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Frontier's Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Realms Of Ruin RTS hits PC on November 17th

The ghostly Nighthaunt also revealed as the third playable faction

A skeleton paddles a boat in Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Realms Of Ruin
Image credit: Frontier Developments

Mark your calendars for November 17th, strategy fans, as that's when Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Realms Of Ruin is heading to PC - the same day as Atlus' Persona 5 Tactica, don't you know? Announced at tonight's Gamescom Opening Night Live show, Frontier Developments also showed off the game's new single-player Conquest mode, a procedurally generated series of challenges that will pit players against increasingly unpredictable combat scenarios, as well as its third playable faction: the wraith-like Nighthaunt. They'll be going up against the Stormcast Eternals alongside the Orruk Kruleboyz in the game's campaign, and I got to see them in action ahead of tonight's showcase. And I can confirm: they're a nasty bunch of spectral rags, this lot, especially when they pile on in large numbers.

The Nighthaunt are quite a different prospect from the Orruks, preferring to attack en masse in big ghosty gangs. Frontier have confirmed you'll be able to command Chainrasps, Myrmourn Banshees, Grimghast Reapers, Hexwraiths, the Mourngul and more in multiplayer, including the skeletal ferryman himself Awlrach The Drowner (that chap in the header image). Awlrach, alas, didn't make an appearance during my campaign preview, but I did have to fend off hordes of the aforementioned Chainrasps, Grimghast Reapers and Craventhrone Guards during the mission.

The Stormcast Eternals fight against The Nighthaunt in a dark battlefield in Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Realms Of Ruin
A suitably spooky setting for your first encounter with the Nighthaunt. | Image credit: Frontier Developments

They come pouring out of the ether when the Stormcast Eternals attempt to remove a special artefact from an altar, an artefact the Stormcast believe will help them repel the Orruks from their ailing fortress home, but which the Nighthaunt would rather keep for themselves. The main objective in this mission is to defend your priest Demechrios as he attempts to break the giant chains that have sealed the artefact away, all while capturing and controlling three chain pedestal points to aid his purification rites. With your focus split between different areas of the map, this frantic 'hold the line' mission was great fun, especially as it let you get to grips a bit more with the processes of upgrading your economy.

As in multiplayer, you'll need to capture conduit points on each campaign map to keep your army fed with units, and keep your two main currencies topped up (Realmstones and Command points). Losing these conduits can put a serious halt to your production line, so you'll need to keep these defended as well, either with troops stationed nearby, or by building certain bastions on them, which the enemy forces will also need to destroy before they can claim these points for their own.

Two armies fight in a dark battlefield next to some very large glowing chains in Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Realms Of Ruin
Here's one of those Shyishian Chain Pedestals you'll need to defend in the campaign. | Image credit: Frontier Developments

With so many points to defend and capture during this mission, dividing up your army is key here, and I found it quite thrilling to always have my attention being pulled in different directions. It keeps tension levels nice and high, and as the mission progressed and key milestones were hit in the big Shyishian Chains meter at the top of the screen, I also liked how the camera angles kept changing to shake up your perspective and sense of command over the battlefield. It was like the ghosts were playing tricks on you a bit, briefly disorienting you before you got your bearings again to continue the assault.

It was certainly a lot more fun than the preceding mission (which I also got to play in this pre-Gamescom session), which was a real tug-of-war effort with the Orruk Kruleboyz. With Orruks continually waddling out of portals dotted around the map and the three main capture points situated much further apart than this Nighthaunt map, keeping these protected was a real war of attrition, and my enthusiasm did start to flag slightly when I got to the 45-minute mark and still couldn't manage to hold onto all three for long enough to secure an outright victory. Admittedly, some of the game's more advanced systems, such as increasing your population cap and unlocking more advanced units, were still locked off in this mission - it being just mission two in the entire campaign - so some of that chaffing was because I just wanted to get stuck in with everything the game had to offer, only to be thwarted by its otherwise very steady and evenly-paced tutorial.

Still, having now played the first three of its campaign missions (I got to sample the first one at the same time as its multiplayer), Realms Of Ruin just keeps marching higher and higher on my most wanted list. If the rest of the campaign can keep up that sense of variety in its missions and objective types, upping the ante at just the right moment to keep you on your toes, and using its camera in interesting ways to continually reframe the battlefield and shake things up even further, then this could well be one of the most exciting real-time strategy games of the year. And thankfully, we don't have too long to wait for the full thing now. November 17th can't come soon enough.

For more of the latest news and previews from Gamescom 2023, head to our Gamescom 2023 hub. You can also find everything announced at Opening Night Live right here.

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