Yes, I am going to commit genocide on a fictional race. And so are you. But we’re gamers. It’s what we do. And do we feel bad about it? Heck no! It’s fun! It’s even more fun to do it with a friend.
That’s the idea behind Orcs Must Die: Unchained, the upcoming sequel in the popular Orcs Must Die series. Bill Murphy and I had a chance to go a few rounds in the co-op mode of the game at PAX Prime earlier today, putting our orc slaying skills to the test. Now I have played quite a bit of Orcs Must Die and Orcs Must Die 2, and I must say that this game truly feels like a worthy follow-up. Of course with any sequel, there are a slew of updates, new characters, new abilities, and new traps. But unlike a lot of sequels, Orcs Must Die: Unchained felt fresh. It felt new. But most of all, it felt fun.
Now for those of you not familiar with Orcs Must Die, let’s back up a second. The games are a blend of tower defense and action RPG. There will be a short set-up phase where you’ll put up defenses such as spike traps, tar pits, arrow walls, etc., and then you attempt to survive and stop the onslaught. Although you will be doing your part, which is where the action RPG aspect comes in. For our play session, I chose the character of the Battle Mage, a ranged fighter who uses a magical crossbow. And when is a magical crossbow NOT cool? I’d like to say I chose him for another reason, but I just wanted to use that crossbow. Bill decided to use the dwarven Prospector because, and I quote, “I like hitting things with a shovel.” We’re a complex pair, Bill and I.
As the hordes (see what I did there?) began to swarm, we were introduced to some of the new features in Orcs Must Die: Unchained. Like going Unchained! Using your traps to kill enemies builds a combo meter, which slowly fills up your “Unchained” meter. Once it fills, you can unleash/unchain/unwhatever and pretty much destroy everything in your path, as this will increase your damage output and decrease the mana cost and cooldowns on your skills.
Then, as I found myself staring down an NPC controlled Battlemage, I realized another new feature. NPC controlled heroes. There have always been bosses in Orcs Must Die. Typically they are just a much larger orcs than their lemming brethren, but introducing these new NPC heroes really does up the difficulty. They’re just like you, except evil, and with a computer for a brain. You’re doomed.
Somehow, despite all odds, Bill and I found ourselves playing like pros, using tunnels we built to jump back and forth between lanes to help each other defend against the waves of enemies. We spouted off strategy and commands like veterans, though it was likely all gibberish to anyone else listening. My favorite was “I need help! There’s a thingy attacking the thingy!” M.L.G. Pro. And somehow, we won, so I guess we were doing something right. Or maybe it was the developers that filled out the rest of our team. Who knows?