We’ve had a ton of game releases these past weeks. Some excite us, some disappoint us (looking at you, Worms Rumble) and some…. well, one in particular, confuses us. Rocket Arena. Rocket Arena confuses us. The game has been (re)released by the developers, Final Strike, in partnership with EA Games after they parted ways with Nexon last year, and this time it’s got a hefty upfront price tag — alongside some very unique, and fully polished gameplay.
Let’s take a look at the game and see what it’s all about.
What Is Rocket Arena?
Rocket Arena is sometimes accused of being a ripoff of Fortnite, with its cartoonish, more PG graphics and slapstick tone. And while the aesthetic similarities can’t be denied, the game isn’t even a battle royale; It’s a 3v3 TPS that merges elements of Smash Bros and Hero Shooters like Overwatch and Paladins and shares almost no gameplay overlap with Fortnite — so it’s strange, in a world replete with actual Fortnite ripoffs, that the one game that isn’t gets branded so. Speaking of gameplay…
In Rocket Arena there is no grisly, blood-spattered death like some of the grittier shooters. Instead, players collect damage in a Super Smash Bros style hit-bar that increases the knockback effect of attacks, eventually maxing out at “Mega Blast” where one hit can send players racing over the horizon.
What makes this damage mechanic shine is the way projectiles work in Rocket Arena: they are all, appropriately, rockets. There’s no run-and-gun bullet spraying; each character has their own flavor of rocket with its own unique dynamics. Some rockets zip through the air in straight vectors, some arc, some shoot forth in volleys, some have ammo counts while others do not. Indeed, each hero has their own unique weapon system and play-style.
This salient lack of banana clips and bandoliers encourages a much more careful aim when firing. Players are forced to not only consider velocity but also the trajectory, AoE, and cooldowns. You can’t just spam a lead hail-storm at your opponent, knowing at least some bullets will hit their mark. Combine this with the compact maps and scaling knockback system, and gameplay becomes wild.
And all that might sound a little complicated, certainly. It is something to acquaint yourself with but also an interesting breath of fresh air. Thankfully, there is an offline PvE mode for players to familiarize themselves with the game before beginning the inevitable cycle of fruitless, unceasing deaths that must precede getting the hang of any new shooter.
There are, currently, ten playable heroes unlocked with the game’s purchase and one more hero available during season 1. While they all use rockets in some form, there are still recognizable play-styles. There are the long-range, single-target focused snipers, the shorter range, defense-oriented tanks, bursty assassins with predatory movement mechanics — all of the usual staples, but revised and reworked for Rocket Arena’s special sort of mayhem.
Multiple Game Modes
Players have four game modes in which to sew zany, high-chroma chaos on. The standard issue is Knockout, ala Super Smash Bros, where the goal is to send everyone soaring into the shadow realm.
Rocketball is next, a much-maligned and clunky mixup of soccer and Knockout that seems to be universally hated by the player base. Mega Rocket is a point-capture style game mode that has players bunkering down to hold a specific point.
And finally, Treasure Hunt, where players fight over the possession of a Treasure Chest that drops coins while held, eventually depleting and spawning coins all across the map for one last rocket-fuel laced remix of Mario.
Like many other online shooters, the game incorporates a battle pass system that eventually spits out a bunch of cosmetics, and an in-game store where players can spend their hard-earned Rocket Fuel. This has, understandably, irked some players already doubtful about the 30 dollar price tag. Is Rocket Arena worth buying? Thankfully, somebody wrote a guide to answer that very question.
Complete Cross-Platform Support
The game is available on PC via Origin and Steam as well as Xbox One and PS4 and supports complete crossplay between all of them — no easy feat nowadays and certainly a selling point for those concerned about the size of the player base.
That’s your basic overview of Rocket Arena, in case you were wondering what all the modest hype was about. A unique, Super Smash Bros style hero shooter with a solid gameplay but a dubitable price tag. Let us know if you picked up the game and what your thoughts are; F2P game masquerading as premium or underrated dark horse with the potential to topple Fortnite?