Entering the ever expanding ring of battle-royale games, Hi-Rez Studio has released a beta version of their new game, Realm Royale. The game is technically a spinoff of their previous title, Paladins, a first person hero shooter that had the unfortunate luck to be released around the same time as Blizzard’s Overwatch. That seems to be a trend with this studio, and for better or worse, Realm Royale has found its way into a market saturated with arena shooters.
The two big battle royale titles that Realm Royale has to compete against are PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds—or PUBG for short— and Fornite. Both games have large and dedicated fanbases, meaning that Realm Royale is already off to a rough start even before its official release. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds appeals to hardcore gamers with its realistic game engine, and Fornite is the game of choice for the more creative types, since craftable environments are a big part of the game.
Luckily for us, Hi-Rez Studio released a beta version for free that anyone can try. It borrows a lot of the tropes from similar titles. A group 75 to 100 players are dropped off onto an island from a flying machine; from there, they must gather weapons and gear as they attempt to kill the other players, becoming the last player standing.
So what makes this game different? It’s simpler than the other two titles. That’s not a bad thing; Realm Royale is more streamlined than Fortnite or PUBG, and it knows where to keep its focus. This game’s gimmick is its class system. Instead of different weapons that can be used by any player, or resource gathering to build environments, Realm Royale is mostly focused on the interaction between its classes.
There are five classes to choose from in the game: Warrior, Engineer, Assassin, Mage and Hunter. Each class has their own special weapons and abilities, and in this way the game resembles hero shooters. It’s an interesting dimension to the game, and gives Realm Royale a fun sort of variety that keeps the game engaging. All the classes are easy enough to understand: Fighters can take more hits. Hunters do well against single opponents. Mages can utilize spells to both move and deal damage and engineers can control battlefields. As the game is now, Assassins feel a little bit overpowered, but they have a high skill ceiling, so it evens out.
Like Fortnite, Realm Royale is a third person shooter in which every match takes place on one huge map containing different biomes. The controls feel very steady and responsive; I haven’t played through a match yet where I felt like I lost because of the controls. Realm Royale may even be one of my favorite third person shooters in that regard.
As each match goes on, the playable area grows smaller and smaller. Most of your time will be spent opening chests to unlock new weapons and abilities; you can also collect currency from chests and by killing other players, and use this currency to craft better weapons, armor and skills. This is a fundamental part of victory, as the closer the match gets to the end, the more skilled and prepared the remaining players are.
The overall objective, which is to be the last one standing by killing other players, is supplemented by this hunt for items and powers, and these minor goals help the game stick to a steady pace. There’s never a moment that is spent just waiting, which is a little problem I’ve had with PUBG. This game is always engaging, and there’s always something to do.
I also like the aesthetic of the game. The graphics are Pixar-like, and are closer to Fortnite than PUBG. This helps establish a certain voice for the game; it’s a game that you don’t need to take too seriously, and allows for things like casting spells or turning into chickens to exist without cracking suspension of disbelief. It’s a game that’s allowed to be a little silly.
I hope that Realm Royale can carve out it’s own little piece of the battle royale genre, because it deserves it. It’s a fun game that adds a few new twists to arena style games. If you like these kinds of games, at the low price of free, Realm Royale is a great pick. I’d recommend it if you’re new to the genre: there’s a lot of nuance to it, but it’s also a good beginner game for arena shooters. I’ll be playing more of it in the future.