Set to arrive this Summer, Rocket Arena is an explosive three-on-three competitive shooter that sees players battle it out using an assortment of rocket-powered weaponry. The project is the work of Final Strike Games, a team that has had a hand in crafting multiplayer modes in series such as Call of Duty, Halo, and Doom. I recently got the chance to sink three hours into the upcoming shooter and I was pleasantly surprised with what I experienced.
The action in Rocket Arena is unlike any other competitive shooter that I have played and in this game, death isn't part of the equation. Instead, the goal is to knock other players out of the arena. This functions largely like Super Smash Bros., as each player has a damage meter and the higher the damage, the easier it is to be knocked off the map. Unlike Super Smash Bros., however, your damage meter slowly regenerates over time, so it's wise to tactically retreat and wait for your damage to slowly recover.
As well as a standard rocket attack, players also have a timed dodge as well as two special character-specific moves that are both on cooldowns. If timed right you can also fire at a surface with your primary weapon and use the blast of the explosive to propel you up into the air. This can be chained to reach greater heights; rocket jumping offers a great method of traversal and can be used for recovery if you find yourself knocked off the edge.
The arenas that I played in all had a cartoonish charm to them and I was impressed by the variety of the different settings that were available. I battled across jungles, deserts, and snowy villages, and I rarely found myself playing on the same map consecutively. I also found the selection of characters to be good too, as each character's quirky personality carried over to the rocket-based weaponry they used. A favourite amongst the devs seemed to be Blastbeard, an overweight red-headed pirate, who fires explosive cannonballs at his foes.
As part of the digital event, I was able to play through three upcoming modes and these were Knockout, Rocketball, and Treasure Hunt. Knockout functions as a typical Team Deathmatch mode, as the first team to reach 20 knockouts is declared the winner. Rocket Ball, as you might have guessed, is inspired by a certain popular sport, and sees players fighting to land an oversized ball on the opposing team's side of the map; I really enjoyed this mode as it pushed everyone to play cooperatively and stay vigilant of the unfolding action.
Treasure Hunter was easily my favourite mode of the three and saw us scramble to snag 200 gold coins before the opposing team. The mode is split into two rounds, with the first, the 'Treasure Chest Round', being a cat and mouse game where players are rewarded for holding onto a sole treasure chest for as long as possible. The second round, the 'Coin' round, sees dozens of coins descend onto the map and it becomes a frantic rush to grab them before they fade away. This mode felt very silly and unique, and it was always a tough call whether to focus solely on coin collecting, or whether to try and stop our foes and their efforts.
The modes I sampled aren't all that will be arriving at launch, and the developers revealed that two others - Robot Attack and Megarocket - would be present, too. I didn't get the chance to try these out for myself, but it was explained that Robot Attack is a PvE mode where players have to work together to take down waves of attacking robots. I also learned that all of the modes mentioned would support cross-play, which should ensure that there will be a stronger influx of players to jump in and compete with.
The competitive shooter genre may be a crowded one, but I do think that Rocket Arena might have found a niche for itself with its more light-hearted and child-friendly approach. The Treasure Hunter and Rocketball modes feel fun and distinct, and the lack of deadly violence ensures that it can be enjoyed by players of all ages. Be sure to come back and check out our full review when Rocket Arena launches on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on July 14.
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