Age of Sigmar, which is regrettably the weakest version of Warhammer, is undoubtedly evoked by Realms of Ruin, which is an exceedingly basic real-time strategy game that concentrates on low-unit count battles. Realms of Ruin is very simplistic. Compared to its grandiose Old World equivalent, Total War: Warhammer, it is far more forgiving, yet it is just a fraction as enjoyable or entertaining to play to the same extent. Realms of Ruin is destined to join the ever-expanding cemetery of bad Warhammer games due to its clumsy mobility and a bewildering hands-off approach to combat.

Old-world blues music

Aesthetically speaking There are sparse streaks of terrain and vast open combat maps that replicate the excessively enormous 6×4-foot play area of the wargame. Additionally, you will be fielding armies that are about the same size and composition as those seen in Age of Sigmar’s army manuals. Realms of Ruin seems to be a true game of Age of Sigmar. The plot revolves around a Dawnbringer Crusade regiment of the Stormcast Eternals that has been defeated and is invading the realm of Ghur, which is filled with death and destruction, in order to acquire a powerful blah blah blah. If you have ever even so much as looked at a fantasy novel in a sideways manner, you will be able to figure out the remainder of the story.

Regarding Realms of Ruin, the most significant problem is one that is essential to Warhammer: The Age of Sigmar: When compared to the visually magnificent Old World, which is meticulously recreated in the Total War series, the renewed fantasy setting of the Mortal Realms is very boring. This is particularly true when compared to the Old World.

Imagine, for those who are not aware of the distinction between the Old World and the Mortal Realms, if everything you like about Total War Warhammer was pulled into a portal (this really occurred in the lore), and then a wizard transformed every single person who has ever lived into a League of Legends champion. If Warhammer Fantasy and 40K are punk and death metal, then Age of Sigmar is equivalent to Imagine Dragons. It has such a high sheen, and it lacks any of the trademark edge and grit that are associated with Warhammer. This is still true in Realms of Ruin, particularly when compared to games like Darktide and Total War: Warhammer 3, which are titles that immerse you in a substantial environment.

There have been several occasions when I have completed a quest only to be confronted with a complete system crash that wiped out all of my work. The campaign is functional, provided that it is not plagued by a number of horrible technical flaws. As an example, you could have to defend three ritual sites that are awkwardly positioned against waves of oncoming ghosts at the same time. Another example would be the competition to dominate a map’s goals and set up magic mortar sites to bomb a convoy. Both of these examples are examples of mission objectives that give novel twists on the “take and hold” gameplay structure. Realms of Ruin is a contemporary real-time strategy game (RTS) instructional campaign that is not offensive; yet, it is tiresome and difficult to play alone due to the fact that it has progress-erasing crashes and a boring plot in which the conclusion can be seen from a hundred miles away.

A fight is over.

The game Realms of Ruin draws obvious cues from Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2, which was released in 2009 and is considered to be one of the greatest Warhammer games. However, the game mistakes the success of that game in terms of simplifying with oversimplification: While the fighting in Dawn of War 2 was much reduced in comparison to that of other real-time strategy games, the restrictions placed on the makeup of your army gave more importance to the decisions you made as you advanced along the improvement tree for your faction. When maps were smaller and there were restrictions placed on unit recruiting, the decision between a melta cannon and a plasma gun became considerably more significant. If your unit construction was poor, your forces may have been defeated within the first ten minutes of the game.

Realms of Ruin’s upgrade system, on the other hand, does not bring any of this tension or strategy to the battlefield. Instead, upgrades tend to be “pick-one” boosts in damage or defense that are scarcely apparent. In light of the fact that the game has a number of other problems, it is extremely aggravating to experience how vital and yet meaningless things seem.

Once two units lock blades, neither side may disengage until one of them is either destroyed or retreats, which is an order that compels your survivors to make their way back to base and heal up. This is an ancient feature that was borrowed from Warhammer’s tabletop game, but it is not a good match for a real-time strategy game. In light of the fact that you only truly have agency over when your unit skills are used and what upgrades they bring to the battlefield, I discovered that I had very little actual influence over the development of a battle.

Due to some strange unit pathing, your troops will actually tumble over one another when you have two armies rushing at each other in Realms of Ruin. This will make the battle appear more like a fight that took place in a pub during the Renaissance fair. In the process of charging forward, my troops that were designed to take damage would often be pushed out of the way by their counterparts, who were equipped with glass cannons. They were ready to get a hit to the face from a hammer.

