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Battle Royale games have really taken the world by storm. Naturally, this means that every developer that even thinks about shooters is racing to Scrooge McDuck themselves into the Fortnite money bin before it all inevitably dries up. So, does Hi-Rez’s attempt stand out, or is it just another cash-in?

Realm Royale is the latest incarnation of Hi-Rez’s attempts to throw their hat into the BR ring. The game began as Paladins Battlegrounds, featuring that game’s roster as its focal point. After a series of issues with the game’s open beta period, Hi-Rez took a step back and began retooling the experience. Now known as Realm Royale, the new stand-alone game still features Paladins map elements and aesthetic, but none of the characters.

Visually, the game is impressive. I have always been a fan of Paladins’ aesthetic, and this game manages to take that style and spread it across a massive island. The game’s sound design is also great. Directional audio works flawlessly, although the default audio levels might blow your eardrums out. Speaking of directional audio, you will want a headset that can properly create this effect if you want to get serious with this game. Being able to hear where things are happening will be essential to staying alive.

The game replaces the Paladins roster with five new character classes. Each of these classes has access to their own weapon sets and abilities, as well as a unique passive. Warriors regenerate 5 HP per second. Assassins have faster ground movement speed. Hunters can swap weapons and reload faster than other classes. Engineers generate 5 armor per second. Finally, potions used by mages are 10 percent more effective.

The classes themselves aren’t the only things that make Realm Royale feel unique. Scattered around the map are forges where you can craft legendary potions, armor, abilities, and weapons. Each cost shards, which you get from dismantling items and abilities you find but don’t want to use. Weapons, the most expensive craft-able item, also cost food which you can only get by killing other players. It’s not enough to pay the cost, however. Forges make a lot of noise, and most items take roughly 60 seconds to craft. You’ll have to defend it from other players if you want to keep what you’ve made. If a crafted item remains uncollected for a full minute, it will be fair game to other players.

The flow of gameplay beyond the crafting elements is standard fare, however. You’re dropped onto an island, you hunt down gear and abilities, and you fight to the death. The fog closes in at set intervals, shrinking the playing field and forcing you into engagements.

One of my favorite parts of the game is that it retains the accuracy of guns in Paladins. In Fortnite, guns have a natural shot spread that, while technically realistic, can be frustrating in the context of a video game. Here, shots are as tight and consistent as they are in Paladins, and it gives combat a nice, tight feel. If a player downs you, or vice versa, the downed player becomes a chicken. If you can survive until the on-screen timer reaches 0, you’ll pop back up with half health. Unlike Fortnite, your squad-mates cannot revive you. They can protect you though, so make sure you engage as a group for the best chance of survival.

Right now, Realm Royale only features Duo and Squad modes. I’ve reached out to Hi-Rez to discuss their plans for modes and character customization but haven’t heard back yet. Once I’m able to get some answers or land an interview, we’ll post an update to

Just as a word of caution, I’d like to stress that Realm Royale is in an alpha testing phase right now. With that said, there are a few issues that can make the game more of a challenge than it should be. First and foremost, there are pockets of stuttering and rollback that can cost you fights. These only happened to me a few times, but it was frustrating to deal with every time. Characters also randomly t-pose and remain in t-pose while they do everything. This means you cannot see what weapons they are holding and plan accordingly. These problems, while frustrating, are intermittent at worst and hardly compare to Realm Royale’s biggest issue: server stability.

In more than a few matches, I have lost connection while loading into class selection. The game has also stranded me on the pre-game map for the duration of an entire game multiple times. I’ve even joined into a match already half-over and auto-dropped onto the pre-game map and trapped, forcing my client to crash. It’s incredibly frustrating to have a game as fresh and interesting as Realm Royale plagued with issues that keep you from playing it. Hi-Rez is aware of these issues though, and they’re working to fix them as quickly as possible.

These issues aside, Realm Royale is fun. Even more important than that, it feels different. Online gaming is over-crowded with clones and knock-offs; with that said, Realm Royale takes the Battle Royale formula and confidently twists it into something that is unique and refreshing. Hi-Rez has combined the best elements of Paladins, Battle Royale games, and MMO-style crafting into one confident, stylish, and insanely fun experience. If you’re a fan of either Paladins and Battle Royale games, then this is going to quickly become your new favorite. If you can stay connected, that is.

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