Let’s talk warfare. Game-wide PvP style warfare where factions clash over disputed territory and roll in unleashed waves of violence across the surface of a game world, thundering on their warhorses, and quaking the land as armies clash. This could be the vision behind Realms Online, a free-to-play MMORPG published by GameSamba that pits three realms against one another for supremacy of the land.
From the parts that I explored, nowhere was fundamentally safe. Although, I should point out, almost like a war journalist I found myself thrust into the thick of battles. With arrows singing overhead and spells sizzling the ground at my feet, I bring to you this news story.
Realms Online will be fundamentally about the competition between three powerful nations: the Alsius Empire, the woods of Syrtis, and the Brotherhood of Igni. The gameplay follows pretty standard fantasy mechanics but provides its primary flow for enabling player-vs-player conflict. The realm mechanics also give rise to potent reasons for players to clash, gain prestige for their realms, and hopefully win the current war. A single round of the war can last weeks depending on the skill and prowess of the players.
Taking Territory: To strike at the heart, first one must bring the walls down
The three Realms of Realms Online are no spring chickens when it comes to warfare. They’ve been working hard at building fortifications, walling off their territories, and preparing them for sieges. The first mechanic in game is that fortifications like fortresses and walls must first be taken by the enemy before a region can be deemed safe. Taking enough fortifications seems to open up others to attack—permitting the advance of armies from other realms into your own.
This gives players a lot of leeway on how they might wish to handle the oncoming hordes. They can stay and defend their fortifications with bow, blade, and magic—going so far as to stand atop crenellated walls and rain down firepower upon enemy forces. Also, they can form war bands and strike at the enemy defenses, hoping that most of the enemy forces had decided to cross the bridges and won’t notice that they’re losing their fortresses behind them.
One of the elements that I saw is that people may upgrade fortresses by dropping money into a treasure chest within them. With enough gold deposited more mobs appear to defend the structure as well as enabling players to solidify the defenses further by making it harder for the enemy to break them down. It also leaves behind a nice bit of booty for the invading force to pillage once they breach the defenses (aside from burning their banners and drinking their rum.)
Siege battles for walls and fortresses can be fairly intense. I watched one while I was in game and ended up biting the dust several times. Thankfully, the presence of a member with mass resurrect came in quite handy. Otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here today.
World Capture the Flag: The gems of the realms
Warriors bearing the mantel and carrying the flag of a particular realm are seeking one thing from each realm (well two things) and those things are the realm’s gems. These gems are heavily guarded, precious artifacts ensconced within the deep defenses of the realm because they have a special capability: they allow a portal to be opened up that gives access to the god of the realms—a giant golden dragon who grants wishes to the heroes who greet him.
The gems present an interesting style of capture-the-flag. Each of the realms gems are giant things that are a bit unwieldy, but it is necessary to grab them and take them back to your territory in order to affix them into the altar for summoning the golden dragon-god. So I hope that your characters biceps are up to it, because when you grab a gem you have to run with it like a football. Players with a gem in hand will not be able to use their skills or weapons; they have to hoof it. Of course, you’d better have a troupe of blockers with you, because the moment you grab that gem the enemy will know—and they’ll be coming for you.
Infiltrating the enemy territory, taking their gem, and returning with it to friendly territory produces a scale of capture-the-flag not seen in the usual instanced battleground concepts of other games. Players will have to manage careful coordination with one another for getting in, fighting their way through the defenses, and getting out. It may give rise to many campaigns and strategies involving misdirection, brute force, and
PvP Realm Rewards: The reason that we fight
These wishes can take many forms from granting magical boons for your Realm during the next week (or round) or cursing one of the enemy realms with a terrible pox for a week (or round.) The boons will mostly consist of experience gains, probably damage or defense bonuses; and the curses will probably weaken enemy defenses, reduce damage and defense.
There is a selfish wish, however; the hero who slots the last gem and stands before the dragon-god can opt for ultimate power and wish for demigod status. The outcome of that, however, isn’t exactly what you might expect. The dragon invites all of the people who participated in the final round of the conflict from that realm into an arena and has them duke it out. The winner receives the power of a demigod.
Sounds like its taken right out of Highlander, right? “There can be only one!”
I haven’t seen this in action, but I hear-tell that the demigod character has vast pools of hit points, attack power, and everything else they want as well as being taller than the rest. The enemy realms would probably quail to see them stomping into battle, towering over their forces, and slicing them asunder like wheat before the scythe.
Warmasters: An interesting take on a skill system upgrade
While all classes in Realms Online happen to have three separate skill threes they can specialize into, it is possible to open up a fourth skill tree that is available to all classes. This special skill tree creates what is known as the Warmaster, which is a very special class indeed. Warmasters are given skills and capabilities that can turn the very tide of battles.
Warmaster skills are neither personally offensive or defensive, they don’t provide DPS or protection; instead, what they will deliver is battlefield support skills. For example, Warmasters are capable of teleporting their team across regions, allowing them to bring reinforcements and shock troops into the fray in order to buttress failing defenses or gaining surprise by outflanking an enemy.
Warmasters may also use their skills to entice allies to follow their lead. Within their skill tree, they are capable of dropping banners onto the battlefield where they stand which provide a boon to anyone who runs up and touches the banner. By dropping a banner, it provides a rally point for troops to rush to. Able to stand back from the crush of the melee, a skilled Warmaster could discern where troops are needed most, run there, throw down a banner, and get them to converge on that point; they could also use this skill give their force an edge against an oncoming charge.
People who spec deeply into the Warmaster skill tree will do so by sacrificing a lot of personal skills that would otherwise bolster their own class. As a result, it’s a very unselfish skill tree that works entirely towards support of other people and tends the character towards being a general rather than a solider in the fray.
Access to the Warmaster class is not difficult to discover, but it will be arduous to obtain. Unlike how other games played out their specialized classes—such as how Star Wars Galaxies initially did Jedi—how Warmaster is learned will not be a secret. However, players will recognize that anyone with the skill tree has spent a lot of long, hard gameplay working their way through trials and tribulation to gain that recognition.
We at GameOgre look forward to the release of this game and we’ll try to keep you up-to-date on everything this means as it prepares for the launch.
If you’re into worldwide PvP, have friends willing and ready to stay up all night in order to plunge deep into enemy territory and rush out with a gem in tow you’ll probably find this a fairly exhilarating experience.
The game hasn’t been around long enough yet to fully appreciate the gameplay, community, or overall mechanics; but the thought that seems to have gone into the overarching design looks extremely promising.