On July 14, 2020, the developer studio Final Strike Games, launched in cooperation with publisher Electronic Arts, published its very first title: Rocket Arena, an arena shooter that should appeal to all target groups, whether young or old.
One thing can be said with certainty: Rocket Arena was really successful for a debut album. But whether the shooter can really inspire everyone is questionable.
Source: PC Games
The design of the shooter, which is visually quite reminiscent of Fortnite, is primarily designed for a younger audience. In the three-on-three battles, a lot of rockets fly through the air, but nobody dies here. The game is based more on Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series. That means: it's just about shooting our opponents out of the arena and staying in the ring as much as possible. Hits with a rocket or an equivalent ability fill up the figures' damage report. If this is filled up to the stop, then a single shot is sufficient to guarantee that the opponent disappears on the horizon.
But even then we don't experience the character's screen death, but he is flown straight back into the arena and can start again. This principle proves to be useful in many ways: First of all, this measure naturally mitigates brutality. On the other hand, the game feels very seamless. The fact that we don't have to wait idly for a respawn, or, like many other online shooters, first of all have to watch our teammates for minutes, means that there is very little frustration. And avoiding frustration is really necessary, otherwise getting into the game can be a little daunting. But we'll get to that later.
Source: PC Games
n Rocket Arena (buy now) we have ten different heroes to choose from before each match. Not only do they all look fundamentally different, they also differ greatly in their functionality. For example, while the pirate Blastbeard shoots cannonballs that are flying towards our opponents in a high arc and rather slowly, the magician Mysteen throws straight playing cards, while you have to charge an attack with the crossbow gunner Kayi for a precise and quick shot. But not only the projectiles of the primary attacks are individually designed, the secondary and special attacks are of course unique for each figure.
For example, we can use the pirate Blastbeard to generate a blast, create a copy of ourselves with Mysteen to distract us, switch to a sniper mode with the adventurer Boone or quickly attack our enemies as a jungle warrior Izell with a spear. The very different handling of the heroes ensures a lot of variety, especially in the first hours. If you also want to learn something about the background history of the world and the characters, you can read them in the menu.
Source: PC Games
By completing matches, you gain experience points through which the character played rises in rank. So if you play the same figure all the time, you can quickly reach a high level with it. However, if you use all characters evenly, you will find it difficult to make progress in terms of progress. By leveling up the characters, we unlock cosmetic items such as additional banners and patterns for our totem, which can only be seen before and after a match behind our character. With these unlockables, it is not so bad to be inferior in level. The cosmetic items must be unlocked separately for each hero.
But much more important are the various artifacts with which we can equip our warriors in the main menu and which are also available for level-ups. These are not cosmetic in nature, but change the values of our characters and give us different bonuses. For example, the "wobbly canister" artifact can cause our damage to increase when our own damage indicator fills up. The created artifacts also level regardless of the hero level. Wobbly canister starts with a maximum damage bonus of 8.0 percent, at level 3 we then cause 10.0 percent more damage. While this is not a particularly big bonus, it does not cause any major balancing problems. Nice: All artifacts can be used with all figures as soon as they are unlocked and the level of the item also remains when changing.
Source: PC Games
As for the matches themselves, Rocket Arena offers a lot of variety. In the menu we have the choice between a total of three different modes. Including social arena, knockout and attack by the Raket-O-Boter. Knockout is a traditional deathmatch with direct re-entry, in which the team of three with the most knockouts takes the victory home. The Raket-O-Boter attack is again a kind of hordes mode in which we have to co-operate with two other players to get a certain number of AI-controlled robots out of the ring. For this, each player has a total of three lives that must go perdu before the fight is considered lost. Unfortunately, this mode is currently somewhat underwhelming and could be made more sophisticated. But it gets really fun in the social arena. Here we are thrown onto a randomly selected map, on which we fight for victory in a randomly selected game mode. Here we would have found the opportunity to choose a mode ourselves.
There are several different types of matches in the social arena, such as rocket ball, mega rocket or treasure hunt. In a rocket ball match, a ball spawns in the middle of the map that can be picked up and thrown by any character. The goal, of course, is to hit the opposing goal and keep your own box clean. In contrast, mega-rocket is a rather classic capture the flag, in which the area around a randomly spawning rocket has to be conquered by our team. Treasure hunt, on the other hand, is about collecting as many coins as possible on the field. The team that reaches 250 coins first wins the round. Regularly there is a treasure chest round in these matches, in which a single chest appears. The character who picks them up keeps getting coins for his team until he is shot down and another figure gets the chest.
Source: PC Games
When trying around with the figures, it quickly becomes clear that many of them simply dominate in certain modes. The heroines Amphora and Rev are good examples here. Rev surfs on a hoverboard, which means she can move faster than most other characters, Amphora can dive under the floor in a kind of ray shape, making her invulnerable for some time. So the two are perfect for getting the ball in a flash in front of the opponents in the rocket ball. Meanwhile, Blastbeard's pressure wave is well suited to keep the area to be conquered in a mega-rocket.
Regarding matchmaking you have to be patient. In our test phase, we often waited several minutes until we could start a lap, especially in the knockout, we sometimes had to wait a long time. Often a round is over after a very short time, which is why the gameplay loop sometimes feels unsatisfactorily lame. Unfortunately, that's not the only problem with matchmaking.
Source: PC Games
Often, shortly after we started, we were put into a match with characters who had already passed level 90. As bloody beginners, we naturally looked into the tube against these pro gamers. So the first attempts were pretty rocky and frustrating, especially since these players knew the maps inside out and could maneuver us out pretty easily in rocket ball mode, for example by rocket and wall jumps. In addition, as a new player you have to get used to the controls. Rocket Arena is not a fast shooter like Destiny or Counter Strike, the rockets fly relatively slowly towards the opponents and landing a good hit requires practice.
Of course, microtransactions should not be missing in a title of this type. At least one positive thing is that in Rocket Arena they are limited to cosmetic content. But the pricing in the in-game shop is pretty cheeky. We get an outfit for the pirate Blastbeard for about 800 units of rocket fuel, which corresponds to about 8 euros. Or we can spice up our totem's banner for just one euro with a cool red stripe. It is also possible to earn the necessary points for the purchase, but it takes a while.
Source: PC Games
Of course, it is up to you whether green trousers and a little headdress are really worth 8 euros for the pirate. In a game that costs at least 30 euros on both the PC, the PS4 and the Xbox One, this type of business model is questionable, regardless of whether there is a hypocritical "optional" unlocking method or not.
A little treat, but not for a permanent relationship
I really liked Rocket Arena, after I was initially skeptical about the Fortnite look and the very relentless entry. The varied modes are quite fun and trying out the different characters keeps you at the beginning quite well. But unfortunately all of this is over pretty quickly. At some point you played every mode and tested every character, and then unfortunately not much remains. Unfortunately there is a lack of real long-term motivation, unlockable artifacts with minimal buffs and cosmetics are a nice thing, but the wheel is not reinvented. I therefore unfortunately doubt that Rocket Arena will become a perennial favorite, like the obvious role models.
Rocket Arena in the test: a brightly colored and highly explosive arena shooter (Source: PC Games)
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