. As far as I'm concerned there is no need for this mechanic in gaming, it is my top list of stupid mechanics. While in combat, I should only be worried about beating the enemy and having fun doing it, not worrying if my staff, daggers and armor will outlast my battle with the latest big enemy. Or that when I find that my weapon needs repairing badly and I don't have any more repair items and I am possibly a half our of gameplay away form getting to a place that sells repair items.

The another Oblivion blunder mechanic added is that of the alchemy agent acquiring system. So, while play the game, I see a glowing flower(first time I seen one). Though since it is glowing I know I can pick up an item from it. So, I walked over and pressed the pick up button. It pops up that I acquired nothing useful, meaning I picked at an alchemy item staring me right in the face and it says there is apparently nothing there. When this happened the game's little help box popped up and said, "Picking alchemy items isn't always success full, sometimes you won't get the item." And in all seriousness through my whole 2 hour play time, I came across at least 50 alchemy items, only about 15 of my pick up attempts were successful. This is a moronic mechanic and makes the game less enjoyable. I come across and item and say, neat that is the ingredient I've been looking for; I walk up to it and pick it and it says there is none there, then I "RAGE!!!". Why of why instead of putting over 50 pick-able items in one small area and only around 20% yielding and item, why not just put 10 or 15 pick-able items in the area, and just let the player pick them up like he should be able to. Oh, and items don't disappear when you pick them, they stupidly shrink back in on themselves like a turtle. This tells me that the items probably respawn in time, but still the whole thing is just messed up and not enjoyable. It would be like, if in real life, I go outside and pick a dandelion and then it just vanishes from my hand, or if I got to pick it and on it's own, it shrivels and retreats into the ground away from my grasp. Just plain stupid, not fun, and not needed.

The last Oblivion blunder mechanic is the guards and as well as the resisting of arrest from said guards. Now when I got to the first town in the game, I get a quest from the sheriff and then after that, I walk into the alchemy shop. I talk to the shop keeper and then proceed to explore the shop. I noticed that there was a guard walking around the shop(a very Oblivion-esque looking guard in the armor styling/look. I see him go down to the basement of the shop, and I follow him to explore the store. Downstairs, is and alchemy lab room with all kinds of books and potion making supplies and an alchemy creation table. In the other room, is another room with a fire place and dining and bed setup. In the alchemy lab area though, I see a big chest; I walk up to it and see that it says pick lock and that it counts as stealing. First I see that the guard is still in the room, so I wait for him to enter and go far into the bedroom area. The chest in the room I was in is out of his line of sight, and he had his back turned to me. Just to make sure I crouched into stealth mode and the symbol above his head showed that he didn't know I was there in the other room.

So, I proceed to pick the lock and I successfully do it and take the contents, but as soon as I exit the item menu after taking everything. Guard turns and says, "Hey!" I see that he some how knows and is headed into the room, so I hide out of his sight for when he entered. He came in and looked at the chest and said, "Hey! Who did this!" I proceed to successfully sneak into the bedroom area. I waited there for about two minutes to see what the guard would do. He just paced back and forth a few steps, the symbol above his head still showed he didn't know I was around. So I thought I was in the clear. I stood up and nonchalantly walked out of the bedroom like I had always been in there and that I knew nothing about said opened chest. But, before I could make it to the steps back up to the main shop, the guard turned to me and the screen changed to the conversation mode and the guard said, "Hey you did this and broke the law, come with me!" Then it gave me the options of go to jail, bribe(13%), and resist arrest. So I'm pretty pissed since this tells me that the game has those stupid psychic guards that always know you did the crime, even if there are no witnesses.(Insert, "Stop right there criminal scum" here)

