Electronic Arts’ subsidiary BioWare, creators of the Mass Effect series, have detailed Shadow Realms at their Gamescom conference, ending weeks of mysterious teaser trailers. Those short, confusing glimpses were often of real actors doing rather strange activities such as crushing houses with their minds and seeing a bellowing smokestack coming from a sitting torso. In reality, BioWare Austin, the same studio that brought the gaming public Star Wars: The Old Republic, is in charge of this new online Role-Playing Game (RPG) for the PC platform.
Shadow Realms looks to follow a simple yet emotional plot, as are some of BioWare’s cornerstones. The Shadowlord, leader of demonic armies called Shadow Legions from the land of Embra, has come to destroy Earth. He will have to contend with Modern Heroes with recently awakened magical powers. These powers will have a wide variety of effects on the battlefields with hoards of demons coming to take over various dungeon venues. The overarching story will be released episodically, meaning there will be multiple chapters to each character both playable and non-playable. BioWare has said these episodes will be weekly releases, but that may be for the launch window only.
With the mysterious trailers offering nothing on Shadow Realms’ gameplay, BioWare allowed for demos on the show floor to detail the game behind the story. Co-op, online play is an essential cog in this asymmetrical multi-player title. A team of four humans will be taking on a dungeon full of lower demons punctuated with area bosses and a final lord to encounter, all through a third-person point of view. Guns, melee weapons, and magical powers are used to best these encounters, but the player-controlled Shadowlord will not let them advance easily. The Shadowlord’s powers will revolve around manipulating the environment, such as placing traps, bombs and demons, and possessing fellow demons to stop the team of four in their tracks.
BioWare’s aim with this new RPG is to take players back to “Pen and Paper RPGs” according to Jeff Hickman, Vice President and General Manager of BioWare Austin. He goes on to say that all of the expected BioWare hallmarks will be present, even though this is a new type of game for their company. While this statement might be comforting to some fans, there are no other details on a console version, any possible micro-transactions, or on a release window thus far. There is, however, a closed alpha test that is open to anyone that signs up with an EA Origin account.
BioWare’s mysterious veil has lifted, revealing Shadow Realms to be an intriguing title to watch moving forward as more details trickle out. The trend of asymmetrical multi-player action through games such as Evolve pits only player against player, but Shadow Realms looks to carve a new trend of rich story telling in the same kind of environment. An episodic structure means fresh content can come with further waves of demonic armies, offering hook after hook of gameplay and story for respective fans of each. BioWare fans that want to sign-up for alpha access can go to Shadow Realms’ official site and will be contacted by email whenever the session begins.
By Myles Gann
Shadow Realms Official Site