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One of your team mates is down and the traps won’t hold for much longer. The orcs are flooding in and they are heading straight for the rift. You’ve almost lost all hope. Suddenly, you erupt into Unchained mode, slashing mercilessly as you pick them off, three, four, five at a time! Your team jump in to help and together you eliminate all remaining enemies. You’re safe for now…until the next wave.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained is the first free-to-play instalment in the Orcs Must Die series. Combining PvP (Player Vs Player) and PvE (Player Vs Environment) action with tower defence, it’s up to you to defend your fortress and storm the opponent’s.
Robot Entertainment have assured us that you can unlock everything in Orcs Must Die! Unchained just by playing the game – you don’t actually have to spend any money at all. However, that will probably take many hours to accomplish so in the true spirit of free-to-play, they’ve included a number of items that can be purchased to assist you. Bundles are currently available to buy from their online store, including the ‘Brave Hero Box’, currently at £1.99; the ‘Colossal Hero Box’ at £10.99 and the ‘Legendary Hero Box at a whopping £34.99. These boxes include a variety of heroes, potions, rings, scrolls and more.
So, as mentioned above, the aim of the game is tower defence: stop your enemy’s minions from running through your defences and throwing themselves into a glowing blue ball known as the Rift. When we played the game, the Rift could handle a maximum of twenty-five orcs before failing you, so as long as your defences are sufficient, the Rift seems to be quite forgiving.
You start with a number of coins so that you can buy traps, which you will then set along the path leading from the door where the enemies arrive, to the Rift. As you kill enemies, you will earn more coins, enabling you to buy better traps. However, it’s important to remember not to spend all of your coins. As the game progresses and more waves of enemies are unleashed, more doors will start opening on your map. This means that you’ll have to split your team to cover each entrance. In some cases, you might eliminate an enemy wave faster than your team mates, so its advised that you spare a few coins, just in case you need to sprint to another area to pitch in.
There are currently fourteen confirmed heroes (with two more teased on the Orcs Must Die! Unchained website) and eight maps. When we tested out the game, we were able to play on the Unchained Fortress and Shark Island maps. The Unchained Fortress is the winding castle that you would expect, with orcs storming in through heavy wooden doors into stone corridors lined by roaring torches. Shark Island was arguably a more interesting map as shark infested waters not only surrounded the island, but also awaited any player that lost their footing on the sheltered wooden decks that create the island. Here, the orcs had to sail across to the island before invading, giving players a few extra seconds to prepare for each wave.
Furthermore, what’s new to this game is the Unchained mode. Once you have saved enough energy, you will be able to tap Y on your keyboard to activate ‘Unchained’, a turbo mode that increases the amount of damage that you can do to enemies and enables you to rack up an impressive multiplier score. We were also encouraged to try to activate our Unchained mode at the same time as other members of our team as that further increases damage.
Just like any typical RPG (role playing game), Orcs Must Die! Unchained features the standard damage dealer/DPS (damage per second), tank and healer classes. For those who are unfamiliar with these terms: a damage dealer focuses on dealing huge amounts of damage to either one specific target or a whole group of enemies; a tank’s main role is to take damage from enemies, thereby stopping the tank’s teammates from getting hurt; and the healer tries to keep everyone happy by ensuring the team has enough health to stay alive.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained divides these classes even further to accommodate the fact that it is a tower defence game. There are support classes that are designed to give their team a helping hand in the middle of battle. Ivy can heal her teammates while Dobbin can create tunnels that allow his team to traverse the battlefield easily. Characters like Oziel, Midnight and Blackpaw are listed as being either a Mage or Assassin (Oziel is in fact both of these classes), these classes are the damage dealers. Unlike most RPGs these days, Orcs Must Die! Unchained allows players to select any class and use them any way they like. A good example of this is Stinkeye. Stinkeye was originally intended to be played as a tank character, but Robot Entertainment noticed players wanted to use him as an offensive character, so they let players do exactly that. While most of the characters in this game have abilities that may place them into certain roles, it’s up to the player to make the final decision on how their character works.