So, that was the last stupid like Oblivion straw, so I decided to resist arrest. I killed the guard then, then two more psychic guards appear, and I kill them, and more appear. Now the only way to stop the guards from appearing is to crouch and hid just before they appear, that way they can't see you, then if you can stealthily assassinate both guards, they stop appearing. Oh, but the fun doesn't stop there. I go back upstairs and exit the shop, and see a whole host of read dots on my mini-map. I found out that apparently the whole town is psychic, knowing what I did. So everybody and their mothers, and the quest givers as well, descended upon me as the worst angry mob I had ever seen. Plus, as I a said with the Fable-like part of the game, you can kill quest givers. So in my rush to escape the town, I apparently killed that sheriff(or warden as he called himself) and it said I failed his quest. Now, the demo didn't have a save function, so the resist attempt and killing of quest givers was a terminate thing, though I'm quite sure there will be some sort of save function in the final product. But, as you can see the whole situation is just plain stupid. In no game should the NPCs have such open knowledge about what happens in the game. Lastly another problem that stems from that is that the regular enemies can be just as psychic.

I was out in the wooded fields after I escaped the town, and I cam across a bandit. He didn't see me, so I went into stealth mode and assassinated him. The problem I found is that, a group of three bandits that was at least the equivalent of 250 or more feet away with their backs turned to me, with no way they could know what I did, perked up and turn and started after me, with the psychic knowledge that I killed their buddy.

With that, something tells me that Mr.Rolston wasn't with or working with Bethesda when they made Skyrim, because none of those three problems, item wear, alchemy item item picking failures, and psychic NPCs(not psychic for the most part) are not in Skyrim, and Skyrim is better for it. Since the game is so close to launch these things can't be stopped, but if Mr.Rolston gets a hold of and does this again to another game, we need to sit him down and have a stern talking to.

This post is pretty much a review of the demo, but, I decided to put it in "gaming discussion", because my real reason for making this thread was to start a discussion on what you think of such game mechanic problems.

So, what do you think of such game mechanics as I mentioned in the "Cons" section, and what are mechanics that you can't stand and think shouldn't be around, at least from the standpoint of detracting from the fun of the game?

(Now be nice if there are any typos, this took some time. I was just so pissed after I finished the demo, since the first part of the game and those "Pros" really hooked me in wanting to get the game, but then those Cons are a huge problem for me, as they jumped out and beat me over the head.)
 

Terramax

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Some of the 'cons' you list are more personal preferences, than flaws. For instance, I don't mind degrading items, as long it isn't excessive. For some, it gives us more to think about than just whacking anything over the head repeatedly.

You say there's no need for mechanics like this, but hey, 99% of the time there's no need for fetch quests in games like Elder Scrolls, and pretty much any other action adventure, other than to drag things out. But, hey, some people like that sort of thing.
 

TD_Knight

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Yeah, I too fell afoul of the psychic guards.

It seems that going to jail only incurs a minor XP loss, though there may be bigger penalties depending on the severity of the crime. Even so, the items you steal don't seem to be taken away if you go to jail, and I don't think I lost any gold, so unless there are time sensitive quests in the game it seems like going to jail is a slap on the wrist.

And it's certainly better than being forced to murder everyone in town.

It's also pretty cool that you need to find a fence to sell your stolen goods too, thought that was a neat touch.

As for the whole reagent/herb gathering thing, it seems that if you level up your alchemy you have a better chance of getting something useful. In any case, there seem to be meaningful trade offs between the various secondary skills in the thing, and they all seem useful in some way.
 

Berenzen

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I played it on the PC and I quite enjoyed it. The combat was smooth, and if you were smart enough with your dodges, you could avoid all possible damage. I quite enjoyed that, I fought the pair of those elite prison guards, and only managed to die once.

As for the item wear, I didn't find it too much of a problem, it wasn't extremely intrusive, I think I only needed to do it once in the demo on my gear. And it wasn't too expensive either, particularly considering that you could get a chunk of money pretty easily.

I'm not going to comment on the story, you're not really given too much info, just that a bunch of Evil Elves want to kill you because you infringe on their immortality.

