Rocket Arena – Blasting Our Way Through the Latest EA Original
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 09:36am 19/06/20 | Comments
3v3 PvP with a cast of character that live to do one thing well – fire rockets to knock their opponents out of the arena. We go hands-on with the latest EA Original.
Nothing but rocket. It sounds like the recipe for a fun Quake III Arena mod where all weapons are projectiles – flying through the air stuff that just so happens to explode on impact. For its roots that are buried somewhere in the arena-shooter realm from the ‘90s, the aptly-titled Rocket Arena is rocket-to-the-face action that’s fun for the whole family. On that front one can’t help but be reminded of Nintendo’s take on the whole competitive shooter thing that debuted on the WiiU – Splatoon. Or, to a lesser degree, Fortnite. Thanks to the third-person over the shoulder camera and the fast pace of the action.
With rising damage meters and arena-leaving knockouts there’s a dose of Super Smash Bros. too.
A bright cartoon world, a cast of equally bright characters, and matches that are over in a matter of minutes -- Rocket Arena has a pick-up-and-play quality that lends itself, or even positions itself, as something that can be played for a few rounds here or there. A time killer in the best possible sense of the term, where high-impact bursts of action can fill your respective rocket-firing and triple-jumping quota on any given day.
Rocket Arena’s Knockout Mode
That said, there is a learning curve outside of understanding the differences between the characters. Those well versed in the ways of the rocket jump and firing not where your opponent is but where they’re going to be might only need a minute to loosen their hypothetical belts and relax into the groove. For everyone else, say youngsters who might not have any memory of Quake III on the account of them not existing at the time of its release, some time is needed to come to grips with the controls, pacing, and ways of the rocket.
"For its roots that are buried somewhere in the arena-shooter realm from the ‘90s, the aptly-titled Rocket Arena is rocket-to-the-face action that’s fun for the whole family.”
Where the nuance, outside of pure skill, comes into play lies with the character choices made for the 3v3 battles in the various modes. There’s the slow-moving heavy Blastbeard, the all-rounder Jayto, the water rocket firing Amphora, and others. Each equipped with special abilities and different styles of rockets. The approach is an in-between, not exactly the pure class-driven Hero Shooter design found in something like Overwatch but enough to warrant finding a favourite and trying out different combinations to see what works across which modes.
In terms of modes there are four coming at launch - Knockout, Rocketball, Mega Rocket, and Treasure Hunt – across 10 maps. Having tested three of the four, Knockout is the death-match of the game (even though no dies dies in Rocket Arena battles), Rocketball is basically Rocket League, and Treasure Hunt is a collect-a-thon intertwined with PvP combat. The latter was clearly the weakest of the three we played, on the account of it feeling more confusing to follow than the pure simplicity of Knockout and the sporty sportiness of Rocketball.
Rocket Arena Rocketball
As for the no death thing? Well, this is where Rocket Arena introduces perhaps its most realised and impressive mechanic. In this colourful cartoon world, seeing your opponents explode or gib or otherwise add a little red to the pleasant looking maps doesn’t happen on the account of “kills” being knockouts and when you’re knocked out of the arena the respawn timer is a your character being flown back into the action and placed on the ground. The impressive part is that whilst all of this is happening you can see the action being played out in your absence, get a god-like view of the arena, and maybe pass on a tip or two to your teammates.
Rocket Arena is a game that will live firmly in the competitive realm, with developer Final Strike Games planning to run seasons alongside offering hundreds of unlockable cosmetics and progression rewards from day one. Plus, there’s an artifact system where equipping items can change your character in ways that affect power and balance. According to the team artifacts will be on the same level playing field when it comes to ranked play.
Rocket Arena Treasure Hunt
Speaking of Fire Strike Games, it has been working on Rocket Arena for a few years now with a team made up of industry veterans and people passionate about team-based PvP. It’s also a game we’ve seen in the past when it was first announced as a free-to-play offering from Nexxon. So then, how has it ended up as an EA Original with a wallet-friendly ($39.95 AUD) price point and a launch planned for July? Well, we don’t know the full behind-the-scenes story but what we do know is that in the past year the game has evolved and changed – going from first-person to third-person, with a focus now on player progression and rewards as free after an initial purchase.
"Rocket Arena is a game that will live firmly in the competitive realm, with developer Final Strike Games planning to run seasons alongside offering hundreds of unlockable cosmetics and progression rewards from day one.”
As a third-person game the controls are solid, responsive, and fluid – and with EA’s focus on cross-platform play Rocket Arena will allow for just that across PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Will it be enough to stand out and, more importantly, stand the test of time. Who knows, the market for competitive team-based PVP with one foot planted in the shooter realm is stacked – as one-time purchases or free-to-play. So, the battle for Rocket Arena will be an uphill one requiring more than a few rocket-assisted jumps before it finds success. In the end Rocket Arena is a blast to pick-up-and-play for a round or two or three. And with Rocket in the title, being a blast to play is, well, a must.
Rocket Arena is out July 14 for PC (Steam/Origin), PS4, and Xbox One