The future of the role-playing game lies in building your own character class, apparently. So says Big Huge Games man Ian Frazier, who's coincidentally making a game that allows you to build your own character classes - picking abilities from three broad Finesse, Might and Sorcery trees, and tying everything together with an over-arching "Destiny" which accords unique bonuses. That game is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and we've got a review on the way tomorrow.
The Destiny system is a neat touch. Besides stat bonuses which funnel you down one or other leg of the game's many-legged combat trousers, it treats you to a superficial but oddly compelling handle and (occasionally) a signature move or flourish. Shadowy "Arcanists", for instance, are equipped with elemental damage modifiers and a flashy teleport-dodge.
Amalur's implementation has a downside, though, and it's this: there's not nearly enough breaking of the fourth wall for my liking. What other Destinies might we concoct, Destinies that embody quirks of player behaviour, rather than quirks of the game's fiction? Here are some suggestions that double as rudimentary Amalur tips, based on content you'll find in the Amalur demo.
1. The Ping-Pong Ball
This is what happens when you fail to master the Dagger ability Shadow Strike, a charging, spectral stab-through manoeuvre that carries the attacker all over the place in an eye-blink. Keep hitting the button to perform up to five successive Strikes. On the plus side, this is brilliant for spreading status effects like poison across a mob without risking damage. On the minus side, it's easy to lose track of yourself among similarly sized opponents. Which one am I again?
2. The Frame Rate Killer
Followers of this Destiny aren't just out to blast people to smithereens - they also want to take down the Amalur engine, smothering it with special effects. Accordingly, you'll be favouring big splashy weapons like staffs with mixed elemental properties. As for abilities, make a beeline for Meteor in the final game. It drops pieces of planet on somebody's head. Your Xbox 360 will never recover.
3. The Fashionista
As you'll know if you've cleaned out the demo, Amalur offers a slew of generic armour pieces alongside uniquely tailored, purple-branded rarities. The Fashionista obsesses over the latter, spurning ordinary items with better stats for the sake of looking distinctive. Because what's the point of winning if you don't do it stylishly?
4. The Opportunist
Those born under the star of opportunism can't work out who and what the hell they want to be. They drift aimlessly through Amalur, latching onto one or other weapon for the space of a dungeon at most, casting it aside the second they find something new. Sound familiar? I recommend calling on the services of Fateweavers, who can reallocate all a character's ability points for a fee.