PAX East 2012: Orcs Must Die 2 Hands On
One of the most surprising announcements of last month was Orcs Must Die 2, sequel to the 2011 Orc-slaying solo adventure for PC and Xbox Live Arcade. An even better surprise was that I got to spend some time with the game and the folks at Robot Entertainment, checking out the all new traps, weapons, enemies, and co-op focused features.
Orcs Must Die 2 takes place just after the first game, with the War Mage teaming up with a new character (the Sorceress) to protect even more rifts the only way they know how: killing lots and lots of orcs.
While the War Mage has stayed mainly the same, with high health and noticeably low mana levels, his Sorceress teammate is the polar opposite — high in mana but certainly unable to take as much damage as her partner.
When my first online match was queued up, I was taken into a lobby where I and a co-op friend were able to choose between these characters. We could both be the same character, or each of us could play a separate character — great for avoiding those “Aww man, I don’t want to play that character” scenarios that tend to arise in choice-limited co-op games.
After being dropped into the level, we were each able to fill our inventory with weapons and placeable traps of our choosing — exactly like the first game, but with some quirky new additions. Aside from the revamped inventory system, which showcases the specific enemies you’ll be facing in the level, you’re presented with a wealthy selection of traps and upgrades.
While not all have been revealed just yet, we did get to tinker with the shotgun, ice pads(freezes enemies upon contact) and wall pushers(shoves enemies away from walls, usually off of nearby cliffs).
There was also the health-recharging belt, an absolute must-own for players who tend to get too close to the action just a bit too often…like myself.
In fact, all of this new equipment is in addition to the old arsenal, as every weapon, trap and device from the first game is in OMD2. Familiar favorites like the furnace, spike tiles, and archers will all see a return.
Once our selections were made and our traps were laid, the first wave of the enemy Orc army was unleashed, dead set on reaching the rifts we sought to protect. Thanks to a combination of my shotgun blasts, my co-partners crossbow arrows, and the bountiful traps scattered about the path, the first round of enemies were defeated with ease.
As the rounds progressed though, new, bigger, tougher enemies began to emerge through the gates, making rift-protection just a tad more difficult. The newest enemy that was introduced was a yet to be named Orc that could run at high speeds and damage you much quicker than a typical grunt.
Thankfully, the Sorceress was able to use her mana-consuming “charm” ability to lure the beast in her direction instead of mine, allowing me to lay down some serious firepower on it and take it down.
As the main gameplay has been largely unchanged since the first game, killing orcs still earns you cash, which allows you to buy and place more traps as you progress. Your currency is held separately from your co-op partner — rewarding each player based on their performance and contribution, and keeping players from draining their buddies equipment funds dry.
The waves got longer, the enemies got tougher, but after approximately 12-15 minutes, the round came to an end, I and my co-op partner reigning victorious over the vile orc army.
My time with Orcs Must Die 2 was certainly a familiar one, but with additions I’m glad to see shining through in design. Killing orcs and placing traps is what made the original game very fun, but taking it online with a friend and adding awesome new equipment feels like the true Orcs Must Die experience.
You can check it out when it launches this summer exclusively on PC.