The alpha test of the newest massively multiplayer arena game published by Aeria Games & Entertainment, Inc. has powered down again and we’ve got some play time to check it out. Realm of the Titans is a natural extension of the Defense of the Ancients multiplayer arena game that pits 5 vs 5 heroes against each other for control of a map. The in game heroes are called Titans each controlled by either a computer or a player who provide artillery, support, or front-line-reaping for the opposing armies clashing across the map.
Defense of the Ancients (DotA) Games
Games like this are essentially entirely arena match-up games fought for control of a map. The player controls a hero character (a Titan) who assists screening units as they advance from spawn points across the line of scrimmage and attempt to take enemy territory. Players can lead their heroes alongside their troops and use them as meat shields or as distractions for enemy units so that they can hew through them and static defenses.
Enemy heroes will also possibly arrive on scene to clobber allied Titans as they try to pave a way for their troops to attack the citadel housed at the far end of the map.
Realm of the Titans doesn’t differ much at all from this sort of group vs. group game play.
Titans: The player in a different skin
In game, there is a huge selection of Titans for players to choose from. Looking at the join screen it was hard to keep track of all of them, and Aeria Games expects to constantly expand their stable of heroes as to help distinguish Titans from every other DotA-inspired game on the market. In fact, they’re adamant as not to copy DotA so closely that they changed up the game play in order to give it a wildcard strategic element in the Titan Skill System.
Each Titan has their own strengths and weaknesses, primarily brought into the game through their capabilities—some Titans are capable of dishing out a lot of damage at melee range, but have little range; some Titans have powerful AoE attacks but recharge slowly—a rock-paper-scissors metaphor doesn’t quite cover the total combinations that can be generated with teams of 5.
Each Titan has four default abilities that strengthen through the game the player chooses which one to beef up. The player will always feel like they’ve got a lot of firepower at their fingertips.
Determining what a team is up against and how to counter the strategy of the oncoming enemy is the virtue of any victory in this game, but it’s not as simple as matching up the appropriate play styles. The addition of a fifth skill—the Titan Skill—throws a wrench into planning around the initial choices of the enemy. Titan Skills get chosen at the beginning of arena combat, but also get upgraded and/or switched every 3 minutes, permitting a well-coordinated team to change up their strategy as they understand the enemy.
Titan Skills provide a variety of unexpected boosts such as Teleport, allowing a hero to jump anywhere on the map; Frenzy, a berserker mode that lasts 12s increasing DPS at the cost of armor; Meditation, feeding extra mana at a quicker rate to power support and spells; others included a shield that absorbed damage, one that caused your Titan to revive more rapidly after being killed, etc.
The tide of battle can certainly suddenly turn if all those armor-based heroes who have been holding the line for the last six minutes suddenly switch to Frenzy and unexpectedly push through the points they were simply holding moments before.
Item System: Consumables and magic tokens
Alongside the individual skills and Titan skills, players also get the ability to purchase items—consumables, artifacts, etc.—that give them extra passive skills or active skills. These items are bought with gold earned by killing the enemy. So, as the battle progresses the lead party will be buying heavier and harder weaponry and magic items which can really cause the game to lean hard towards the team more capable of making kills.
However, this also provides another strategic decision: should they spend fast and early on low level enchantments and consumables to keep themselves in the game and provide endurance or should they wait until they have more gold to go around and buy heavy-hitting single-talent items that mimic Titan Skills so that they can double up?
Presumably, the item system in the game will also be connected to their free-to-play freemium shop. I didn’t get a good look at anything that could be bought with in game credits (this is an alpha test, after all) but I saw hints and suggestions that players could purchase permanent items.
This means that later in the game match ups would be seen against carefully crafted heroes who have been honed and prepared for their particular roles.
Graphics and Sound: Solid and working
The battlefield of Realm of the Titans makes good use of assets providing an easy way to understand what’s going on in a particular point of interest. The player is only able to see what’s happening around their own character through a fog-of-war effect; but there’s also a radar that tells them where allied Titans and troops happen to be positioned, enemy Titans also appear when they run into static defenses and allies.
The Titans are good looking, detailed, and well animated. Although, you’ll probably not spend that much time actually looking at them as clicking wildly away throwing fire, ice, lightning and other effects to slow down and stop the enemy. During any engagement, you will probably learn to recognized one or two particular enemy Titans and their capabilities, which often match what they look like. Huge tree things trend to fight melee; wispy, luminous girls tend to launch silver missiles from a distance. Oh yes, there’s even a giant, fat panda who seems to have a giant metal pan or a something. (I’m not quite sure; it had been pummeling my face in at the time.)
The Titans yell the same three things as you direct them in combat, reminding me a great deal of Blizzard games like World of Warcraft (the origin of the DotA game) and that can get somewhat annoying, but that’s staple for this type of game. The sound recording is clear and doesn’t interfere much. And you can often tell what type of enemy Titan is barreling down on you by what it sounds like.
I cannot speak to the number of maps, as I only saw one during my entire experience. Presumably, there will probably be more than one map style but generally they’ll fall into the same style of providing lanes from the citadel position to points of conflict in the center.
If you like DotA-inspired games, Realm of the Titans has given a very good show. It’s got a great variety of seemly well-balanced heroes and at least one map. The Titans have a lot going for them in sheer volume and different abilities permitting a lot of range of play styles. The map is vast, pretty and well defined with points of interest easily chosen which should make strategizing something that well-oiled teams do as they roll over the enemy.
I noticed that there’s a match-making service available, but not active in the alpha; so when the game goes live it will be possible to be sure to fight against people who fit your level providing extra challenge.
I could also repeatedly play against computer-only teams (me and 4 other computers against 5 computers). That wasn’t as fun as playing alongside a human who actually had things to say about strategy.
Realm of the Titans doesn’t have an in-game voice system, nor do they expect to, so people will probably just roll their own. Being free-to-play and supporting a lot of different character types, alongside Aeria Games’ already giant network of games and culture, I see a thriving arena battle community. So you’ll probably never be wont for an opponent night and day.