I have a few gripes, my first was the bow, because it auto-locked on whatever was closest. But then I got some Chakras, so it didn't matter that much. My other big gripe is the fact that the magic weapons are ridiculously broken, with the said Chakras, nothing could get close to me between my dodging, and blowing them up with the thunderbolt.

As for the OP's gripe with the psychic guards, yeah I can see it, but 'psychic townsfolk' are more or less justified, you're not exactly silent when you're massacring the guards, I would think that it would draw attention. With the alchemy stuff, if you have 1 or 2 points invested in alchemy, you have close to a 100% chance to pick an item, and you really need that anyways in order to make the various potions.

I don't have a console, so I can't make any calls on it, but the controls are really well designed for the PC. I'll probably end up purchasing the game in February, it's piqued my interest enough to buy it.
 

Sonic Doctor

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Jan 9, 2010
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LastGreatBlasphemer said:
I can tell from the gameplay trailers that there are more than just three animations with each weapon.

I do feel you on the bow.

On the co-op, demos usually don't have or show such things even if it will be in the game.

On the setting, I don't know, after I got out of the cave/tower/dungeon thing and saw the outside world, I thought it looked kind of nice. I felt that there were some original pieces, like the bizarre looking flowers and stuff like that. I mean, did you even see the deer-like things and the buffalo/cow who knows what it was. I thought they looked quite original, weird, but original. Though I thought they looked too weird and decided to put them out of their misery.

I do like the idea of the fate/seer guys, because I like the idea of in the middle of the game if I don't like how my character is turning out, I can change him without actually starting a new character.

Though in the end, I had to play to the end where the time ran out, because I wouldn't have got the special extra weapon for Mass Effect 3 when it comes out. You only get the weapon if you play to the end of the demo.

TD_Knight said:
Nice to know the penalty isn't that bad. I just didn't have the patience to not explode. I gave into my hate of the problem and left nobody in the town alive, accept that clergy man at the top of the steps near the graveyard. Because for some reason every time I killed him, he came back to life within about 20 or 30 seconds. I don't know maybe he was like one of those immortals, or maybe he was a main character in some way.

On the gathering, there in lies my beef with the matter. Yes if I start leveling up the alchemy it will give me bonuses that make getting items from picking more successful, but think about that seriously. Do you want those bonuses that only are for determining picking up of items, something of which that in reality with something like a flower, should always be successful, or do you want them to scrap that and put in place more incentives that will make your potions more powerful, give you better effects, and give more money when sold? I for one would rather have the second one.

To the designers: When I pick flower, I better damn well get a flower. Because it just isn't right that an incredibly bad-ass mage that is destroying enemies with great magic powers, can't just grab a flower.

Terramax said:
Considering hack and slash is what the combat for the most part is based around, degrading weapons and armor is pointless. Because one should be focused on the combat and getting the chains for more damage, instead of worrying if the equipment will last. And then when, not if, an item totally degrades(hopefully it can still be repaired) while in combat and the player has to pause the game to go into the inventory to either pull out another weapon, unrealistically repair a weapon in the middle of combat. It would ruin the flow and concentration in combat.

The only time for most outside thinking in hack and slashers is for outside of combat where other decisions should be made like what to equip and use later, and how to apply level up skills and abilities. I don't know about you but with leveling hack and slashers, if I level up, I never pause the game to do the level up choices, I always finish at least the battle I'm in before I do that, that way the flow of the game is preserved.
 

Sonic Doctor

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Jan 9, 2010
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Berenzen said:
I don't have a console, so I can't make any calls on it, but the controls are really well designed for the PC. I'll probably end up purchasing the game in February, it's piqued my interest enough to buy it.
Oh, the controls are just fine on the console, well the bow is still crap. Well I didn't even get to find or use chakras, because before I could, I was already in invested in the "big town rumble" kill everybody or got home.

The item wear may not be all that bad, but really I see no point in having it at all, it just a stall that messes with flow of the game and time spent in it. Time that could be well spent actually doing things in the game that really matter.