A substantial portion of my gameplay was devoted to operating a high-fantasy medical caravan, which required me to continually shuffle my pawns back to the frontline. This was necessary since the only realistic way for injured troops to recover is to wait at spawn. This often led to bouts that did not include a great deal of back and forth, and it was a sign that a lengthy and drawn-out loss was imminent if even a small portion of my troops were eliminated at the same time. During multiplayer games with other PC Gamer writers, all of our leaders were continually leaving the battlefield by mistake. The retreat ability key is also one of the most painful misclicks I’ve encountered in a real-time strategy game. It would have been nice to have some type of countdown or a warm-up animation that could be cancelled rather than having our generals instantly heel turn and go back to base every few minutes.

When our troops were able to remain on the field, the majority of the conflicts consisted of incoherent mobs of gold and green smashing each other to pieces. You have the ability to seize locations that allow you to construct a single tower that improves one of your army’s traits. This is one way that you can engage in more strategic play. It is always more efficient (and way less fun) to cram a bunch of cheap basic units onto a game-winning objective and buff them with a character than it is to try and play with all of the cool toys that are available to your faction. However, giving these tower sites priority over the game-winning conquest objectives always felt like self-sabotage. This is primarily due to the insanely long time it takes to capture one of these towers.

Realms of Ruin is practically a contradiction; why should I worry about upgrades when the AI pathing will destroy all of my formations and make it almost impossible to engage in tactical play? Moreover, why should I be concerned with strategy and tactics when I have such a limited capacity to impact the course of engagement? After spending a dozen hours playing Realms of Ruin, I came to the realization that I just did not possess any interest in anything.

In ruins, the realms

The armies of Tzeentch, the Daemon of Change, are my all-time favorite, and they are the ones that have managed to keep their tabletop flavor throughout the years. Their focus on streaming ranged assaults, screening with inexpensive cultists and heavy daemons, and an unforgiving economy that forces you to seek out Flamers of Tzeentch as quickly as possible are all factors that contribute to their competitive nature. Two of the four factions, the horde-like Nighthaunt of Nagash and the tricky Uruk-hai-inspired Kruleboy orcs, didn’t grab me in quite the same way—each faction favors a specific playstyle, and Realms of Ruin’s awkward movement mechanics did these unorthodox armies, which rely on tight formations and ability micro-management, no favors.

Even Warhammer’s lamest setting still has some cool stuff going on, like the crunchy combat animations—Stormcast Eternals, who are quite literally space marines from Warhammer 40,000 but with magic, throw their whole bodies into their hammer and ax swings, tossing out elbows and fists on the backswing. The Nighthaunt, which is reminiscent of the Nazgul, is a troublesome cloud of death essence, fabric, and swords that capture the sweeping movements of the magnificent tabletop sculptures. The Lord of Change, a giant daemonic cockatrice that discharges waves of iridescent power in waves that are the size of tsunamis, was by far and away my favorite.

There is also an army painter in Realms of Ruin. Not only are there choices for all of the official alternative army schemes that are shown in each separate faction’s battletome, but you can also create your own army schemes, replete with the entire spectrum of colors from the Citadel paint line.

On the other hand, I really wish that Realms of Ruin had taken some inspiration from the PC skirmish game Moonbreaker. In order to provide a more genuine replica of the experience of playing tabletop wargames, it would be beneficial to have options for adding texture, shading, highlighting, and weathering.

The Conquest mode, which is a procedurally created campaign that ties AI skirmish engagements together over a campaign map and has randomized modifiers to content with, was the one that I found myself most involved with. Although the ones I came across were not particularly alarming, Realms of Ruin’s inadequacies were covered up by modifiers such as immediate recruiting times and movement speeds that were increased by fifty percent. Conquest, in contrast to the campaign or the multiplayer mode, provided me with the opportunity to experiment with novel combinations of units and army compositions. The most enjoyable aspect of the game for me was determining how far I could go with an army list that said, “Oops, all Pink Horrors!” It turned out that I didn’t get very far at all.

Taking a step back from its exquisite combat animations, Realms of Ruin is an uncomfortable and confusing real-time strategy game that, in the end, lacks the trademark gloomy darkness that has long served as the basis for Warhammer’s artistic style. My patience was put to the test by the peculiar battle mechanics and the perplexing balance, and for someone like me who is a die-hard fan of Warhammer, I am extremely used to having my patience tried. By beginning an Immortal Empires campaign in Total War: Warhammer 3 and setting the level to easy, you may have a more satisfying casual Warhammer real-time strategy game experience.

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