EA’s New ‘Rocket Arena’ Is More Than Another Battle Royale
Y'know when games get revealed and they don't really do it for you, at the first time of asking? I definitely got the impression that, after its spot on this year's EA Play presentation, that Rocket Arena has firmly fallen into that category.
What was shown off covered some key bases: this is a free to play, three-on-three arena shooter, with a cast of very colourful characters and array of superbly cartoony maps. Oh, and there's shed-loads of rockets in it, obviously. But what it missed was what I think is kind of the game's main hook.
No so many days ago, ahead of EA Play, I sat in on a presentation on the game - a socially distanced virtual one, of course - where I got to see that this is something that has a lot more in common with a game series like Super Smash Bros. than it does, for example, Apex Legends.
Rocket Arena, which slips onto PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 14th, isn't about K/D ratios, killstreaks, or any kind of killing at all. Nobody dies in this one, which is nice, isn't it? It's all about pushing - well, blasting, exploding, jettisoning - your opponents out of an arena, something that becomes easier the more their damage meters fill up, which in turn has them flying further. Which is a lot like Smash Bros., right?
And the rockets at your disposal (all of which are unique to the characters using them) aren't always there as offensive options - they can be used to boost your character away from the arena's edge, or to avoid incoming projectiles.
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Rocket Arena's CBBC-friendly visuals definitely set it aside from more realistic shooters - and put it, again, more in line with the kind of content Nintendo likes to serve up, like Smash Bros.! It's disappointing, then, that while it'll support crossplay across PS4, PC and Xbox One at launch, there's no word on a Switch version - which is totally where I'd jump on it, based on what I've seen.
But if you're not fussed about the lack of Nintendo support for this one, here are some numbers you may enjoy: Rocket Arena will launch with 10 playable characters (aka heroes - yay to Blastbeard the pirate, and boo to Topnotch the plum-mouthed menace) and 10 dynamic maps, and will support 100 levels of progression per character, and over 350 unlockable cosmetic options. It launches with four distinct PVP modes - Knockout (its primary mode), Rocketball, Mega Rocket and Treasure Hunt - and one PVE option in the shape of RocketBot Attack. And there are more modes (and maps, and presumably heroes) to come, too.
As is more the norm with free-to-play affairs like this, there will also be daily and weekly challenges, user-customisable game modes, and ranked playlists. And more, I'm sure. In fact, I know there's more - and you can read about the finer details on the game's official site.
Suffice to say that this is one that, if it didn't stand out to you beside the info on Star Wars: Squadrons, Apex Legends on Switch and a new Skate game (it's been, like, 84 years), is worth keeping on your radar. It looks bright and cheery and, most importantly, it plays differently to a lot of immediate competitors, and that's enough to have half a chance in the super-crowded online shooter market. And we'll know if it takes that half a chance before long, when the game launches on July 14th.
Featured Image Credit: EA, Final Strike Games
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