8Realms is a browser-based real time strategy game from Jagex, the folks behind hugely popular MMO RuneScape. You’re tasked with guiding a civilisation through eight eras of history by gathering materials, upgrading your buildings and researching new technologies. Armies are important too, particularly when barbarians are at the gates of your carefully-cultivated stronghold. As your society evolves from the sticks and stones of the Ancient Age to the laser cannons and mechanical walkers of the Future, you’ll compete with other players to build the biggest wonders and claim the most resources.
It’s not all competitive, though. Future updates including guilds (known as ‘Societies’) and raids will encourage cooperative play, allowing players to involve themselves in the action however they see fit.
8Realms has a cheery cartoon look and is based on a grid system, so it’s easy to see at a glance what options for expansion are available to you. A thorough tutorial walks you through the first few steps of founding your civilisation. You’re accompanied throughout by Gary, a hapless advisor who pops up to steer you toward features you might not have spotted yet. Completing the tasks laid out for you wins you extra resources, allowing you to be more and more creative with the design of your settlement.
It’s designed to be played on almost any device with an internet connection, and the game is the same on each - making it a portable game as well. It also supports a range of playstyles, from extended sessions to quick blasts. An additional resource, Gems, can be purchased for real-world cash and used to increase your building or research capacity and to instantly complete projects - useful if you want to see everything the game has to offer but can’t commit the time. There’s nothing you can buy that you can’t earn, however, so free players shouldn’t feel like they’re missing out: it’ll just take them a bit longer.
If you like, you can play 8Realms as a hardcore competitive game with the goal of being the most powerful civilisation on the server - but it’s just as valid to concentrate on feathering your own nest and building the nation you have in your head. The game operates on a system of server cycles: when the end of the Future Age is reached, the game resets, creating a level playing field for every player.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, we’ve arranged an entry deal for GamesRadar readers. By entering into the game on our exclusive access key, you’ll earn yourself a free VIP account, a GamesRadar flag for your empire, and £3 worth of Gems - as well as a boost to your military might in the early stages of the game.