Header Ads

  • Breaking News

    Shadow Realms: BioWare ina brand new format,Preview

    Honestly, we were hoping for Mass Effect 4. Perhaps that’s short-sighted of us, but when BioWare said it would be revealing a new game, we hoped it would be the return of the beloved, if awkwardly ended, franchise. So the reveal of Shadow Realms, a D&D-inspired co-op RPG with an initially fascinating but now (bizarrely) rather common four versus one mechanic felt like more of an anticlimax than it should have done.

    You play as one of a number of Heroes who wake up in the modern world suddenly with magical powers and get pulled into the realm of Embra. There you must fight the Shadow Legions led by the Shadowlords (also player characters) and save humanity. So far, so familiar, but actually Shadow Realms is all about mixing the familiar with highly contrasting elements. For instance there are one of six classes to pick from currently, Warrior, Assassin, Wizard, Cleric, Ranger and Warlock but each starts out in modern clothing. As the game progresses you could augment this with items from Embra, turning yourself into an office worker wizard or punk rock medic.

    Even within your class, there’s a lot to pick from. BioWare has described for instance how different battle situations and team balances may lead you to switch up your focus. A Medic might move from direct healing to team healing moves for instance if they’re constantly being overwhelmed. Every class has variations to it and that’s before we even get into the array of weapons you can customise your hero with. From guns to battle axes, the modern and the fantastic mix happily in Shadow Realms and they all tweak how you play a little.

    The action is very fast-paced, forgoing some of the stop-start gameplay you would find in a single-player BioWare adventure like Mass Effect or Dragon Age. This is much more direct and instantly gratifying. It has yet to show us much depth yet, but talk of increasing challenge that forces class refocusing and weapon customisation does hold much promise. Likewise, the world design of Embra is rather generic, but since your characters are supposed to be from our world, we wouldn't be surprised to see things spill back over. Again, there’s promise here.

    What’s more is that the episodic structure BioWare will be using to release the game is an interesting move. Similar to Fable Legends on Xbox One, Shadow Realms will release in several parts and that could mean very different approaches in each one. Not to mention BioWare’s trademark narrative control handed to the player, which may lead to some very varied storylines and a good reason to go back and play through again.
     “ This game brings us back to our roots in the realm of classic pen and paper RPGs”
    Playing as the Shadowlord is the more challenging side of the game, acting as the dungeon master and laying traps for your prey. Using a magic meter, your ability to spawn enemies and contraptions is limited, but it increases over time, so you should be able to spring some nasty surprises on your competitors. You also have the option of acting as a direct agent in the battle, possessing one of your minions, not unlike Harbinger in Mass Effect 2, so you can be a part of the fight. When this happens, though, the players will be able to tell it’s going on by a blue glowing orb above the head of the creature you’re commanding. But when that creature could be the level boss, knowing and doing something about it are two very separate things.

    and yet inspired by classic RPG tropes, confined into episodes, but showing hints at classic BioWare scope. It shows signs of a studio that’s looking to break out from its traditional standing and find new ways of engaging players, but is still standing fairly firmly on ground that it finds familiar and striking out from there. We're intrigued to see what BioWare will be revealing next for its first new IP in five years, not least if it might reach beyond PC and land on consoles eventually too.

    FOUR VERSUS ONE has fast become a kind of magic formula for making co-op games with a competitive edge. The similarities between Evolve, Fable Legends and Shadow Realms are pretty clear, although all three likely started development around the same time. The decision to have one player control the villain seems smart, and what it creates is the added unpredictability of having a human influence the enemy. It should keep every episode of  Shadow Realms fresh while also
    allowing for some replayability, something that’s often missing from games structured in this way.

    No comments

    Post Top Ad


    Post Bottom Ad