Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a huge game, spanning multiple realms and too many quests to possibly keep track of and easily over sixty content if you like a side quest or two. Amazingly The Legend of Dead Kel not only puts forth new characters, new areas and a hell of a lot of new quests, it actually adds a ridiculous amount of gameplay for the poultry sum of 800pts. To experience everything the DLC has to offer could see the overall time spent with Reckoning increased by a further fifteen hours (well they say twenty but it’s really more like fifteen). That is not to be taken as a negative though, fifteen hours worth of new content for 800pts is excellent value and further highlights the sheer amount of game available to the player within Reckoning.
To begin this rather large piece of DLC you will need to be at least a level ten, however it’s not really recommended until you have completed at least the main story quest - not because it is too hard, simply because the main narrative is one to be enjoyed and by completing Dead Kel early on you have the ability to level up before taking on the main adventure, potentially spoiling it a little. As most will have completed Reckoning on release, going back in to enjoy the DLC now is the best choice.
Taking the slow boat ride to Gallows End with a new colleague, Captain Brattigan, in search of the infamous Dead Kel was never likely to be a smooth trouble free jaunt across the ocean and true to form things don’t go to plan. As you find yourself washed up on the shores, it’s easy to see that you are not alone in enduring such a fate. Many a sailor in days gone by has found themselves washed up on the shores of this mysterious island with no ship to take them home and as a result many of the villages found on the island are inhabited by sea faring folk. All is not well though...
As you progress through the main quest you learn more about the inhabitants, our main bad guy Kel and the god that the villagers seek help from, Akara. For those that have played Reckoning for any length of time, and for those that have completed it (that would be a LONG time) then the main quest in this DLC offers no surprises - it is pretty much standard fare. Not a bad thing at all really, some excellent location hopping, fetch quests, meeting new people, more of that fantastic Reckoning combat and a reasonable narrative move everything along at a nice enough pace. The side quests however look to break from convention slightly and add a little spice to proceedings. It is in fact the side quests that impress the most containing oodles of witty dialogue along with some tough decisions ultimately making them vastly more interesting than the main objectives.
Perhaps the biggest detour from the original Reckoning template is the introduction of a new crib which you can spend time adding to and improving throughout the duration of the DLC. Gravehal Keep can be claimed giving you the tools to populate and improve into a fully blown castle fit for a king. Reminiscent of the lodgings in Assassins Creed 2 by completing missions in and around the island you are given new materials to be able to build up your ultimate fortress. It’s a welcome change from the constant questing and is by far and away the best addition to the title.
NPC's will populate your castle and some of them offer bonuses to gold collection and character skills. To add to this new raft of features you can train pets, yep...pets! Each pet offers a permanent bonus to your stats and they can be trained to increase the passive bonus.
Sure there is nothing at all groundbreaking within this DLC, it has all been done before but what helps is the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously and knows full well what it is. Gameplay variety was not Reckoning’s strong point and this DLC goes some way to rectifying this - not all the way however as the new features quickly feel repetitive. If you played Reckoning on release, completed it and are interested in diving back in then this DLC is well worth the asking price. Big, varied, outright funny in places, great value and fans of the original who are not yet burnt out through excess questing should grab this immediately.
Note - Sadly the makers of Reckoning and the above reviewed DLC 38 Studios / Big Huge Games have hit hard times since release and are now in liquidation. Here’s hoping some-one picks up this IP as it has definitely got legs.