‘Realm Royale’ Mixes ‘Overwatch’ With ‘Fortnite’ to Combat Battle Royale Fatigue

The Battle Royale genre has exploded. Understatement of the year. The phrase “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” is no longer synonymous with ‘Depression-era alley craps’, but has transformed into an instantly recognizable victory cry heard across the world. Naturally then, when something pulls in this much attention, inspired clones appear. Whilst Fortnite is now the household name, it was PUBG’s success that led Epic to include a ‘Battle Royale’ mode in their previously base-defence focused zombie shooter, and the rest is history.

And yet, whilst they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, developers and publishers have already turned the cheek and bared their litigious teeth. PUBG Corp. has since dropped out of its case against Fortnite creators Epic Games, but not before claiming they were  “replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”

Room for one more in this Royale?

The murky fog that currently casts over the ‘Big Two’ is thick, and whilst they compete against each other to keep the hype alive, developers outside of the bubble are looking to innovate in unexpected ways whilst capitalizing on the trend. Enter stage left, Realm Royale. Previously known as Paladins: Battlegrounds, the new and improved, SEO-friendly shooter is spun out of the successful free-to-play Overwatch clone Paladins: Champions Of The Realm.

Despite being a clone of a clone, spun off from a clone, Realm Royale does actually flip the switch on typical Battle Royale gameplay, painting RPG and survival elements onto the palatable canvas. With its cartoon adjacent art style and a wide variety of weapons, Realm Royale certainly has more Fortnite DNA than PUBG, but it still manages to distance itself from the competition with clever gameplay hooks that ask probing questions about what a Battle Royale game should be.

The key formula change is in the addition of a class system, which functions similarly to the one seen in Overwatch. Before the start of every game, instead of hitting the Shoot dance or throwing apples, players have to choose between five predefined loadouts: Warrior, Mage, Assassin, Hunter and Engineer. Each class comes with a special weapon affinity and a passive perk that grants ground speed or armour per second among others, but the real meat is found in the four abilities.

A new Class of multiplayer games

The medieval theme and class-based gameplay helps make 'Realm Royale' standout from the big two of the genre.

You can only map two of these abilities at a time, creating a tactical layer to your loadout. Trapped in the mid-game and feeling weak? Simply swap your skills and optimize your playstyle by opening loot chests. As a consequence of this, squads are forced to think about pre-game team composition in a manner very similar to Overwatch. Organizing your team of four demands communication in order to cover every base and focus on individual strengths.

A squad full of Warriors will be great for buffs with their designated Shielding and Healing Potions but may fall prey to a more diverse team that boasts the deployable turret of the Engineer and the covert positioning of an Assassin. Elsewhere, the Hunter is the perfect class for squads looking to set traps and snipe from the shadows. Her Proximity Mine and Flare skills allow players to notify their team of approaching attackers, whilst her Blast Shot can deal devastating damage if caught off-guard.

Perhaps the most diverse and interesting class is the Mage, a useful component of any team. Soaring in the air, Mages can rain hellfire from above with their Explosive Flask and Fireball skills. Yet, when you’re in the final moments of the match acting on the defensive, their skillset switches to that of ice queen Mei, and the Mage can freeze herself in ice to regain some health or put up a crucial wall between her team and the opposing force.

Verticality Royale

The dedicated movement skills in Realm Royale also offer a unique change of pace. Where PUBG and Fortnite are lacking in verticality and high-speed combat, Realm Royale has it in droves. Mages can soar into the air and Assassins can blink towards enemies in a fashion evocative of the powers found in the Dishonored franchise. Even the Hunter’s Dark Souls-esque roll is potent in the middle of combat when used correctly.

The fluid movement combined with the smaller than usual map creates an interesting new dynamic. First, air-to-ground from the plane is near instant and crossing the map is easy thanks to the addition of a mount for the player. This creates hectic gameplay where squads are consistently rolling on your position, regardless of where you are on the map. There are no designated ‘safety zones’ where you can be sure other players won’t arrive. This creates an intense atmosphere and forces you to be constantly vigilant.

The geography of Realm Royale is later made tactical by the addition of the Forge, small crafting spots dotted around the map where players can use shards they collect by deconstructing useless items to craft legendary armour, weapons and skills. King of the hill engagements become commonplace as you attempt to defend compounds to ensure your squad can cook up the scarce loot, which takes time to craft. This style of base defence play is clearly influenced by modes like Control within Overwatch but surprisingly, works seamlessly within the confines of the Battle Royale.

