Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – The Legend of Dead Kel DLC Review
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a game filled to the brim with content. Mix the vast exploration and the fact that almost every other character has a side quest to pull players away from the main storyline, and you have yourself a title with already so much to do. 38 Studios feels that more is better and is ready to provide players with the first DLC expansion, and it is massive. The Legend of Dead Kel takes players off to a new island, Gallows End, where they embark on a suicidal journey to track down the dread pirate Dead Kel.
Packed With New Content
Assuming your character meets the level 10 requirement, you can set sail for Gallows end accompanied by the dim-witted Captain Brattigan. Thanks to your incompetent companion, the two of you end up shipwrecked on Gallows End, the island inhabited by the notorious undead pirate Dead Kel. However, while a real-life counterpart may have found this situation unfavorable, players will find nothing but excitement upon reaching the mysterious fortress’ shores. If you were to compare Gallows end to the mainland, the entire island is roughly the size of Detyre. This should give you an idea of just how much area there is to explore as well as the huge scale of the DLC. As you may have guessed, the island differentiates itself from the rest of Amalur’s surroundings as this one is completely pirate-themed, but don’t worry, it’s not overdone. From the docks at Dark Harbor to the village of shipwrecked religious inhabitants in Cape Solace, the environments manage to distinguish themselves and stand out as you venture all around the island.
Looks aren’t the only thing Gallows End has going for it. The island is also bursting with loot to be found. Several new items await you and can be obtained through conquering Dead Kel’s henchmen or by gathering pieces of treasure maps to locate important dig spots. There are some extremely memorable weapons such as The Harpy, a beautifully-designed greatsword, or The Spine, a giant hammer crafted from a large creature’s vertebrae. You’ll definitely enjoy wielding these monstrous weapons against the new and engaging enemies. Also, since this is a pirate-themed expansion, there’s plenty of pirate garb to toss on to your character if you feel like really fitting in with the new environment.
Gallows End is, much like the main game, loaded with side quests that are sure to help players stray from hunting Dead Kel. However, unlike the side quests found on the mainland, these ones tend to be more relevant to Dead Kel’s story. This is mostly due to the fact that the island is separated from the huge mass of land that players have become familiar with and, therefore, the story and its complimenting side quests are more concentrated and focused on a single theme/narrative. The amount of content here is great, but I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet.
Live Like a Pirate King
One of the best additions to be found in this DLC is Gravehal Keep. This ancient fortress can be taken by the player and then upgraded further so that the once abandoned ancient structure is once again filled with life. By utilizing collected materials scattered about on Gravehal Keep, the fortress will update with more people, shops and other visual additions. Eventually, you’ll have a town of people, some of which can provide more XP or items. There’s a scout that, by your command, will search various shipwrecks for undiscovered loot. Also, an animal trainer can aid in attaining a pet. The pets serve as player buffs. For example, gaining a bear as a pet will provide the player with increased health. By continuing to feed these animals, the strength of the bonuses increases. Watching Gravehal Keep grow and thrive over the course of the DLC is rewarding. What started out as a dump eventually transforms into a lively base of operations filled with useful characters ranging from a combat trainer to a librarian. Toward the end you’ll even be able to sit upon a throne and listen to the other characters. If you’ve ever played Fable 3, then you should have an idea of what I’m talking about. Let me say that this is a much grander and rewarding experience than the aforementioned title.
A Story as Lively as Dead Kel
The story found at the center of the DLC is somewhat disappointing. The DLC is called “The Legend of Dead Kel” and, as the name implies, it revolves around Dead Kel. Unfortunately, he isn’t all that interesting of a character. The most memorable character is the inappropriate Captain Brattigan and, while that isn’t exactly terrible, that definitely says something. The story focuses on the connection between Dead Kel and Gallows end. While a dead pirate and an island with a dark theme may seem like the perfect setup for a great tale for our fate-less hero(especially coming from Reckoning), this DLC somehow manages to miss the mark. Chances are you won’t be too surprised as the story develops and may feel that, once you’ve completed the add-on content, something is lacking.
Let me start off by saying that this won’t be an issue for everyone. There’s no arguing that there is plenty of loot to be dug up and collected during your time on Gallows End. However, the quality of said loot ranges wildly depending on the level of your character. Those who jump into this content at the level 10 minimum requirement will find themselves extremely more powerful than when the first sailed to Gallows End. Adversely, players who have invested countless hours or who have reached the level cap won’t find much of a reason to replace their current powerful weaponry (unless you’re in it for the looks alone). If anything, this should encourage high-level players to try out a different build that they may have neglected before.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s first DLC offering is a winner. Depending on the time put into side quests and general exploration, The Legend of Dead Kel provides 6+ hours of fresh new gameplay. Over those several hours, players will encounter new enemies, gain gorgeous new loot and even become the leader of their own upgradeable fortress. With the plethora of entertaining content present here, it’s somewhat disappointing to find out that the story running through it all is not too engaging. Still, this is exactly what DLC should be like and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that I can’t wait to see what 38 Studios has planned next.[Editor's Note: The Legend of Kel was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The DLC was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - The Legend of Dead Kel DLC Review,