A lot of people are going to describe Rocket Arena as “Quake meets Smash Bros”, and they will be accused of being lazy while also being 100% right. The concept and the name started as a Quake mod, after all, although it’s now it’s own separate thing published by Electronic Arts.
This modern incarnation is a 3v3 shooter, out now, with class abilities and rocket-based weapons that Sin somewhat disappointingly describes as “functionally much like regular guns”. You win by knocking your opponents out of the arena, rather than making them explode. Sin enjoyed doing this several weeks ago, though, and I think I probably will too. Even though my brain insists this should be free-to-play and it actually costs £25.
S’got a good trailer. I very much enjoyed this person’s bemused reaction to everything in her house becoming rockets, and then the blaze way in which she steps into a murder death arena.
The most intriguing part seems to be how it handles damage, rather than the Tribes-like glee of landing shots with slow-moving projectiles. I was looking forward to that, but the Smash Bros damage idea sounds like it works well too. Doing damage knocks peoples damage metres upwards, and then their bodies completely skywards after reaching a critical threshold. Here’s what Sin liked about that in her Rocket Arena preview:
“Somehow on a psychological level this changes everything, as you watch someone’s counter go up and up. We all love filling progress bars, right? And then, crucially, you have to get just that one last hit in. Chasing that final hit often feels thrice as difficult as doing the far heavier damage that preceded it. It works in reverse too, as you’ll feel invincible until you’re suddenly desperate to flee and hide for the few precious moments it takes for your damage to cool back down.”
Yeah, that’s good. A neat way of generating tension that will encourage me to flee and hide. As I’ve said before, fleeing and hiding are some of my favourite things to do in videogames. I like how character abilities add variety while letting different players have their moment in the sun, too, and Sin liked the Arena’s cast of pirates, dragon-tamers and children.
Developers Final Strike Games describe their plans for future updates here. New heroes, game modes and events are planned on a regular basis. The doomed fates of previous neat multiplayer game makes me nervous, so I sure hope enough people keep playing to make it worth it.