During EA’s Gamescom conference this morning, Bioware revealed the secret project they’ve been teasing over the last few weeks.
In development by the developer’s Austin studio, Shadow Realms is a multiplayer-only action RPG featuring 4 v 1 gameplay. Small teams of humans band together to fight demonic lords, who are able to soften the group with various traps, minions and other abilities before entering into combat themselves.
According to the press release sent out after the conference, “In Shadow Realms, Modern Heroes on Earth are being awakened and recruited, because of magical powers they never knew they had, to fight in a new and dangerous war against the Shadow Legions of Embra. The Shadow Legions, who have been battling on Embra for years against the members of the Radiant Empires, have gained new strength with the coming of a powerful, unknown force that we call the Shadowlords. And, they have just figured out how to leave Embra and invade Earth.”
Though primarily an action-based experience, it was promised that the story will still feature heavily, making use of Bioware’s trademark branching narrative and morality-based decision making. No two playthroughs of an area will be the same, apparently – a lofty claim that we’ve heard plenty of times in the past, but which has never quite stood up to scrutiny. Players can align themselves with good or evil, and plenty of character customization was promised for both human characters and the demonic Shadow Lord.
Content will episodic, and while no mention was made of the business model being used, the signs point to the game being a free-to-play title.
“This game brings us back to our roots in the realm of classic Pen and Paper RPG, but also delivers something that’s completely new and innovative for our fans,” said Jeff Hickman, General Manager and Vice President at BioWare Austin. “Shadow Realms is a new BioWare RPG that has the hallmarks of all BioWare games with a rich story, a unique world setting and deep combat progression, but built as an interactive experience that evolves the genre and broadens the appeal to online gamers all over the world.”
Shadow Realms will be released on PC sometime next year (no other platforms were mentioned), though players can sign up for the Closed Alpha now by heading over to the official website.
A handful of screenshots have been released too, giving a “very early” look at some of the game’s environments and character designs.