Coming from the studio which created one of the most popular free MMORPG’s – Runescape – Jagex Game Studios certainly know a few things about creating captivating, enjoyable and above all, free video games so their entry into the MMORTS (massively multiplayer real time strategy) genre is bound to capture some attention. In this special preview, I got to sit down and try the intriguing 8Realms for myself.

World Overview

The World Map gives you a view of other peoples cities also

In 8Realms your main goal is to cultivate and nurture your civilization from what is essentially the Stone Age through to Modern Day. Now I’ll come right out and say it – this idea may not be brand new but with 8Realms it is presented in a very charming way so you cannot help but feel endeared towards it.

During my playthrough I started with a small collection of buildings on the isometric grid-board and had to build various structures as I worked through the tutorial. This taught me the basics of the game, which structures did what, how to build military units, that kind of thing.

Ancient Settlement

As with many other city-builders, you must start in the Ancient Era

Again there was a certain charm about 8Realms that almost compelled me to continue playing, I worked through the first portion of the tutorial and had to wait for several Farms to be constructed – these are constructed in real time (roughly 5 minutes I believe) which is helpful as this timer also clicks down if you are not logged into the game, so if you needed to begin a large research project you could set it up, start it and then leave the game to continue on it’s own.

Much like its predecessors in the RTS playground, 8Realms has you moving through the different ages at certain points of the game, once you have reached a certain level of advancement, the era changes. Moving from Ancient Era to Modern Era forces you to change certain tactics and helps to keep things fresh. This also helps in giving you the impression you are actually achieving something in-game. There is never a long wait before an era change which helps in maintaining flow in an otherwise sometimes exasperating genre.

Modern Settlement

Moving through 8Realms you find yourself building more and more advanced buildings

Graphically – 8Realms is what you would expect from a browser based title, whilst it may have simplified graphics the visuals are nicely presented and not without a certain amount of cartoon allure.

Interface wise (a vital ingredient for all RTS’s and MMO’s) 8Realms is set out as you would expect if you have ever played a game like this before – your resource management information is in the top right corner, your task notification area is bundeled into a neat little Windows-esque ‘8’ button in the bottom left on the screen and across the top are different menu tabs to select, be it your Map, Tasks, Research or Friends.

Research Screen

The Tech-tree offers you various upgrades and new buildings.

8Realms is a game that feels designed to be played primarily in the background of your internet browsing, and that’s where it’s happiest. Sitting behind my other tabs and windows waiting for my next command or on my second screen whilst I write up my eventual plans for world domination on my primary screen.

Whilst being involving, it’s not a demanding title – Jagex have condensed the extensiveness of full scale RTS’s into an easily manageable ‘app’ of sorts for the casual player and enthusiast alike. 8Realms has real charm and appeal – it easily has the necessary potential to become the ‘go-to’ choice for the MMORTS genre.