Even weeks later, all the PAX news still hasn’t come forward. We got the chance for another hands on with another title that was playable there. Orcs Must Die! Is a dungeon/tower defense game currently in development by Robot Entertainment. Comprised largely of former Ensemble Studios employees, older gamers will remember them for their well received RTS Age of Empires which was popular on the PC in the late 90s. Most recently, their last title before being disbanded was Xbox’s Halo Wars. I had the opportunity to catch up with designer Dave Leary, who walked me through their upcoming title, and here’s what I had to say.
As I started up Orcs Must Die! I was already planning my strategy based on what I had seen of the player in front of me. I was brought to a menu screen where I could select a number of weapons and defenses to best defend the siege upon my castle. I chose to go with the approach of utilizing the best stationary defenses I could muster, while simply providing supporting powers with little in terms of direct damage. The individual before me took a far different stance – he favored direct damage performed by his character, and only brought a handful of stationary defenses with him into battle.
As the screen finished loading, I was greeted with a small castle filled with a colorful, cartoon like demeanor and sprinkled with a hint of cell shading. With haste, I laid my traps at the foot of the large castle door, which I could sense would be crumbling down soon based on the violent shakes and rumbles behind it. It made the most sense for me to set a dark slime, which spewed a thick, oil like substance to slow the attackers, as I also covered the adjacent walls with traps that shot a hellstorm of arrows horizontally across the scene. The oil allowed for my traps to reset in time and get another shot off before those fortunate enough to survive the first set of attacks could make it through.
The control scheme will be instantly familiar to those who have played a third-person shooter on the PC. The mouse aimed my attacks, with a right click zooming down my crosshairs. Movement was handled with the WASD configuration, all of which allowed for me to efficiently lay traps while maneuvering my character on screen.
As the overwhelming number of armored Orcs made their way toward me, I used my first personal defense. Charging head first, I unleashed a force blast that thrust the Orcs backward, directly into the trap I laid before. Sensing winged denizens flying overhead, I quickly drew my crossbow, set my crosshairs and took aim. As I downed the first two, I realized arrows were coming from another direction – my side. On the ledge above me were supporting archers! Despite their weak attacks, they helped to assuage my fears of having the hellish creatures make their way past me – at least I knew I had a little bit of help. One of the developers on the project informed me that the archers would be selectable as defensive support at later stages in the game as well.
My worries weren’t put at ease for too long however, as the door on the east side of the castle now began to feel forceful blows behind it as well. Using my newly acquired points for disposing of the last set of Orcs, I decided to implement a new strategy and lay a different set of traps that I selected before the match started. Always a fan of flight, I dropped two catapult traps at the foot of the door. The Orcs who made it past those weren’t in the clear just yet, as spikes raised from the floor in the next area of traps I set. Preparing for the worst, I set explosive barrels I found scattered throughout the castle (what were these doing in a castle again?) at a choke point were the two paths converged.
As the second door fell, I understood that the speed of this new set of Orcs would be too great for my launcher to catch them all. It was time to make use of my second personal defense, so I cast a spell from the hands of my battle made which stunned those at the door, allowing my launcher time to reset. As I watched Orcs fly across the halls, I decided to sharpen my targeting skills, thereby rewarding me more experience as I slayed the Orcs with greater style. My preparations proved to be useful towards the end, because the location where I set the explosive barrels served as my last stand, allowing me to quickly dispose of both sets of Orcs. A few more rounds of this, and my brief experience with Orcs Must Die! was through.
While it would have been nice to experience the support of another cohort, Robot Entertainment stated that the title will ship without multiplayer support, although that is a feature they are looking into adding in the future. Their focus at the moment is to develop the most well polished single-player experience they can craft. My time with Orcs Must Die! has me optimistic for their future, although the lack of multiplayer support could be a hindering decision for a number of gamers. The title doesn’t have a release date just yet, although Leary assured me it will occur some time this year and be available on the PC as well as consoles.