Shadow Realms: What You Need to Know

Bioware's newest IP was revealed late last night. Here's everything we know.

At 5AM Eastern this morning, Bioware and EA revealed the detail of its latest IP: Shadow Realms. Hype had peaked. The audience was ready. Four cinematic teasers over three weeks had built a dark allure around the mysterious new title. It was finally time to open the curtain.

Anxious gamers deflated. The non-extistent game they imagined Bioware developing was gone.

So, that leaves the question: what are they developing?

Key Facts

Genre: Online 4v1 ARPG; Third-Person
Setting: Modern Fantasy / Horror
Developer: Bioware Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Release: Late 2015 – Closed Alpha "Next Month"
Platform: PC; not necessarily exclusive.

The Basics

Shadow Realms is an online 4v1 ARPG, where four players face a player-controlled "Shadow Lord" manipulating the battlefield. Set in a "modern fantasy world," it features players that wouldn't stand out in a crowd – magic and weapons aside, of course.

Bioware describes it as a "story-driven game." There will be a main, underlying story in which everything revolves. It will be a "continuously-updated story embedded in the online adventures, along with an ever-changing world." That narrative will be released episodically, "playing out over time like a great T.V. series. Each new episode will be experience together, by the community, as it's released"

Bioware talks about "going back to their roots," and trying to capture the magic of pen-and-paper games. The idea is that the Shadow Lord, controlling the battlefield, is akin to a game master. An acceptable comparison, but it's tough to imagine that feeling carrying through to the final game.

Closed Alpha already hits next month with sign-ups available now. "We want to build Shadow Realms with your help." The full game is set for a PC launch in late 2015.

Here's the first look at gameplay:

You've got three special abilities (1-3), a consumable slot (Q), your main attack (M1) and active defense (M2) There's also a fourth ability, your Adrenaline Ability, which builds from combat.

The Details

Bioware has already made six detailed posts about the game, detailing what we can expect. Below we've cut together some of the most relevant pieces of what they've written so far.

"(Shadow Realms) is a game that finally fulfills that fantasy of a never-ending RPG where the players meet up regularly to keep their epic adventures going for as long as they want." – Welcome to Shadow Realms

"Beyond the boundaries of everyday reality lie impossible realms where the laws of science do not apply.  ... Only an elite few have found the hidden pathways separating our existence from the sprawling and ancient world called Embra… where the magic, legends and monsters that inspired our myths are real." – Setting Overview

"Team up with three other Heroes in adventures facing off against a fantastic array of demonic bosses and supernatural creatures in a raging war against the Shadow Legions to save all of humanity." – Game Overview

"Shadow Realms has flexible RPG style character progression and customization that allows the player to choose their Hero's powers, whether that means shooting a gun, wielding an axe, or casting fireballs." – About Gameplay

Warrior, Assassin, Wizard, Cleric, Ranger, Warlock and Shadowlord. – Class Overview

"The Shadow Realms team is fully committed to (...) openness and transparency, and to getting players involved early in the design and development of the game." – Our Vision

The Reaction

While initially a letdown, we're starting to see where Bioware's coming from. After reading some dev blog content, the lore is compelling and the gameplay is starting to sound fun. We're curious to see how Shadow Realms fares against fellow 4v1 titles Evolve and Fable: Legends.

One of our most nagging questions is monetization. With mentions of episodic content, they might offer 'Chapter 1' for free, with new chapters costing extra. Fingers-crossed, but it may not help.

Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey
Deputy Editor


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