Recently we met up with the guys at Gameforge, best known for their free-to-play titles TERA, Skill and Aion Free-to-Play. We had a chance to take a look at some of their latest titles such as HEX: Shards of Fate, Sigils and of course Orcs Must Die! Unchained.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained is the successor to Orcs Must Die! 1 and Orcs Must Die! 2 but the developers made a bold move with Unchained by not just making Orcs Must Die! 3. Unchained brings in new MOBA and TCG style gameplay mechanics which are entwined with the tried-and-tested tower defence mechanics of the previous two games.
With the new mechanics come a whole host of different additions.To start with the game is 5v5 against either AI bots or human players which can be mixed and matched in any way. The aim of the game is to get your minions into the enemy Rift which has 20 points, each of your minions which makes it takes off 1 point; run out of points and it’s game over. To get them to the rift, you will need to traverse across the map through enemy gates, traps, their buffed guardians who act as gatekeepers and, most challenging of all, other players.
Before you jump in a match you have many options to prepare yourself for the battle ahead. Building a deck is important as all the cards are used for spawning minions, what accessories you can use in a match and in true Orcs Must Die! style what traps you are able to lay down. Balancing your deck to with different costs for traps, types of minions and the accessories will help skill your character to the play style you want.
On top of the deck building you also have the ability to choose which traits you have each time you level up. Traits will give your character different bonuses and effects to further customise how you play. There is a lot to take in at the start of the game but even with the learning curve high it explains it to you quite nicely.
The roster sits at about 15 playable characters with some familiar faces each with their own different abilities and style of play. Characters are grouped into two simple types, attacker or defender. Playing as defender you rack up more gold quicker and are able to lay down traps. Attackers on the other hand are able to gain leadership faster which allow you to spawn more minions.
At the start of the map, each team needs to open their War Camp which is able to spawn minions that head towards enemy gates and towards the rift. As you follow your minions into battle you will gain leadership points which allow you to upgrade your War Camp, open the other and set higher level minion cards that are more powerful.
Heading into battle with your minions is not only the fastest way to get Leadership points but it also allows you to not be the centre of attention for the gate guardians who are nigh impossible to take down solo. They act as a shield and help you take down not only the guardian but the gates and other players. At lower levels they do not last long so expect to do some tactical retreats and wait for the next re-spawn of minions.
In Orcs Must Die! Unchained, balancing attacking and defending is important to winning, attacking hard might sounds great but if you are not defending the three different lanes with traps and players you will soon be overrun. Communicating and team balance is highly valued as you will have to make sure defenders are getting enough gold to lay traps and keep enemies at bay, while attackers needs to keep an eye on their War Camps and minion spawns and support them in battle.
Crossover also happens, attackers will still gain gold and can lay down traps and defenders gain Leadership and help upgrade War Camps. This all means players are never stuck in a certain role, adding this on top of your deck set-up, traits and the character you play creates the canvas for you to build whatever type of meta you like.
Upgrading War Camps and selling traps and replacing them for higher level, higher cost is integral to help keeping the enemy minions and players at bay as they level up along with the enemy War Camps. The deck plays an important part of the game as a poorly thought out deck won’t work correctly as the match progresses. Too many high level traps will make it hard to defend at the start and minions chosen without a purpose won’t be as effective.
As the battle rages on, gates broken, guardians defeated it becomes much harder and requires more team work to be able to coordinate attacks and defend each lane from the enemy. Every step starts to count more and more and pressure will be on upgrading traps and War Camps. At higher levels War Camps start spawning Captains which are beefed up minions who can deal some serious damage, collecting Leadership points as a team, levelling up War Camps and getting better enemies quicker than your opponents.
So much goes on at anyone time but playing a match as a beginner didn’t feel overwhelming. The matches build up gradually and the difficulty curve gets steeper but not too much to make players feel out of their depth. This is one of the best parts of Orcs Must Die! Unchained as balancing the match progression really makes the game worth playing.
Two maps are available at the moment, one being a maze like castle called the Cliffside Clash which we played for the preview and the other map being the Highlands which is more open and green. Both maps featured 3 lanes and similar points on interests such as 2 War Camps, Gates and Guardians but each laid out differently. This allows for different tactics on each map, as the same thing won’t work for every map and not even a different game on the same map against different heroes and minions.
Overall the game did not disappoint. It stays true to its roots still bringing in that tower defence gameplay with a great sense of comedy. Branching out into MOBA style gameplay was the right decision and brings a whole new dynamic to the series, being multiplayer against 5 players allows for some interesting adventures and packed with so much stuff you will never run out of deck types to build and heroes to play as to suit your fancy each day.
By bringing in new items, traps, heroes, minions and more Orcs Must Die! Unchained will give players many hours of fun either with their friends online, over lan or solo against the AI. We look forward to seeing how it progresses and what more Gameforge and Robot Entertainment bring.