Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin Review — The Faint Echo of a Promising Battlecry

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin has some great ideas, but feels like the developers came just short of executing on them in a satisfying way.
Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Realms Of Ruin Featured

When it comes to Warhammer, I consider myself a fantasy fan above all else. That is the classic Warhammer Fantasy, which many call The Old World, featuring such big names as Malekith, Tyrion and Teclis, Vlad and Isabella von Carstein, and Tzarina Katarin, among others. This is all thanks to the Total War: Warhammer series of games, which took my modest interest in Warhammer 40k and introduced me to a similar yet far more exciting world, one which was spectacularly brought back to life decades after what was considered to be the death of the franchise.

When it comes to Age of Sigmar, I never really considered myself a fan. The reboot of the failed Warhammer Fantasy franchise never appealed much to me due to its high fantasy over the original, while making some questionable choices when recycling some of my favorite characters. However, I was nonetheless excited for Realm of Ruin. I fancy a lot of Age of Sigmar’s design choices, and considering how video games made me a Warhammer Fantasy fan, I figured a great Age of Sigmar game could do the same, and the advertising for Realm of Ruin seemed to suggest it would be that game.

I am therefore disappointed to say that Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin didn’t live up to my expectations. It is far from a terrible game. It has some shining potential that I hope to highlight in this review.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Realms Of Ruin Batlte
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The first thing I jumped into when I got Realm of Ruin, and arguably the feature I was the most excited for, was the map creator. This tool was advertised as a powerful creation engine with abundant player freedom, allowing you to make a phenomenally detailed custom map to host your Realm of Ruin battles on.

While you can certainly do a lot with the map creation tool, it is held back by some strange choices, keeping it from being the truly impressive feature it could be.

For starters, the map creation mode, for some reason I can’t possibly fathom, limits you to the asset pools you can bring into a new map. Placeable models like rocks, trees, buildings, and so forth are organized into different categories based on things like which faction or environment they belong to, and you can only bring four or five into a map you’re creating. Why you can’t simply use all these assets on one map baffles me.

The amount of assets you can use on a map is also limited, with a cap of 10,000 objects included in a given custom level. This is pretty generous, but I imagine some detail-oriented scene builders could easily exceed this limit and be left wanting.

Some simple quality-of-life options are also missing from the map creator, such as hotkeys and options to speed up the process of placing many objects. Putting a single object on the screen can be a time-consuming process, thanks to how the tools are designed, and I highly doubt this is how the game devs designed levels for the game. Isn’t that what the ideal map-designing mini-game should be? Just the tools the game’s environmental devs used, imported directly into the editor?

Regardless of these limitations, it’s still a pretty good tool, and I had fun building my own scenes with it, even if it could be better.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Realms Of Ruin Custom Map
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

“Could be better” is how I’d also describe the game’s actual gameplay. Realm of Ruin’s small unit tactic RTS gameplay is passable but feels bare-bones and unexciting. Units follow a combat triangle system (sword beats shield, which beats bow, which beats sword) and have one or two abilities, many of which are shared across factions, such as charging being the one ability of every sword-type unit. Commanders offer some variety with more abilities, and some factions have larger unit rosters than others.

More unit variety is something desperately needed. This is not only true of factions with fewer overall units than the others, but Stormcast Eternals and Chainwraiths feeling the same in combat (aside from stats) is a strange oversight on the developer’s part. The lack of unit variety would have been more forgivable in a game with more factions, but with only four available at the moment, it’s pretty unforgivable.

The game shines in its story and cutscenes, which are good and remarkable to watch. As a single-player experience, Realm of Ruin is a solid experience, but in a game like this, campaign mode can only take you so far.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Realms Of Ruin Cutscene
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

A roguelike secondary experience is also present, which is a phenomenal idea for a game like this. A randomly generated campaign map where each battle has different twists and rules is a great way to keep an RTS alive. Unfortunately, this mode lacks depth when it comes to these twists, and the experience is still held back by the gameplay itself.

Another promising yet disappointing feature was the army painter, which was pretty hyped up in the trailers as well. I can honestly say that Dawn of War: Soulstorm, a game from the 2000s, had a more in-depth unit painter. While full of outstanding colors, the Realm of Ruin’s army painter restricts access to them based on which unit you’re painting and which part of it you’re coloring. Again, why not just have all the options available for each piece? Are you afraid players are going to make their armies look bad? Isn’t the point of an army painter to give them that choice in the first place?

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Realms Of Ruin Paint
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The game also features an unforgivable amount of day-one DLC, but that’s to be expected of Warhammer games by this point. It is Games Workshop, after all, who charge 7.99 for a thimble’s worth of paint.

The Final Word

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin has great ideas. It simply fumbles in the execution. While free from any bugs (at least in my time with the game) or major unforgivable flaws, it simply fails to hold your attention, offering the idea of cool mechanics without ever really delivering.

7

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm of Ruin is available on Steam and Epic Games.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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