Realm Royale (Open Beta, Console) Review
Realm Royale (Open Beta on console) Review 8/10 (reviewed on ps4 pro)
Realm Royale launched on PC last year, and came in a limited fashion to console. Now in January it launched fully free in Open Beta on console. That is when I got my hands on it, and I have to say I love this game. Realm Royale is made by Hi-Rez the makers of Smite and Paladins and is set in the Paladin’s universe. Featuring the same pseudo-fantasy era/modern day mashup as Paladins where machine guns and horseback riding, catapults and cloaking technology, somehow all coexist in a fun and crazy world. Realm Royale has a fun and cartoony art style that has major Fortnite vibes but remains unique enough to stand out. The weapons in the game feel unique and fun, my favorite being the staffs which act as great all range weapons.
With Battle Royale games quickly on the rise, it is important for games to bring unique gameplay elements to make the experience unique, and I feel Realm does this well.
(Realm Royale Launch Trailer)
One of the unique aspects of Realm that I really enjoy is Forging. Fitting well in the fantasy era theme, during a match players can collect shards which act as temporary in-match currency that you can use at forges to spawn items. You can choose potions for health and armor, a weapon or ability, or even the ability to resurrect fallen squad mates. This really adds a layer of strategy in squad based gameplay. This is the first BR game I have played where surviving teammates can theoretically resurrect a fallen squad mate, and it adds a great deal of tactics to your squad gameplay. If your squad is being overrun, cutting and running is less cowardly because you can run to a forge and try to recover them in an “orderly retreat”. It also increase the importance of getting an entire squad when you run into an enemy squad It is important to not let any one get away. The forges are pretty balanced so the player doesn’t feel like loot is unimportant. Loot chests provide items that can be turned into shards, as well as you can’t choose what item specifically you forge just the category.
Another unique aspect of gameplay is downing a player. When a player is down instead of crawling, they turn into a chicken.
Yes you read that correctly, a CHICKEN. The player hops around and runs clucking loudly and hilariously until respawning. This is not only quite comical, but it also adds a definite challenge to gameplay. It increases survivability slightly, making it require more strategy and team coordination to get kills. Because players respawn on their own, and teammates have the option to resurrect at forges, it makes eliminating players and squads quickly a priority.
Realm Royale is also the first BR game I have played to feature class bassed warfare. While everyone still starts off with no loot or weapons, everyone spawns with one unique class based movement ability; as well as different classes have different stats with different weapons. This comes in to play also when purchasing and unlocking skins, making sure your skin is for the class you like best.
Realm Royale features a similar free to play model we have come to expect from games in the last two years. There is an optional “Battle Pass” although I have to say this is the most generous pass I have seen. The free tier seems to have good loot, and the paid tier was free to PlayStation Plus subscribers. There is of course premium currency popularlized by fortnite, and premium skins.
Another major unique aspect is the mount system. Every character can spawn a horse (or other creature depending on unlocks) and ride faster across the map. This helps traversal of the map feel more fun, increasing the pace of gameplay. It also feels very balanced, the horse disappears when fired upon, players can’t shoot or grab loot from the horse, as well as the speed is not too fast to make the encroaching circle unthreatening.
Right now, the amount of skins and in game items feels pretty small, but I am sure that will grow with time.
Also simply because of its cartoon art style I do feel Hi-Rez needs to do a bit more to make this game visually and gameplay distinct from Fortnite. Hi-Rez already made a reputation for itself when Paladins launches with more than a comfortable amount of Overwatch similarities. Paladins has never been able to overcome its similarities to Overwatch, that Realm Royale needs to escape even more the shadow of the Fortnite to stay relevant.
Also, this game while admittedly is still “beta”, the game (at least on PS4) crashed more than too many times for me. I had it crash three times in a single stream. In a game genre where winning is infrequent and matches are long there is no worse feeling than being in the top 15, have good loot, and hear that buzzing crash sound and watch the screen freeze. This is admittedly a fixable flaw, but a annoying one nonetheless.
In summary, with the game currently available for free, and the amount of unique gameplay measures, I feel like Realm Royale earns its spot in the ever exploding Battle Royale genre. Whether you are getting tired of Battle Royale or never tried one to begin with, this game is fresh and unique enough to make new comers or die hard long term fortnite/pubg fans feel at home.
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