But as you said, there isn't much to the story, that is why I didn't mention it. That is something that truly can never be judged by a demo.

Though as I said just recently in a response here, why even have the picking of items determined by alchemy level at all. A flower is a flower, just pick it. Those one or two points used for the picking incentive could be used to ad boosts to other things in the alchemy skill.

I may still pick it up, considering part of my gripes can be dealt with when the game has a save and reload function, and since for me the rest of what I experienced in leveling and combat and look of the game overall may just overshadow the problems enough, but I had to mention the things I considered problems, because I find such things uncreated, and slow things down in the game.
 

Aris Khandr

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Sonic Doctor said:
To the designers: When I pick flower, I better damn well get a flower. Because it just isn't right that an incredibly bad-ass mage that is destroying enemies with great magic powers, can't just grab a flower.
Oh, sure, you can grab a flower. But magic in most systems is far more specific than "bring me a flower". You need the pistil intact, the stamen unbent, the petals preserved just so. Failing isn't "you didn't get the flower". It means that the flower you picked was useless in the magical process, because you are an uneducated lummox, ham-handedly pawing at the bloom like a 6th grader getting to second base for the first time. Professor Snape would assign you a two foot report on the proper way to collect ingredients, and likely offer a disparaging remark about your prior education as well. Amalur just tells you you failed.
 

Sonic Doctor

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Aris Khandr said:
Professor Snape would assign you a two foot report on the proper way to collect ingredients, and likely offer a disparaging remark about your prior education as well. Amalur just tells you you failed.
No! Not that! Oh, and I was so looking forward to getting 10 points for Gryffindor. :(

OT: I guess I can see where you are coming from. I never really think of such things that way, because things like that aren't what matters to me when playing a game.
 

Wolfram23

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I agree to a point. I wrote my own review of it, complete with lots of pictures:
http://wolframpc.blogspot.com/2012/01/kingdoms-of-amalur-reckoning-demo.html

The gist of it, though, is that it felt pretty generic and disappointing.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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I enjoyed the demo. I hadn't heard of this game 3 days ago, now after downloading the demo, it's a day one purchase for me.

Sure there are faults, but I think the pros far outweigh the cons.
 

Omnific One

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I really didn't like the demo. Felt like an MMO, which isn't surprising, considering that's what it was originally slated to be.

Also, while all the big names help it, the fact that stuff they've done before bleeds into this so much, yet is still mediocre, is going to be the death of this. After a while, I just stopped in the middle of a dungeon and let the timer run out to get the items.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Eh, I actually thought it was really good. The problem I had with it isn't a problem with the game itself, but the fact that I'm going through fantasy fatigue. I've had enough of spells, swords, elves, gnomes, trolls, horrible accents, and all the other crap that seems to be "standard" for the fantasy setting. Though I think the fact that the "fantasy" setting has "standards" may be a bit of the problem.

Another thing I'm wondering is why it's on Steam, since EA is publishing. Thought they were all pissy with Valve.

Or is EA not publishing? If that's the case, why am I promted to sign into an EA account to play?
 

saintchristopher

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The entire thing seems like a conglomeration of Dragon Age-style presentation & NPC interaction and Fable-esque aesthetics & combat. The demo was compelling enough to keep me playing for a while, though I don't think the game is worth throwing down $65. Then again like, no game is actually worth that much money.
 

ZeroMachine

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I got the PC version of the demo. Did anyone else have to deal with DISGUSTING loading times? My computer runs the game at 60fps, and yet I had to wait a good two minutes for the character creation screen to load.

