Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin Review

If I were to write a love letter to a game developer, then Frontier Developments would be near the top of the list for recipients. This decade alone they have released some absolute bangers, titles such as F1 Manager, Jurassic World and Zoo Tycoon will go down as some of my favourite games. And now they added Warhammer to their growing list of franchises.

I’ve been hesitant about getting into Warhammer for a very long time; as a kid I used to pear inside the window of the local Warhammer store, looking on in envy as people were gathered inside, showing off their custom painted miniatures. When it came to the video games, I was also hesitant as reading peoples reviews, they would comment about the lore and how you need to know the history of Warhammer if you wanted to understand what was going on.

But now with one of my trusted developers Frontier on the case, I felt now was the right time to jump into the Warhammer universe with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin.   

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin is a real time strategy game, one of my favourite genres, that has 4 different modes for you to try out, all of which I’ll go into more detail in below. First and foremost, we have Single player, and there are two modes to sink your teeth into here, first being the campaign. The campaign, in a word, is awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such good cinematics in an RTS game, they genuinely took me by surprise, and I had to double check that this was indeed an RTS game.

There are 18 chapters in total for you to conquer in the campaign, each chapter has challenged as well and with 4 difficulties there’s plenty of excuse for replayability. There are 4 different factions in Realms of Ruin, all of which you get the play as in the campaign, so if you don’t like playing as one faction then you won’t have to for long.

An RTS game wouldn’t be complete without an offline skirmish mode and Realms of Ruin doesn’t disappoint. You can go with either 1v1 or 2v2 action, there are 15 maps for 1v1 and 5 for 2vs2. You’re not just limited to these options though as you can download and play the self-made or community made maps from the workshop which we’ll touch on more later. The only thing which the skirmish mode lacks, which all RTSs do, is the ability to watch a match where the AI can battle each other. A option like this could open the door for even more replayability, the thought of seeing who would come out on top if you started a match with a team of AI on medium difficulty against a team that has one on easy and one hard on a map that I created, is a salivating prospect.

Another must have for an RTS is online multiplayer, Casual 1v1 and 2v2 as well as a ranked 1v1 can be played so if you fancy pitting yourself against the Realms of Ruin community, you can. One interesting aspect here is that you can also spectate other people’s matches.

Next we move onto Conquest. Another offline mode that has procedurally generated maps, your main goal is to crush the enemy on the way to the final battle. Most of the battles, including the final overlord map have twists in them, which can affect both yourself and the enemy you face on the map. From decreasing or increasing units’ health or damage dealt to affecting how fast units can be summoned, Conquest mode is a breakaway from the story to add even more spice to the offline offering. I started my conquest over several times and not once got the same map, be careful though as you only get a certain number of ‘lives’ depending on what difficulty chose you, so if you’re brave (unlike me) and decide to try and conquer the conquest map on the hardest difficulty you only get one try – fail, and it’s over!

The final mode we have is the ‘create’ tab. There are 4 options to play around with here. There’s the workshop for you download or upload any created maps. You can customise your army livery’s here, so if you want to take your own uniquely coloured army into battle in skirmishes, conquests, or online multiplayer with hundreds of options available, you certainly can. Your army loadout is here as well, each faction has distinct units and you can change the look of certain units, some of which can be unlocked by playing through the campaign.

The meaty bit here though is the map editor. I mentioned earlier about being able to play on your own maps or those made by the community. This is where you can get your juices flowing, you can create your own maps from scratch if you wish, but if your creatives juices aren’t as great like me, two example maps are there for you to play around with. Not only that but you have the option of making any maps you make editable, so once again if you don’t have those creative juices then you can borrow them from the community.

I’ve just realised that I’ve been sitting here typing this and I haven’t even mentioned the gameplay or what the factions you can use are! I’ll start with the factions, as mentioned earlier there are 4, we have The Stormcast Eternals, the good guys! They are demigods, charged with returning hope to the war-ravaged mortal realms. Next up is Kruleboyz who are bunch of no good Orrucks who like nothing more than to cause destruction. Our third faction is the Disciples of Tzeentch, these are disciples and demons who pledge allegiance to Tzeentch, the chaos god of change. Lastly, we have the Nighthaunt faction, they are a tortured spirit host of damned souls, united in a war against the living by the great necromancer Nahash. Each faction has their strengths and weaknesses and are fun to play as.

And so lastly onto gameplay, and as is a common problem with playing RTS games on console, despite their best-efforts controls can still a tad complicated. One wrong click can have devastating results. Despite this they are up there with what Age of Empires did with controller accessibility, but I fear that console players with never truly have the same experience as a PC player when it comes to RTS games.

The maps you play on in campaign are beautifully crafted which give you plenty of options on how you want to approach each battle, and with the ability to zoom right in, you can watch the battles unfold as they take place as if you were standing there yourself. The only real negative is that if you have subtitles on the box can get in the way of the action or cut scene. One last thing I will mention is the voice acting, as once again I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.  

Conclusion

With the release of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin, Frontier now has two games released this year that will be in contention for my GOTY. There is so much to do, and Realms of Ruin will keep fans of Warhammer and RTS games busy for a long, long time with Frontier proving you CAN have quality and quality in a video game if done right.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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Good
  • Stunning Visuals
  • Tons of repayable content to get stuck into
  • Great cinematic campaign
  • Map editor
  • Conquest mode
Bad
  • Controls are predictably complicated for console
  • Subtitle box can get in the way
9.3
Excellent
Written by
I first got my hands on a gaming console in ‘91 with the NES and haven’t looked back since, playing on a variety of consoles and PCs over the years. Once a year you will also find me doing a trilogy play through of either Mass Effect or Dragon Age.

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