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Gaming Review

Rocket Arena: A Literal Blast

Release date: 14 July 2020

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Developer: Final Strike Games

Publisher: EA

The good:

  • Easy, approachable
  • Brilliant gameplay
  • Varied characters and abilities

The bad:

  • Cost
  • Microtransactions

 

Highly explosive and incredibly competitive. An explosion of characters and colours, Rocket Arena is a 3v3 online multiplayer experience that’s just like Quake, but for the younger Fortnite crowd. The question, however, is if this premium indie team-based multiplayer game will be able to soar to new heights. and reach the stratosphere in a world of cut-throat free-to-play competition. Or does it explode into bits?

While all 10 characters fire rockets, they all have different looks, stories, and special abilities. Jayto shoots fast, hard-hitting missiles. Kayi charges up explosive crossbow bolts for extra speed. And Blastbeard fires cannonballs. And while they each have their own distinct looks, ways of getting around and repelling enemies, they don’t particularly draw you in immediately.

Everybody fights. Nobody dies.

There’s lots of shooting. Explosions are aplenty. But ironically, nobody dies. That’s right. You basically just knock others around — ideally out of bounds — or you get knocked around. A meter at the bottom of your screen will indicate how far you’ll fly upon getting hit by enemy rockets, whether directly or indirectly by splash damage. And the only way to ‘recover’ is to avoid taking hits. And that’s possibly the best and worst aspect of Rocket Arena. While it’s a whole lot of fun sending your opponents all the way out to the stratosphere, it’s not exactly fun to be on the receiving end of this as you’ll be far from any cover.

And while shooting is one of the most primal joys of video gaming, Rocket Arena seems to have fallen short of expectations. Because with the amount of explosions, the game oddly doesn’t feel explosive enough. Yes, your reticle kicks. And your screen shakes. But that’s about it. A direct hit will take your meter out by a third, but you’ll find yourself returning fire right after whipping around. Compare this to the unadulterated exhilaration of scoring a crit in Team Fortress 2. Each blast is just like popping confetti. Except you get meaty giblets flying everywhere. But that’s perhaps the point of it all — to create a smooth, friendly, and watchable game, without huge, screen-shaking explosions, as well as the blood and gore.

And though Rocket Arena falls short in terms of action, the personality of the characters really shine through, which make up for its shortcomings. What’s more, you get to indulge in rocket jumping, and it’s way more accessible and forgiving. The best part? Your own blasts won’t hurt you. Which just means you get to knock yourself out on mastering the art of rocket gymnastics!

A high price to pay?

Available at $39.90, you can also purchase seasonal battle passes and individual items — character skins, blast-off tails — as micro transactions from a cash shop. While it’s purely aesthetics, you can get these items with its in-game currency. Which is basically a norm for shooter games.

Space for exploration

With full cross-play support cross consoles, Final Strike Games have also shared plans to keep Rocket Arena updated with seasons of new content. It’s only just the beginning for Rocket Arena, and this means that the only way for them to go is up! Talks of new characters, maps, and even game modes are underway. Wondering if it’s worth your time, money and effort? As it stands now, Rocket Arena  is a fresh and approachable take on shooters that’s worth every bang for your buck.

4/5 stars

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