You might recall that we went hands-on with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin recently, talking about the setup for this return to the world of RTS. In short, the game is set in Ghur, the Realm of Beasts. The Stormcast Eternals are dispatched to a Dawnbreaker fortress that has been under relentless assault from the Orruk Kruleboyz. The group is on their heels as mankind serves as one of the last bulwarks against the forces of Chaos. Unfortunately, the Kruelboyz aren’t the only thing the Stormcast Eternals will encounter on Ghur. Sometimes the dead don’t stay that way…
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin is, at its core, a story-driven RTS with a full single player campaign, as well as 1v1 and 2v2 cross-platform online multiplayer modes. Recently we got to see two additional campaign missions, as well as a newly-revealed multiplayer mode called Conquest, and finally a release date reveal.
In our first hands-on preview we saw a bit of the mechanics of the game courtesy of the first campaign mission for the game. There are two resources in the Realms of Ruin – Command, and Realmstone. Command is granted based on the amount of the map you’ve reclaimed by capturing Arcane Conduits. When you’ve claimed those conduits you’ll have a few options for how to utilize them. You can build Bastions on top of these, each with a different purpose. They can expand your visibility, act as a stationary turret, or send out a healing pulse. They also generate a bonus to your Realmstone generation. Your troops and upgrades all require some amount of both of these resources, so capturing these critical points is paramount to controlling the battlefield. In this hands-on session we got to see the second and third campaign mission, as well as meet a new foe.
The second campaign mission kicks off with the Stormcast Eternals setting out in search of an artifact that should turn the tide against the forces of Chaos. Sigrun, the leader of the Eternals, his second in command Iden, and Magister Demechrios have set out with a contingent force on that mission when they are attacked by the Orruk Kruelboyz.
This second mission focused on doing more than simple numbers. The first mission I could simply throw tons of soldiers at my enemy to overwhelm them, but here I needed to mix things up a bit to conquer the deluge of rampaging Orruks. I was able to throw basic Liberators against the enemy before and they were strong enough to overwhelm the Kruelboyz as their units tend to be fodder, relying on numbers. Here I needed to deploy support Vanguards – the ranged units for the Eternals. Commander Sigrun and Magister Demechrios both have special unique powers they bring to the battlefield, unleashing deadly lightning and rallying the troops with a healing banner, so I could continue to press the attack, keeping the enemy on their heels. As we pressed on to take the four control points, we discovered that the Kruelboyz had captured three sets of scouts. Freeing them would allow me to punch above the unit cap, giving me the much-needed advantage to press the attack and finish off the remaining Gutrippaz, Hobgrot Slittaz, their leader Murkfang (the Orruk’s second in command), and other awesomely-named Orruk Kruelboyz that hold this area.
Mission three is significantly harder than mission two. The developers warned me of that fact, a fellow press member warned me of that fact, and coming face to face with the new faction I encountered here only served to reinforce that fact. While the second mission focused on mixed unit capture and hold tactics, this third one was a different beast entirely. While the Orruks represent a very real threat, the Nighthaunt and the Great Necromancer Nagash are likely a far greater problem. Having found the artifact, the Stormcast Eternals moved to secure it only to find that the Nighthaunt had bound it in Shyishian spectral chains. The Stormcast Eternals would have to defend Magister Demechrios as he cast magical spells to dispel these chains, lest the seemingly-innumerable swarms of the dead eventually overwhelm them. This battle was a true test of my skills thus far, asking me to attack seven Arcane Conduits surrounding three additional control points in the center. Five spectral gateways continued to reinforce the Nighthaunt, but no such reinforcements were coming for me – at least not in numbers that would allow us to prevail, unless Demechrios completed his mission. Thankfully, we also added a new unit to our brigade – the Celestial Prosecutors. Holding seven different control points is nigh impossible, but when you can take to the skies on silvery wings of justice and unleash death from above with a Prosecutor, it almost seems like you could succeed here. Holding the three chain pedestals in the center would ultimately be the key to victory. The relentless assault from Chainrasps, Craventhrone Guard and Grimghast Reapers put my RTS skills to the test, but ultimately we broke the chains, securing the artifact and winning the day.
Beyond the two missions we got to play for this preview, we were also introduced to Conquest Mode – a single player challenge mode that uses procedural generation to create 1v1 skirmishes, but with randomized modifiers to keep things interesting. There are a number of these yet to be revealed, but they can be things like reduced unit visibility, strict time limits on objectives, faster unit movement speeds, and more. These are played for score, and I’d imagine placement on a leaderboard. This randomization should give the Frontier Developments team an opportunity to play with various mechanics outside the norm to challenge players in new ways.
What struck me most about this second hands-on opportunity was that the team is working hard to bring the tabletop units players have known for decades to life in new and interesting ways without the mundane aspects of 3” thick rulebooks, rulers, and oodles of paint. The Nighthaunt joins the roster of expanding factions we’ll be able to play in multiplayer, but it’s also very clear that the team is emphasizing the single player experience to be more than a training ground for online competition. The cutscenes continue to impress, as does the voice acting and capture work. This one looks like it’ll scratch the RTS itch as well, even if you can’t tell the difference between a Man-Skewer Boltboy and a Beast-Skewer Killbow. The true test will be mission variety. All three of the campaign missions, as well as the multiplayer missions thus far have been a variant of capture and hold, asking players to lock down Arcane Conduits in various ways. While the writing can do a lot of heavy lifting, Realms of Ruin will need more than this one move to capture and hold player interest. The good news is that we won’t have to wait long – the final announcement was the release date. Coming to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and S, Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin is headed our way on November 17th.
Look for our continued coverage of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin right here at GamingTrend.com as we head towards November – it’ll be here before you know it.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).