No harm no fowl

Instead of death instantly locking you out of the game like in 'PUBG' or 'Fortnite' 'Realm Royale' has you roaming the battlefield as a chicken.

When you do eventually fall, the greatest twist is revealed. Players don’t die or stay put when they’re put down in Realm Royale, no. In fact, you’re turned into a chicken and must spend time clucking around the battlefield, dashing to safety. The model is far more adrenaline-pumping than crawling on your knees, meaning being downed isn’t as much of a ‘sitting duck’ situation as previously seen.

If you do manage to escape a squad of poultry hunters you will eventually be reborn from your woeful state and allowed to get back into the action. This makes the final moments of each game a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Where its usually clear-cut peeking in an enclosed forest or quickly-crafted buildings that set the final players apart, Realm Royale offers a more absurd crescendo.

Is Realm Royale worth my time?

Games can be turned on their head at the drop of a hat if a player is allowed the space to return to the land of the living. It’s easy to forget about the respawn counter too if you’re in the heat of battle with another foe, especially considering the fast-paced aggressive nature of the close combat. Whilst the game is certainly still scrappy and progressing steadily through early access, it stakes its claim in the genre with compelling changes that are sure to delight players who are feeling fatigued by the gameplay in PUBG and Fortnite.

Specifically, for PUBG players who find Fortnite’s building tiresome and are overwhelmed by the realistic grit of Pochinki, Realm Royale is refreshing, providing all of the features that make Fortnite fun with some bold ideas thrown into the mix.

In short, Realm Royale is mad, malleable and completely free. While it has been available on PC for awhile, console players can finally dip their toes in too, with a closed beta of the game available on PS4 and Xbox now. Even if it ends up only as a game you play as a break from your other Battle Royale titles, this quirky medieval royale brings a swathe of new ideas and a goofy, absurd soul to multiplayer gaming.

A Blagger’s Guide To The ‘Overwatch’ League

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Engineered Garments Mixes Sportswear, Workwear & Military Influences for Barbour Collaboration

Following on from a reissued capsule with Vans, New York-based Engineered Garments is back with another collaboration. Teaming up with BarbourDaiki Suzuki‘s label has reworked pieces from the British brands archive with influences coming from American sportswear, workwear and functional military clothing.

The capsule consists of five different outerwear silhouettes — the Cowen, Dumbo, Parka, Graham and Cape — with each one constructed from waxed black waxed cotton with detailing in navy, black and olive. Standout pieces include the oversized parka, the Dumbo — a mix between an MA-1 bomber and a varsity jacket — and the Cape, which is an updated version of a military policeman’s cape. The full collection will release at Barbour’s London flagship on August 6, with prices ranging from £349 to £599 (approx. $ 460 USD to $ 795 USD).

In other fashion news, YSTRDY’S TMMRW just dropped its Fall/Winter 2018 lookbook.

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Ezinma mixes hip-hop and classical music to send a bold message about blackness

Ezinma mixes hip-hop and classical music to send a bold message about blackness

Ezinma mixes hip-hop and classical music to send a bold message about blackness

The hype of Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella performance was palpable even as I watched via grainy cell phone video. Millions of eyes fell on Queen Bey that night — but as the opening medley dipped into a poignant place with Beyoncé crooning the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” her musicians stole my focus. Eight string players framed her center stage. And they were all women of color.

As most of Bey’s army burst into fiery, marching band-inspired choreography, the string players maintained steady bow strokes and graceful swaying, anchoring the poignant hymn’s emotional core. One of the violinists that night was Ezinma: situated front-right, she stared boldly ahead as Beyoncé held a long note, thrusting her bow overhead like a torch. She told me earlier that the fact that she played among fellow musicians of color — when she herself did not meet any black string players until age 13 — was not lost on her.

“Up until then, I had never seen anyone who looks like me playing the violin,” she said of a pivotal summer music camp. “I didn’t realize how bizarre it was to not see anyone who looks like you when you’re doing something that you love so much.”

Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Like many New York City-based musicians, Ezinma’s art took her underground — literally. The first time I browsed her YouTube videos and found one shot on the W train, I gasped. As a former New Yorker, my initial question was, “How did she find an empty subway car?” Quickly, my focus veered elsewhere. Standing in the middle of the car, Ezinma (pronounced Eh-ZEE-ma) balanced as the train sped out of Canal Street station. The stunning violinist took four steps forward, gazed into the lens with a piercing swagger, and brought her instrument to her chin. Against a hypnotic beat, she performed a cover of Post Malone’s hip-hop banger “Rockstar.” It’s a surprising twist to hear the lyrics “I’ve been fuckin’ hoes and poppin’ pillies / Man, I feel just like a rockstar” replaced by Ezinma’s honeyed violin lines. As the song built, she seethed with a quiet, simmering energy. The butterscotch coils gathered atop her crown bounced with her movement; her painted fingernails flew across the strings. However, perhaps the most striking thing about Ezinma is her sound.

There’s a confidence to the violinist, producer, and composer’s performances that took root early on. “You don’t see a lot of little black girls playing the violin,” she told me. She spoke on a bus on the way back to Coachella for its second weekend, her voice low yet warm over the phone. “I think a part of me always felt a little bit detached, or as if I didn’t quite fit in.” Ezinma began violin at age four. Like me, she learned via the Suzuki Method, an international music curriculum designed with young children in mind. “I loved that I would put in the work and see results,” she recalled. Her biracial heritage exposed her to an eclectic world, like mine did. Growing up, cultural aspects from either side of my bloodline mingled as one; I didn’t realize for years that it was unnatural for Filipino lumpia to share a plate with Scandinavian kringle and sarmice, Serbian cabbage rolls. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska to professor parents — a black Guyanese father and a German-American mother — Ezinma cultivated passions for seemingly disparate music types. She played in school and youth orchestras and competed in junior classical competitions. But she also entered bluegrass fiddling contests. Her father, a big music fan, immersed her in funk, reggae, jazz, and Caribbean soca. Elsewhere, she soaked up hip-hop and trap, taking to artists like A$ AP Ferg and Beyoncé.

Johnny Nunez / Getty Images

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where being mixed-race is far from rare. For Ezinma, where the only other Guyanese person she knew just happened to live next door, things were different. “Especially being from Nebraska, I didn’t encounter very many non-white or non-Asian violinists until I was a teenager,” she told me. Ezinma said she often felt the need to defend her blackness. Some people — both black and white — were perplexed by her presence in an orchestra. There was a sense that this wasn’t “what black people do.”

One middle school experience was a pivotal lightbulb moment. As in most orchestras, one’s chair placement is important; stronger players sit closer to the conductor. After discovering that her teacher made her third chair, Ezinma was confused. “I went home and I was like, ‘Dad, I know I’m better than them,’” she said. Her father’s response opened her eyes: “People are not going to see you for what your talent is. People are going to see you for the way that you look…Because of that, you have to work so much harder than everyone else.” This convinced her to dispute her position. Discovering that her orchestra had a system for contesting such placements — à la the college marching band movie Drumline — she challenged the second chair to a blind test. They recorded themselves playing the same piece on cassette tapes. After, their peers judged and voted. “I won unanimously,” Ezinma said. She added that the process was positive; the girl she surpassed is still a friend. From there, she also challenged and won the first chair.

“I learned there is so much discrimination in ways that I wasn’t aware of as a kid. I was pretty naïve,” she said.

This assertive spirit drives much of Ezinma’s music-making today. At its core is a bold expression of her identity. There’s also a sense of declaring her right to create the music she wants — which, at first, is not quite what it seems. A closer listen to Ezinma’s hip-hop covers reveals that they’re not just string versions of Drake songs, but intricate arrangements born from classical training. Like her own identity, they blend myriad elements. In one video, she plays a catchy mashup of “Despacito” and “Shape of You,” nimbly switching between the first’s infectious Reggaeton melody and the second’s samba-inflected syncopation. In another, she revamps “Bodak Yellow” with an elegant lilt; the fierce jam becomes a lush orchestration. Like more musicians these days, where versatility is a smart career move, Ezinma is used to switching hats. She’s performed with Stevie Wonder, British pop group Clean Bandit, and Mac Miller. A conservatory graduate, she also plays plenty of classical gigs, and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Visibility is vital in classical music. While more crossover artists and musicians of color are emerging, there is still a gulf. According to a 2016 report by the Sphinx Organization, which aims to increase arts diversity, only 4.3% of American orchestra members are black or Latino. When Ezinma does youth outreach to schools and communities of color, she gives young players references, mentioning other artists to check out. It’s something she didn’t receive herself growing up. “At the time, I don’t think there was an awareness of how isolated a young person of color who’s learning a string instrument might feel,” she said.

