All I wanted Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Fatesworn to be was more Amalur. Give me an interesting world filled with interesting people, fun quests, and overpowered weaponry. Fill in more of the mystery of this decade-old world, and show me that this franchise might have a pulse after all, which considering the fate of the original game was not a sure bet. For the first half of the chapter I got my wish! "This is super cool," I'm thinking to myself, "I can't wait to see how this plays out!"
And then the %&$ing Chaos Portals showed up.
Let's backtrack for a second: Fatesworn is a new chapter for the resurgent Kingdom of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, the game that brought Amalur and its world back to the forefront after a tumultuous past caused an uncertain future. The original game was fully intact in Re-Reckoning, downloadable content included, and considering how much I personally loved the original game the fresh experience of Fatesworn felt right up my alley.
The core of the game is exactly what I wanted: more Amalur. The world of Mithros is surprisingly large and packed with things to do. I suppose raising the level cap from 40 to 50 would necessitate a heaping helping of content, but dang if there's not a ton to do here. There are side quests and tasks to be found around every corner it seems, and plenty of monsters to take on while on this 8 to 10-hour journey.
The main storyline of Fatesworn made a perfect extension of the original game's lore too: the player character's meddling with the concept of "fate" in the original game has some lasting effects, which in this case means unleashing the God of Chaos Telogrus on the world of Mithros to possess a villager and cause, uh, chaos. It's then my job to clean up this mess, deal with the fanatical Preordained that worship Telogrus, and send him back where he came from. So far, so Amalur.
Venturing through the world feels like getting back on a bicycle from the jump, and that's a beautiful thing. The combat and exploration of Amalur were always its strongest suits in my opinion, so not fixing what isn't broken makes perfect sense to me. Where problems start to arise, unfortunately, is the "Chaos" that the game sows throughout this adventure.
Chaos creatures feature heavily in Fatesworn, familiar foes now enhanced with the power of Chaos that only certain weapons can dispel. I naturally find the items I need to create these weapons, thankfully, so getting up to speed and taking out some Chaos Boggarts and Chaos Spiders doesn't take very long. Some of the Chaos enemies, like the Niskaru that pop up throughout the adventure, are the WORST and make me want to throw a controller, but eventually they fall and I can move on.
Here is where I refer back to the aforementioned "%&$ing Chaos Portals." About two-thirds of the way through Fatesworn I am tasked with collecting a special armor that will aid me in the fight against Telogrus. The armor is found inside "Chaos Portals," or mini-dungeon sections of the Chaos Realm I can visit and explore. In order to open a Chaos Portal, I have to close multiple Chaos Rifts around the portal, with a different number of Rifts each time.
So let's get this straight, in order to collect the armor I have to:
- Travel to the designated Chaos Portal
- Defeat all of the Chaos enemies defending the Chaos Rifts and close them, then
- Enter the Chaos Portal's mini dungeon, find the tree-like entity at the end of the dungeon, and kill it in order to gain an armor set.
Oh, and I have to do this five times, because there are five pieces of the armor. It is the definition of bloat, and it absolutely stinks.
The artificial extension of the game thanks to these portals kills a lot of the chapter's momentum. Putting the entire armor in one of these portals would have been enough, but spreading it out into five just feels like extending the play time for the sake of extending play time. It doesn't help that the Chaos Portal dungeons are an absolute slog, most of them taking about 20 minutes longer than they need to and all of them filled with Chaos enemies that require the special equipment to defeat. Lord help you if you're out of Repair Kits and see the "weapon broken" prompt.
The best part is, these portals then opened up all across the original game's map! As if the five I was required to beat weren't enough of a bore, I had the option of pursuing, no joke, TWENTY more of them! I ended up having to tackle a few because I needed the boosts each closed Chaos Portal gave me in order to defeat Telogrus at the end, but they were just more of the same.
Back to the main portals: once I have the armor I can go straight to the final boss, and after defeating him the scenes that play out offer a very clear view of where the Amalur franchise is heading. There are some lingering questions--which of course there are, there'd better be if you want your fanbase to return, but the ending did leave me satisfied and excited for the future.
It is hard to articulate just how detrimental the Chaos Portal section of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning - Fatesworn is to the rest of the new content. Until those portals opened this felt like a story worthy of Amalur, with a few twists and turns and Agarth acting a fool (as is tradition). Then the brakes were pumped, and I was buried in purple Chaos energy for far, far too long in the main arc. If there's one lesson I hope any prospective sequel developers take from this big adventure, it's this: leave the Chaos Portals out of this and just make the game you know you can make. As the rest of the adventure proves, the Amalur franchise can still hold its weight.