Other than that, I think the story/intro is shit, and the combat is solid (VERY solid, pretty fun actually) but it feels like they ripped off of the Darksiders style of combat but they forgot to add a jump. Art style is fine, but the texture resolution is ATROCIOUS. The art style covers it up mostly, but it's still pretty bad for a game this day and age that got such massive hype. I actually think Torchlight looks better, save for the combat animations. The ones in Amalur were fantastic, IMO. I especially liked fighting with that fire staff.
 

seraphy

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Irridium said:
Eh, I actually thought it was really good. The problem I had with it isn't a problem with the game itself, but the fact that I'm going through fantasy fatigue. I've had enough of spells, swords, elves, gnomes, trolls, horrible accents, and all the other crap that seems to be "standard" for the fantasy setting. Though I think the fact that the "fantasy" setting has "standards" may be a bit of the problem.

Another thing I'm wondering is why it's on Steam, since EA is publishing. Thought they were all pissy with Valve.

Or is EA not publishing? If that's the case, why am I promted to sign into an EA account to play?
EA is only publisher in this game, they don't own 38 studios like they own bioware. I imagine 38 studios aren't retarded enough to ditch steam simply because ea wants to. You can also opt-out from signing to ea account, you don't get those bonus items in that case. But who really cares?

I liked everything that op descriped as cons (expect psychic guards perhaps), it seemed fine game to me. Skyrim would have in my opinion been better game if it had included similar mechanics.
 

TD_Knight

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Sonic Doctor said:
On the gathering, there in lies my beef with the matter. Yes if I start leveling up the alchemy it will give me bonuses that make getting items from picking more successful, but think about that seriously. Do you want those bonuses that only are for determining picking up of items, something of which that in reality with something like a flower, should always be successful, or do you want them to scrap that and put in place more incentives that will make your potions more powerful, give you better effects, and give more money when sold? I for one would rather have the second one.
I believe the Mercantile skill is the one that allows you to buy/sell goods for less/more gold. It also allows you to sell stolen goods to any merchant rather than just fences at higher levels, which is quite handy I guess, unless fences are rather commonplace.

As for the Alchemy skill, whilst leveling that up does increase your chances to get a reagent, it also allows you to make more powerful potions when you're at the lab. I believe you can only mix two reagents together at novice level, three at intermediate and four at master. Moreover, at max level you unlock all potion recipes even if you haven't discovered them all via crafting. Also, leveling up Alchemy reduces your chances of making an Unstable potion, so I suppose if you're a novice alchemist and come into some rare reagents, you won't be too likely to make something useful out of them.


Sonic Doctor said:
Considering hack and slash is what the combat for the most part is based around, degrading weapons and armor is pointless. Because one should be focused on the combat and getting the chains for more damage, instead of worrying if the equipment will last. And then when, not if, an item totally degrades(hopefully it can still be repaired) while in combat and the player has to pause the game to go into the inventory to either pull out another weapon, unrealistically repair a weapon in the middle of combat. It would ruin the flow and concentration in combat.
I believe you can buy/find repair kits in the world, which should allow in the field weapons/armour repair (haven't actually needed to use one though tbh). It seems to me that weapon degradation might only be a problem if you're going to do an hour or two of serious grinding whilst being away from a town. In any case, I'm thinking that higher level gear will probably have higher durability than the stuff we get in the demo, or there'll be so much shiny loot thrown at us that we'll be constantly replacing gear rather than repairing it most of the time.

Wolfram01 said:
The gist of it, though, is that it felt pretty generic and disappointing.
I suppose whilst it seems a lot like your typical, high-fantasy, swords and sorcery RPG (with a healthy smattering of a WoW-esque aesthetic)... I just love exploring. And even in the demo there seemed to be quite a few side areas and little secrets peppered around, and that's without even investing in the Detect Hidden skill.

Though, to be fair, I've never played Fable, so this game might seem a bit too familiar to those who have.
 

lotrfanatic1

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you said this game was like a small rip off from fable ... when i first played the demo my first thoughts were ... this is the sequel of how fable should have been ... fable 1 was good, fable 2 & 3 were pretty bad & didn't fit into the feel of the first game, but this one does, so im considering this the "how fable 2 should have been"