Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an action RPG set in the fantasy world Amalur, which is divided into several kingdoms. It was once a peaceful world until Gadflow, the new king of the Winter Court of the magical Faelands kingdom, marched with his followers – the Tuatha Deohn – to wage war against the young races of Amalur. He believes a new god called Tirnoch is to be born in the East. The conflict is a hopeless affair for the other races as the Fae revive after death. The player controls the protagonist called Fateless One from a third-person perspective. Ten years into the battle he (or she, the gender can be determined after the introduction) falls in the conflict and is carried away into a mass grave. He awakens however and discovers he was revived by the the gnomish scientist Fomorous Hugues through an experimental Well of Souls. He has no memory of his life and when the facility is attacked by the Tuatha Deohn, he has to flee. Once back in the world he learns from Fateweaver Agarth that he is the only one who has been able to escape fate, the predestination all individuals are subjected too. His initial goal is to find back Hugues to find out more about the experiment, but the search soon expands in a larger story involving Gadflow, his minions, and the new god.
After the introduction, the player defines a character by choosing a gender, and a race: Almain, Varani, Ljosalfar, or Dokkalfar. They correspond to Civilized Humans, Nomadic Humans, Light Elves, and Dark Elves respectively. They each have one or multiple racial bonuses. The next choice is one of the gods bound to the race as a patron (Fire, Water, War, Death, Mischief, Earth, Love, Fate, Wisdom, Order, Justice, and others, or none at all) with additional perks. The name and the appearance can also be defined through a preset or by individually manipulating features.
The combat is fast and various weapons can be used, both for melee and long-ranged attacks. The character can equip a primary and a secondary weapon and further items such as helmets, chestplates and footwear can be collected and assigned in an inventory. Next to a health bar, there is mana for magic attacks. These consists of spells, but there are also various items that can be assigned to quickslots accessed through a radial item menu in-game. In combat multiple enemies often needs to be taken care of simultaneously and there are different attacks, including combos, blocking, and dodging. During certain sequences there are quick-time events, a rage meter can be built up for a devastating attack and it is possible to fateshift a single opponent for a cinematic finisher. Players can also loot items and collect gold. The main character can interact with NPCs and next to dialogue trees there are radial conversation options, similar to those of the Mass Effect games, that offer choice and consequence.
Experience earned during combat is used to level up. For each new level the player can specialize in skills such as alchemy, blacksmithing, lockpicking, mercantile, persuasion, stealth, and more, to further define the character. Skill progress is split up in three stages (basic, advanced, and master) with multiple skill levels each. Further customization is offered through abilities. Experience points are also exchanged for abilities through a skill tree with three main categories: Might, Finesse, and Sorcery. These correspond to the RPG classes fighter, rogue, and mage respectively. After the initial scenes the game gradually opens up into a larger world with a main storyline and various sidequests. Various towns can be visited to shop for new items and to fetch new quests.