The Battle Royal genre has been picking up steam for the last couple of years, joining the likes of MOBAs, CCGs, and Survival Sandboxes as flavors of the week. Every developer wants to get a cut of the pie, so they’ll create their version of the genre in question with mixed results. Being successful in a budding genre tends to depend on a few factors, timing being paramount. Developer clout isn’t necessarily going to mean much. Just being the first to market with a title doesn’t mean anything, as most people can attest to witnessing — if you jumped in during an early version of a new genre it’s likely one of its competitors ended up being more successful, building on core elements and expanding features. I’ve covered plenty of these genres over the years, and have been playing Battle Royale games since the first — H1Z1. Clearly that entry isn’t the most successful version of the Battle Royale, as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnight’s Battle Royale have both seen more and longer lasting success. I have not played the former, but the latter didn’t appeal to me with it’s more juvenile design elements and the building mechanics felt unnecessary. Another new challenger has entered the ring, and being from a developer that I have a decent relationship with I had to try it out for myself.
Enter Realm Royale, Hi-Rez Studios’ addition to the Battle Royale genre. The game fits into the genre nicely, providing the same sort of experience you’ve come to expect, when you boil it down. You’ll still queue up for a game, enter a match, drop onto the map and try to be the last person standing — nothing has changed here. So why play Realm Royale over the other titles out there? Well, if you have played any of Hi-Rez’s games and have enjoyed them, you may be pleased to know that this is a spin-off title of one of their other games, Paladins. Using the same sort of graphic engine, similar gameplay with classes and skills, you’ll feel right at home if you’ve enjoyed their other titles in the past.
The game has launched its Alpha in Steam Early Access for now, but I assume a Playstation version of the game will pop up when the game gets to Beta (the rest of their titles have followed this pattern). It’s free to play as of now, and no sort of RMT has been added, but I’m sure that’s coming. It’s likely there will be skins and such that will appear in a virtual store. When the game hit Steam it had a duo and party queue but they have recently added a solo queue which allows you to play on your own. Five classes exist now and sort of match up with their Paladins counterparts. Each has unique skills that they bring to the table, so its imaginable that a party could queue up in a fairly balanced fashion. Once you’ve selected your class you’ll be able to run about a little lobby area and wait until the Zeppelin deploys to take you to the main island.
The map seems comparably sized to other BR games I’ve played. The “fog” will converge on a circular point on the map and you get to choose when to jump out and start you run.
Once on the ground you’ll want to head towards buildings that will contain loot. Instead of just picking up weapons of varying qualities, you’ll also pick up the skills specific to your class that will help you survive. Mages get fireballs while Assassins get smokescreens and the variety is a nice touch. I wouldn’t mind seeing a card system implemented ala Paladins where you could customize those skills further, but perhaps that would be limited to an account level? Could give an unfair advantage so perhaps that’s not the best move. A couple of things that set Realm Royale apart from the competition are mounts (though H1Z1 has vehicles you can find) that can be summoned at will, and the fact that when you die you’re not immediately dead. You’ll turn into a chicken and run around trying to survive for 30 seconds, at which point you will respawn as your human self to continue the fight. It’s a nice touch and rewards players for being more aggressive. Another nice touch is the ability to equip armor that makes you harder to kill. You can scrap items in the world for shards, and there are forges scattered around where you can use the shards to get ultimate abilities or weapons. The only problem here is needing to guard your forge for 60 seconds while a beacon shows everyone in the area that you are crafting something. I was able to make my ultimate weapon during my solo run and it was pretty sweet!
You’ll eventually die though, and during the few runs I have played so far, I managed to finish 20th when I duo queued and 10th during my solo run. I’m sure given enough rounds I’d be able to win one, and I haven’t felt that way during my time spent elsewhere. Overall I think Realm Royale sets itself apart from the competition pretty well, and given their player bases with their other titles I’m sure they will be able to sustain yet another session based game in their portfolio. I’d give it a whirl if other BR titles haven’t done it for you, or if you haven’t tried one because they’re all too similar. My only complaint to this point is that my 21:9 resolution isn’t available yet, but I’m sure that will come soon. Excuse all the black in the screenshots, thanks.