updated 03:43 pm EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Mass Effect developer working on a co-op action-RPG game with a focus on story
Bioware, the game developer behind some of the most popular role-playing games (RPS) in the last 15 years including Mass Effect and Baldur's Gate, revealed details about its next game during GamesCom this week. What started out as a cryptic series of trailers featuring people stuck in nightmares has turned out to be a call to co-op action in Shadow Realms.
Shadow Realms has its roots set in the tabletop experience found in creative adventure games like Dungeons & Dragons, according to Bioware's James Ohlen. Building on the company's history of developing games with a deep story, Bioware was able to incorporate many aspects of tabletop gaming except one, the dungeon master. In Shadow Realms, Ohlen says that company is attempting to change that by creating a four versus one co-op game, with a story that never ends.
"Shadow Realms isn't just hearkening back to those early Bioware PC games -- it's finally bringing the magic of tabletop RPGs to the digital realm," said Ohlen.
The RPG game will allow players to take one of seven different roles. The dungeon master takes on the role of the Shadowlord, a figure that wants to destroy Earth and the ancient fantasy world of Embra. Unlike a traditional dungeon master, Shadowlords will roam the battlefield instead of sitting behind a screen and depending on dice rolls. Instead, the player will interact with the world, progressing and customizing their character the same as the other characters.
Shadowlords are unseen unless they cast certain spells, possess monsters or choose to be revealed. Players control them through the same third-person camera the opposing players use. How much influence they will have over the story, if any, has yet to be detailed. Bioware did indicate that content in Shadow Realms would be released episodically.
Gamers going against the Shadowlord are able to choose from six different classes, including Cleric, Ranger, Wizard, Assassin, Warlock and Warrior. Each of the classes have specific abilities to the class, but still utilize combat that would be at home in a fast-paced, hack-and-slash style game. The classes represent the most powerful abilities found on Earth and Embra.
Bioware is currently taking signups for a closed alpha of Shadow Realms, set for this fall. Dallas Dickinson says that Bioware is looking to be open and transparent in the development process, while getting players involved early on. Shadow Realms is expected to be released in 2015 on PC.