First Impressions of Realm Royale and Their Epic Superhero Landing
Having played a number of other games from Hi-Rez Studios, such as Smite and Paladins, I found myself downloading this game with a level of skepticism and worry. What would these developers know about creating a battle royale game, in a world where Fortnite dominated everything on the topic?
Realm Royale may have a long way to go, but it felt like a pleasant surprise all the way from falling to the ground, to nearly earning my first victory.
Something's Already Different - You Get Classes!
The start of the game immediately feels familiar: you start the match on an island, outside of the main map, and you’re surrounded by the other players you’re about to fight. Though, you can’t think too much about this because this is where you choose your class.
No, you did not mistakenly find yourself in a RPG.
You pick to play as one of five different classes: Warrior, Engineer, Assassin, Mage, or Hunter. Each class looks different, comes with a unique set of passives, abilities, and have a single unique weapon. Everyone starts out with a basic knife and a jump ability; your starting jump ability is determined by your class.
If you do not pick a class before the a match starts, you automatically play as the Warrior.
Though, some things never change: the jump!
First Jump Into A Beautiful Setting
While the class choices felt like a unique trait to add to the game, the start of my first Realm Royale match rubbed me the wrong way. It all felt too familiar. It was everything you'd expect from a standard battle royale pitch: spawn on an island, jump off an air ship, fight against 99 other players, and be the last one standing.
This feeling of familiarity didn't last long.
There were two things that stood out to me upon closer inspection of my inaugural jump -- the first were these icons on the map. These anvils, which I later learned were forges, were scattered all across the map. I had no idea what of their purpose or how they worked, but I knew players were going to land all over them. I stayed far away from those anvils during my first few games.
The second intriguing detail I noticed was during my fall. I observed my character did not have a parachute attached to their back.
I kept expecting to hear the "Whoosh!" of a glider, or anything, to slow my descent so I could properly angle my fall closer to a building to start my looting frenzy, but it never arrived. It wasn't until my character landed hard on the ground in the most epic of superhero landings did I realize these characters were stronger than the average person from PUBG or the characters you played in Fortnite -- they were on a different level.
This was where it clicked for me that Hi-Rez had something different here, and they were going to have fun with it.
For those who have followed the game's development or have played Hi-Rez's, Paladins, you may notice a lot of the structures and graphics feel like they were pulled from the Paladins universe. It's because they were.
Initially, this game was intended to be an add-on to Paladins. At some point, the developers pulled away from this and decided to make it a separate entry. Realm Royale felt like a medieval fantasy world, not like Lord of the Rings, but more akin to World of Warcraft. It was different from Fortnite, too.
While I enjoyed the background, I didn't have time to appreciate everything. The fighting ensued almost immediately.
The Same Formula With Different Mechanics
When I got over how phenomenal my landing looked, I saw other players had already landed nearby! I firmly relied on my previous expertise gained from my other battle royale games and entered the first medieval, fantasy house I could find and started looting. I chose to play as the Engineer class because its passive was when I had missing armor, I would regain 5 armor points back every second -- a useful tool for someone just starting out!
The first crate I opened had gauntlets and a revolver inside of it. I opened up the rest of the chests in the house and found a rifle, an exclusive Engineer ability, a turret, and a helmet.
The next house had fewer items, and many of them I couldn't use. Instead of leaving these items for someone else to pick up, I disenchanted them. Disenchanting broke the items down and turned them into shards. I didn't know what shards did, but I had plenty of them in every match!
It didn't take long to run into a number of other players equipped and ready to fight. Plenty of them had a partner at their side, which was bad for me because I did not party up with another person. I fought hard and did my best. During my battles I was able to take out a few, though many times I was completely outmatched. After learning a great deal and finding a weapon combo I liked, I nearly won one of my games!
Combat may feel a bit difficult during your first few games. You'll find its hard to hear when you've taken damage from an enemy during an engagement, since the weapon sounds are pretty load. Make sure you're watching your health and armor during your fights!
When I died, my character turned into a chicken with a white flag. The first time this happened, I was laughing too hard to notice this was the game's revive mechanic. On my second death I was more aware and prepared for it.
How it works is when you die, if you survive 30 seconds as the chicken you get to come back. While I never respawned from the chicken form, I enjoyed knowing this was not a party-exclusive feature. I could revive on my own!
The final thing I discovered was that every player comes with their own mount they can summon for increased mobility. While a great piece to add, it made the bite of the circle feel less fierce. I was never worried about dying to it, unless I wasn't paying attention or it was at the end of the game and I had nowhere to go.
