The history of rocket jumps – or rocket jumping – goes far back into the history of the shooter genre. The catapulting of your own game character with the help of the rocket launcher first appeared on a horizontal level in the 1993 action milestone Doom. But it later became really popular in id Software's multiplayer pioneer Quake (1996): Rocket jumping was a tool for experienced players and was a necessary tool for victory.
Rocket launcher and rocket jumping will play the main roles in the hero shooter Rocket Arena, which will be released on July 14, 2020 for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One and designed for crossplay. There are no other weapons in the game. Why, after all, the bazooka is anyway the favorite cannon of every player – at least when it comes to Kevin Franklin, the co-founder and managing director of US developer Final Strike Games.
The concept behind Rocket Arena sounds simple: in the finished game, two teams of three compete with and against each other on ten maps and five different game modes. The focus is on multiplayer, for soloists there are only training missions. Similar to Overwatch, Final Strike Game also creates a story about the ten heroes and the setting. The battle is set in Crater, a crazy, colorful alien game world full of crazy people. The team uses common clichés and archetypes to design the characters. For example, we have the pirate Blastbeard, the adventurer Boone or the would-be space hero Jayto. The graphic style is slightly reminiscent of Fortnite and makes it clear at first glance that Rocket Arena should be a game for every target group.
The gameplay also lives up to this claim. In contrast to classic deathmatch games, no one goes for it in Rocket Arena. Instead, use the missiles to push your opponents back and push them out of the arena. In addition, the boost bar fills up on hits. A full shot is enough and the afterburner, which fires it from the arena, ignites. There is also no classic "respawn" in this case: after take-off, you hover over the operational area and can choose the next landing point from an airy height.
The rockets in Rocket Arena are much more than just projectiles. They represent the figures and their characteristics. Jungle Queen Izell, for example, shoots spears, pirate Blastbeard fires cannonballs from his Ballermann. "Rocket Arena was originally designed as a first-person game, but the earlier beta phases showed that the chase perspective was the better choice," said Kevin Franklin during the presentation. One of the reasons for this is the evasive maneuvers with which we escape missiles or, with perfect timing, even save ourselves from going out. The effectiveness of the hits depends not only on the power of the cannon, but also on the position on the field. If we are in the air, we are all the more susceptible to direct hits.
In addition to rocket jumping and evasive action, each hero has two special attacks linked to cooldowns. Underwater mermaid Amphora, for example, turns into a ray and rushes among its enemies. At the push of a button, she ignites a water fountain that catapults her victim into the air, making it the perfect target. Pirate Blastbeard, our favorite figure in hands-on, sends out a blast or starts a super shot in the form of an anchor.
You will also find extras in the arenas, including the bomb or the ninja headband to temporarily improve the evasive movements. Artifacts act as a motivational aid: They give you passive bonuses such as reduced cooldowns or increased running speed. These artifacts level up in three stages when used. In addition, there are rewards such as in-game credits for buying new outfits. There is also a premium currency with shop options. However, Final Strike Games only sells cosmetic items and no items that directly affect playability.
The best of all worlds
When it comes to game modes, Final Strike Games seeks inspiration from the greats of the multiplayer genre. Rocketball, for example, is strongly reminiscent of Rocket Arena: two teams, two goals and a huge ball that we can grab or even throw. The result is a moody mix of shooter and football. Here, some characters emerged that were particularly well suited. Amphora, for example, can quickly secure the ball in its ray shape and carry it towards the goal. Blastbeard is an excellent cleaner and keeps its own box clean with its pressure wave.
Source: plassma media agency
As a second variant, we tried Knockout, the quasi-death match from Rocket Arena. As in all modes, it is all about teamwork. When three players ally against an opponent, it becomes difficult. Finally, there was a treasure hunt waiting for us. Basically, the goal here is to collect 250 coins as quickly as possible or to have more coins than the opposing team at the end of the season. The matches split up into several phases: At the beginning of each round, both teams compete for a treasure chest. The longer you hold them, the more doubloons click on your account. If the chest is empty, the coin round starts. In the best Mario manner, dimes appear everywhere in this. You have to collect them and defend yourself against the attacks of your opponents.
Source: plassma media agency
Important: All game modes share the same cards. No matter whether you try knockout, treasure hunt or even the not yet playable PvE mode RocketBot Attack – they all play on the same maps. We are curious whether Rocket Arena can motivate for a long time. So we were convinced by the card design with the many possibilities for rocket jumping and wild gunfire, but the shortness of the rounds quickly resulted in a certain uniformity of the matches. Therefore, Rocket Arena does a lot different than the shooter competition, but maybe needs a little more scale here and there to keep up in the fast-paced online business in the long term.
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