Kingdoms_of_Amalur_Reckoning_coverIf you’ve been keeping up with the news this past week, you’ll know that we lost one of the greatest women’s wrestlers of all time along with one of the greatest musicians of all time. Before that however, former baseball player and would be video game mogul Curt Schilling got shitcanned from ESPN for being a hateful transphobe. This reminded me of when he was in charge of two game studios and a franchise, all of which ended up tanking. Pity too, because the game they released, Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning was an excellent action RPG, and it could have been the start of the next big franchise. Sadly it would end up being a costly flop for all parties involved.

KOA had a lot going for it. With a story penned by novelist R.A Salvatore (The Forgotten Realms Novels, Demon Wars) and art by Todd McFarlane, KOA had a lot behind it. The game was co-developed by Schilling’s 38 Studios and developer Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations) which they had acquired, and was originally intended to be an MMORPG. However, the team decided to retool the game into a single player title in order to introduce an eventual MMORPG game which would unfortunately never materialize.

In KOA, you take control of a player-created character of one of four races. You’re a random dead corpse, however, you’ve been successfully bought back to life thanks to the experiments of a scientist. You are left alone to discover your fate and find out about what’s been going on in the land. You pick one of three classes (based on the typical Warrior, Mage, and Rogue archetypes), complete quests, and upgrade your skills. The game’s combat is much better than Skyrim’s, and it’s fast paced and fluid. The game’s world is rich with history and lore, and the game is said to take over 200 hours to complete. DLC adds on even more content and playtime to the game’s already vast world.

While KOA didn’t reinvent the wheel, it was still an excellent RPG that could hold its own against the Dragon Ages and Skyrims. Sadly, the controversy surrounding the funding of 38 studios overshadows the game’s high points. There was a lot of noise over a sizable amount of content locked behind an online pass. Even more damaging, the game didn’t sell enough units to break even, and 38 studios was declared bankrupt with both its staff along with that of Big Huge Games being let go. You can read more about it here. Even with the controversy, KOA was a promising title, and it’s universe deserves to be explored in a sequel, which sadly, we may never see.