Orcs Must Die 3 is not actually the third game in the franchise, but it does return to the same style as Orcs Must Die 1 and 2. Developed by Robot Entertainment, the game pits players against waves of orcs, trolls, elementals and more, across a range of gamemodes. Fan favourite traps and weapons return with a range of new things added to players’ arsenals to protect the rifts from those pesky hordes. However, was reverting back to the original formula the right decision? Let’s find out!
Funneling players through the tutorial, most of the game is initially locked behind the Old Friends story mode. Working your way through solo, or cooperatively with a friend, sees levels unlocked for the endless mode and eventually modes such as scramble unlocked, which sees random modifiers added into play. To some, this level of content locked away when loading up could be off putting. Though, the Old Friends story does a phenomenal job of introducing new content. New monster types to contend with, new traps to use and even the insanely scaled war scenario mode is introduced, with a constant flow on unlocked content.
In any tower defence title the most important aspect is the things players can construct. From almighty ballistas and springboards to send enemies flying, through to barricades and classic spike traps everything packs a punch, and can be upgraded. Want a spike trap that also does arcane damage… you can unlock it. Perhaps those archers aren’t firing fast enough or instead you’d want them to use fire arrows… players can spend their collected skulls to upgrade every weapon and trap. This allows players to find their favourites and then make them even better. It also means players may have to adapt as their fire arrow archers become ineffective against certain enemy types.
Orcs might be in the title but they are far from the only monsters to be attempting to batter down the gates and push through your defences into the rift. From splitting Earth elementals through to fast kobold runners, players soon have plenty to contend with. From taking more damage, attacking differently and even exploding upon death, each adds their own challenge into the experience. If the game gave you a huge trap arsenal but only a handful of enemies things would get stale. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with Orcs Must Die 3 – keeping players entertained and on their toes.
Supersizing the experience are war scenario levels, which occur periodically along the storyline. These feature unique and equally oversized traps, such as the mortar-like mega boom barrel launcher or a bank of 11 archers rather than the standard 1 at a time. Set on bigger maps, these turn things up to an epic scale, with the numbers of incoming monsters far above anything seen on normal levels – plus big bosses join the fight. These have a different feel to them in comparison to the regular levels. Somehow they don’t make the “small” normal levels redundant, as they have more close quarter areas and a tight experience, while the war scenario maps go all out on scale.
As with the previous entries in the series Orcs Must Die 3 can be played either solo or with a second player in coop. As with those previous games it works entirely well as a solo game but generally feels like it should be played coop. The added benefit of having another player to coordinate trap placement with and help hold off a wave of enemies, which has almost made it through, is great but really that is just the positive effect coop has on almost any game.
The coop implementation is good though and ensures both players have equal impact on proceedings, with both having separate funds to purchase traps with, and with each player controlling a character distinct in both appearance and unique abilities. These unique abilities are not so impactful that they define how you play but do give you some interesting options to think about.
Orcs Must Die 3 pulls the neat trick of looking like how I remember Orcs Must Die 1 looking when it released almost a decade ago. The rose-tinted glasses I have looking back on that game means that this entry in the series looks really rather nice, with a good level of detail complimenting the cartoony art style. After the introductory levels though the environment art generally is a significant step up from its predecessors; offering both larger and more intricate backdrops. The graphics settings are not terribly extensive but do seem to give you control of the typical culprits for reduced frame rates. Overall the game performed very well, with no experiences of frame rate issues or lag between players to note.
Returning the franchise to the original style seems to have paid off. With brilliant, fast paced, tower defence gameplay on offer it will keep two cooping players thoroughly entertained and wanting to play just that one more level. There’s a huge range of levels to play through, different modes to unlock, traps both big and small to upgrade, and so much more. The inclusion of the war scenario mode adds that wow factor of scale, without losing what makes Orcs Must Die 3 fun. There is always another wave of orcs, trolls, elementals and more ready to fight, and you’ll want to defend against them time and time again!
(Editor’s Note: Orcs Must Die 3 was provided to us by the publisher for the review.)