When we first got a look at Ironclad's Sins of a Dark Age (opens in new tab) , the developer underscored its intent to distinguish itself from competitors League of Legends and Dota 2 with by integrating an RTS role into its MOBA—the Commander. It was an insane idea, but we liked the thought of a game coming to the genre with a different focus, and we were confident Ironclad's experience making one of our favorite strategy games ever would help them pull it off.
Ironclad's vision involved introducing controllable minion characters through the Commander role which a single player on each team assumed to boss around swarms of soldiers. But after nearly a full year's worth of development and testing, the Commander system is being phased out. In its place: Realm Quests, a change-up from RTS to more of a MOBA-RPG hybrid.
As playable Heroes clash in PvP battles, they'll also receive PvE tasks demanding the same level of teamwork and coordination as Dark Age's MOBA skirmishes. Meeting certain conditions triggers an AI “Quest Director” to create special events throughout the world, and participating is a chance for special rewards or a harmful effect on the enemy.
“The reason we think it's a more natural fit," says the game's producer, Blair Fraser, "is it's really expanding on the RPG aspects of MOBAs, where MOBAs are kind of that RPG/RTS. That's kind of the initial seed. We've cut out the RTS expansion and we're improving on and expanding the RPG aspects. One of the most natural things that you think of in RPGs is doing quests."
Dark Age currently sits in closed beta, but you can join in by purchasing one of three Founder edition pre-order tiers priced at $25, $55, and $125. All three packages nets you closed beta access, a starting purse of Dark Age's Crown currency, exclusive badges, a starting Hero roster, and special skins and icons. Head to the official website (opens in new tab) for ordering and more info on the differences between each version.
To learn more about Realm Quests, we asked Ironclad co-founder Blair Fraser about the team's attempt at mixing genres, the substantial competition from other MOBAs, and the developer's hopes for distinguishing itself from the pack. Read the interview on the next page .