At the Gamescom convention in Cologne, Germany, BioWare Austin revealed a new IP coming to PC in 2015: Shadow Realms. You may have seen it being teased for the past few weeks with the “You’ve Been Chosen” viral ads, showing regular people in the modern day with exceptional powers. That’s this game, and - as you might guess - those teasers were pointing towards an experience unlike anything BioWare has made before. So, what is the team working on? Here’s everything you need to know to get caught up.
It takes place in modern times.
Unlike BioWare’s other titles, which favor medieval worlds, fantastical futures, and battles taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Shadow Realms is set in the modern era. The world isn’t exactly like ours, but it includes people and places you’d recognize in 2014. That’s not to say it’s wholly familiar, though - our world is currently a battleground for the factions of Embra, where the Radiant Empires and the Shadow Legions have been warring for eons. The Radiant Empires need help from Earth’s humans to fight enemies both in their realm and ours. That’s where you come in.
Each game features four players joining the Radiant Empire...
Four players join the side of the Radiant Empire, helping push back the Shadow Legion’s bloodthirsty horde in third-person, action-packed battles. You’ll be able to choose between playing a Warrior, Assassin, Wizard, Cleric, Ranger and Warlock, but your customization only begins with the class. You can modify your Hero’s powers, items and abilities, customizing your character immensely. Want to use a giant axe? Rather blast your foes with fireballs? Think you'll ditch all that sword and sorcery stuff in favor of a good, old fashioned shotgun? Go for it. That’s your call.
...and one player taking the role as the Shadowlord.
You’re not going to be battling some mindless army when you’re fighting for the Radiant Empire in Shadow Realms. The Shadow Legion’s forces are controlled by the ethereal Shadowlord, an player that manages the tactical side of their deadly army. You can control the ghostly figure on the battlefield, possessing monstrous enemies when you want to be in direct control, and setting traps to make choke points when you want to be more passive. It’s this asymmetrical, 4v1 competitive gameplay that makes Shadow Realms really stand out.
It’s story-driven and episodic.
What, you thought that just because this was a competitive multiplayer game, BioWare wouldn’t find a way to inject story into it? This is BioWare we’re talking about. If there’s a story to tell, they’re going to tell it. And Shadow Realms? It has a story to tell. The world is full of lore and narrative, and each mission plays out like an episode of a TV show, full of impactful choices and cliff-hanger endings. New episodes will be released regularly, adding fascinating characters and plenty of reasons to keep coming back.
Brings BioWare back to its roots.
In BioWare’s early years, the developer looked to recreate the fun of playing tabletop games with PC RPGs like Baldur's Gate and NeverWinter Nights. In a post on the official Shadow Realms website, James Ohlen (lead designer of Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins and others) discussed that Shadow Realms looks to fulfill those concepts in a new way. The Shadowlord, serving as the Dungeon Master, puts the “AI” in the hands of a human, rather than a computer, making for an incredible amount of unpredictability. Ohlen puts it best, saying “Shadow Realms isn’t just hearkening back to those early BioWare PC games—it’s finally bringing the magic of tabletop RPGs to the digital realm.”
If this sounds interesting to you, we’ve some good news - you’re not going to have to wait too long to find out more information. BioWare will be letting a limited number of players into the game over the next few weeks and months in a Closed Alpha. They’re looking for feedback, and you can sign up to be a part of it on their registration website.
Posted by Hollander Cooper on August 13, 2014