Each character has normal attacks that are activated by clicking the left mouse and right mouse buttons. They also have a number of special attacks which are mapped as keyboard shortcuts. We played as Gabriella, a Mage and Defender character. She carries a glowing purple spear-shaped weapon that fires out short bursts of magic to injure enemies. We were advised that she is very useful as a ranged character. One of her special moves, referred to as Blink, allows her to teleport a short distance away from enemies, which is great for getting out of trouble fast and gives you time to decide what to do next.
Any surrounding enemies will be rooted when this occurs. Another move uses her Staff of Domination to produce a ‘love mist’ over enemies in close range, putting them in a paralysing daze. This move is particularly useful if there is a large group in front of you, as the spell will hit more of them. It also gives your team a bit more time to react and safely attack before the spell wears off. Finally, Gabriella also has a move known as Shockwave, which sets off traps in a large cone in front of her, regardless of their cooldown state. We found this move to be very helpful when the fight reached its peak as more enemies were close to the traps and could be affected by them. In addition, as you level up, you can unlock more abilities/buffs for your characters which can strengthen some of their attacks.
Modding support has not been confirmed for Orcs Must Die! Unchained.
Weapons & Abilities
Orcs Must Die! Unchained features a number of different abilities. One of the most important abilities is the traps. Traps can be placed along the path towards the Rift, on the floor, walls and ceiling. Traps vary in price, with Concussive Pounders that drop down from the ceiling and Arrow Walls being relatively cheap, and Cursed Ground and Great Wall Barricades being more expensive.
Moreover, gear is another important type of ability included in the game. This type of ability does not use the currency of coins, instead utilising mana. Some of the gear is free, such as the Mage’s Picnic, which places a magical object on the ground that regenerates mana to all friendly heroes within range. Heroes can also equip gear that gives them a short-term buff, followed by a debuff. For example, when a player activates the Ring of Last Stand they will be protected from all damage for a short period of time. As this wears off, their armour types will then be reduced.
Glyphs are a more selective ability. Glyphs can only be used by Heroes that possess them as their unique ability. These are items that can be placed at enemy guardian spots or at war camps in order to buff minion attributes. There are currently four types of Glyph: Blood enables minions to do more damage; Health regenerates 250hp over a five second interval; Magic Armour gives minions a resistance to magic damage and Speed increases how fast minions can move by 75 points.
In addition, each character has their own specialised weapon. You will most likely be more interested in picking a character for their weapon and class rather than what they actually look like. For example, if you prefer to play as a ranged character you may want to pick someone with a crossbow, like Maximilian or a wand, like Gabriella. If you prefer the melee style of play, then maybe Hogarth and his Battle Axe or Blackpaw and his claw will be more appealing.
Minimum System Requirements:
CPU: Intel Core2Duo 2.66GHz
RAM: 4 GB RAM
VGA: Intel HD 4000
Hard disk: 8 GB of free disk space
OS: Windows XP (SP3)
DirectX: DirectX 9.0c (2009.5)
The open beta went live on 29/03 so you can check it out right now.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained is already on PC (for the beta) but will also be coming to PS4.
As is the case with any free-to-play games, there is always a catch. While the developers may state that anything in the game can be unlocked just by playing the game, we can’t help but question just how long this will actually take. The open beta that is currently taking place right now may give us an indication of how Robot Entertainment plan on dishing out the rewards. Bearing in mind that it costs 300 rift shards (the currency used in the game) to purchase one character, Reddit user Dr_Scientist_ had this to say:
“This amount represents playing 120 games where every tenth game gives 25 shards. Games can last around 24 minutes, meaning this is an investment of 48 continuous hours. For something that the cash shop values at less than $5. Is your time worth 10 cents an hour?”
Orcs Must Die! Unchained is definitely a fun game, there’s no doubt about that. The problem stems from the developer’s decision to make this title free-to-play. We understand this business model is incredibly popular now, but there are clearly some negative aspects that come with this change. Fans of the previous games in particular will be incredibly disappointed, again, not because the game is bad but because it’s such a departure from Orcs Must Die! 1 & 2. If there was an option to purchase everything the game has to offer without having to grind through it, maybe that would appease fans who don’t want to continuously purchase bundles. Right now, this does not seem to be an option, though there is nothing to suggest that Robot Entertainment won’t add this in the future.
Most Anticipated Feature
Testing out some of the more expensive traps, such as the Improved Ceiling Ballista.