The Gear, Weapons, and Abilities in Realm Royale
After several games, here's what I learned about the basics of Realm Royale's looting system.
You can loot from three different objects: a chest, a sleeker chest, and a crate. The standard chests contain random armor, weapons, and abilities. The sleeker chests only have weapons in them. And the crates only store potions, which you use to replenish your lost armor and health. There's a crate that air-drops from the sky, but its location is plainly displayed on the map, until someone loots it.
The weapons in Realm Royale are not elegant or fast. They're slow-paced and hold small amounts of ammunition at a time. For example, the "rifle" in the game fires off 8 shots before you need to reload it. The pistols in the game come with more ammo, but don't do as much damage. You can also loot a sword, and it does not have finite uses. Hack and slash to your heart's content!
You're limited to holding two weapons and two abilities at any time. The abilities are class exclusive, and if you loot something your class can't equip you turn it into shards.
Though, here's a great thing to note: there's no ammo in this game. You automatically have all the ammo you need. Additionally, there's no inventory management, only weapon and abilities management. What a relief!
Your character can equip four different armor pieces: a helmet, a breastplate, gloves, and boots. If a player shoots off your armor, you can replenish those lost points with the armor potion. You do not have to find new armor once its gone. They treat armor as if it were health.
None of the armor you equip changes the appearance of your character. While unfortunate, this leaves the door wide open for Hi-Rez to rake it in big by selling unique class skins and items later on.
All items have a rank: grey for common, green for rare, purple for epic, and orange for legendary. You can find the first three tiers throughout the entire map in chests. But you have to create legendary items at the forge, the anvil icons I mentioned earlier!
Hi-Rez included a great tool where any item you find on the ground displays an upwards pulsating arrow, if it's better than what you currently have equipped. This makes looting a lot faster!
Here is where you use those shards you've been amassing since the start of the game. At the forge! There you can craft legendary items, such as your class' weapon, armor, class abilities, and potions.
These locations do not have limited uses. You can craft as much as you like, as long as you have enough shards. Additionally, you can craft multiple items at once.
Using the forge comes with a price: everyone nearby knows you're using it. They won't hear a sound, but there's smoke coming out from the top. If you see a smoke stack coming up from the tower of a forge, you know there's players inside working on crafting legendary items.
So far, my biggest worry about the game is the fact that I have to choose between Duo or Squad matches. I have to choose between having a friend join me, or getting placed with a random person.
No solo queue is available, but if you're too eager to wait for your friends, you can join a Duo match and not have an ally drop with you. This makes the game more difficult as many players will have a partner with them.
This problem may get amended in the future, but there's no word on when, or if, to expect this. It's a bold move by the Hi-Rez team to not include this during their launch, but they may have other plans around this choice.
Though, if you take a closer look at the classes, you may notice there's a reason Hi-Rez did not make a solo mode available.
The abilities available to the classes feel like they were designed for players to create team dynamics.
For example, if you play as the Engineer, you have an ability where you can spawn a healing totem to heal yourself and an ally. If your buddy chose to play as the Warrior, they have an ability where they give you a protective shield to make you invulnerable to damage.
The two classes complement each other, and if you were to play either on your own, sure, you'd do fine. Though you're missing something when you don't play with a partner!
Hi-Rez knows what they've made. They've made a co-operative battle royale game where the players don't want to have the same class as their party members. They want you and your partner to think about your abilities and choose your play style wisely.
After a few matches you may notice you've received a ranking on the "Player Rating" icon on the main menu. I assume Hi-Rez added this to give players a higher quality matchmaking experience.
This may indicate future plans of making Realm Royale into a truly competitive Battle Royale game. How well this works out rests on how the quality of their matchmaking service and the intensity of player matches.
You Ready To Drop?
This certainly feels like the Hi-Rez team extensively played PUBG and Fortnite as they developed their own unique system. The graphics feel cartoonish like Fortnite, but the gear you find in chests all over the map make you want to check every house as the fog descends around you.
Because Realm Royale was just released, don't get too comfortable with how the game feels right now! Plenty will change during its development.
As of right now, Realm Royale sits as a unique entry in the battle royale genre. And if you want to figure out the nuts and bolts of the game while people figure things out, now's the best time.
You can jump into Realm Royale whenever you want to on Steam for free. Do remember the game is in Alpha, so expect plenty of problems, lag, and sometimes game-breaking moments. Overall, you should have a worthwhile experience and bring plenty of friends.
For more on Realm Royale, stick with GameSkinny, and if you haven't already, be sure to check out our Realm Royale beginner's guide to dominate the competition!