With this lack of diversity in classical music, there’s a line wedged between classical and hip-hop. While it’s more common for chart-topping hits to meld several genre elements — folk, pop, funk, or dance — Ezinma still observes bewilderment and discomfort from some classical music fans about hip-hop, and vice versa. Tired stereotypes still exist: that classical music is “stuffy” or “boring,” while hip-hop is a “low-brow,” un-elevated art form — still marginalized in mainstream media. The divisions are ironic, Ezinma added, especially since hip-hop tracks that sample classical pieces can work on a sonic level. “It’s like, ‘Wow! This is such a proper, big orchestral sound,’” she said, citing artists like J. Cole and Meek Mill. “It just sounds epic.”

Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Ezinma makes a point to happily bridge what others view as separate, so it’s no surprise that her debut album, out August 11th, arose from her duality. Key of Black Minor opens a door between classical and hip-hop. In doing so, it’s also a symbolic declaration of Enzima’s biracial identity (“It’s really a celebration of my blackness,” she said). She sounds excited as she speaks, which is something I relate to. As someone who is often referred to in segments — as “half-Filipino” or “half-white,” as if I comprise only fragments of an identity — it’s affirming to see being biracial presented as an alloy. There isn’t a partition between my two “halves.” Despite the attention her YouTube trap covers have garnered, Ezinma said it was important to present this idea within her own compositions. Don’t expect classical spins on trap songs — she posited that fans may be surprised at how classical-heavy the 11 tracks are. “Putting out an album of covers might be more popular, but I think that the first thing that you present the world should be your own and yourself,” she said.

Ezinma’s two co-producers are Anthony Barfield and Orrin Wilson of Velocity Music. Like her, they are classical conservatory trained. Ezinma largely conceived and co-produced several tracks in hotel rooms while on tour, the three collaborating to create an organic hybrid. The album’s lodestone is her composition “Black Minor Symphony.” A nod to tradition, it follows the structure of a four-movement violin concerto. But it interweaves plenty of trap beats and unusual sounds. The last movement is a key example: It opens with a tempest of trilling violins and includes playful Mozart references. However, a hip-hop beat underpins everything. Another track is an homage to her “bluegrass head” mother. It’s a free-flowing fiddle piece galvanized with high-hats and 808s. The fusion makes it gel both in clubs and traditional concert venues, Ezinma insisted. Fans of one genre could leave with an appreciation for the other. Her music fusion is an ever-evolving process: she hopes to visit Guyana one day and explore its folk tunes to deepen her connection to her father’s side.

More than a doorway between classical and hip-hop, Ezinma hopes her work is a racial conduit, too. It’s a place to ruminate on what it means to be mixed — a niche where listeners can explore the sound as not two genres coming together, but as an entirely new form. As a biracial woman, the declaration that being mixed is a valid whole entity — and not something defined only by its disparate parts — is powerful. “It was really important to just declare my voice,” Ezinma told me. “It’s a completely open lane.”

The post Ezinma mixes hip-hop and classical music to send a bold message about blackness appeared first on HelloGiggles.



Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2018 Collection Expertly Mixes the Past, Present and Future

While it’s a hard fact that most fashion people feel pretty loopy by the final show of Paris Fashion Week, which just so happens to be Louis Vuitton, there’s nothing that can make you wonder whether you’re actually going crazy quite like walking into the Louvre’s private Lefuel Court — a majestic …

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Watch: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Trailer Mixes Humor, Action and Humorous Action

Watch: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Trailer Mixes Humor, Action and Humorous Action

Just as rave reactions are coming out of the premiere of Black Panther, another upcoming Marvel movie has just debuted its first trailer. Ant-Man and the Wasp is the follow-up to 2015's Ant-Man (with some residue from the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, as well) and promotes Evangeline Lily's character to full superhero status, herself.

This first spot reminds us of what we love about the previous movie, a combination of humor, action and humorous action (a…

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‘NBA 2K18’ Mixes Past & Present With “All-Time” Teams Trailer

Following its “Get Shook” trailer, NBA 2K18 is back to showcase a new edition to this year’s game. The Kyrie Irving-covered game will soon feature All-Time squads with each team including the best players from each respective franchise.

In the newest preview, you’ll see LeBron James return to the Miami Heat while Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose join forces making fantasy the closest thing to reality. Magic Johnson teams up with Kobe Bryant and Shaq in addition to the return of Allen Iverson and more. Take a look at the trailer above and let us know your thoughts.

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