Orcs Must Die! 3 – PC Review

Orcs Must Die! 3 – PC Review
GlitchedVision
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Genre: Co-op tower defense strategy
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Robot Entertainment
Release Date: July 23rd, 2021
Edited by AlexKnight2005

Quite a few years back, Robot Entertainment made its grand debut on the gaming stage with its release of the original Orcs Must Die. It was a unique mixture of genres at the time, giving players the ability to defend a portal against waves of enemies using both their sharpshooting skills and several fun traps and other defenses. This title eventually spawned both a sequel and an attempt at a MOBA-style game using the same mechanics. Now, years later, the devs have returned to what made the first game so great, to begin with, but ramped pretty much every aspect up to eleven. With new maps, new modes, and tons of new traps and weaponry to slaughter the hordes with, the question that must be asked is if this new entry recaptures the fun of the original two games or if it’s best to skip out on this defense mission.

The story is much more present than it was in previous entries. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you care about such things. The story follows two new apprentice war mages left to defend the portals while one of the protagonists from the previous game searches for the main protagonist of the entire series as he’s gone missing, and no one knows why. Throughout the story, though, you’ll occasionally play as a couple of ancient war mages that fought in the massive war that occurred long before the story’s current events. These missions are unique. We’ll get to how later, but it’s important to know about the shift in perspective as you play through the story. It should also be noted that the Steam release includes the post-launch DLC campaign that dives even deeper into the game’s world and offers new challenges to players.

Each playable character is linked with a primary weapon that cannot be changed, but you have several active slots to fill with devastating traps and weaponry. You can freely switch between them if you bring along a secondary weapon during combat. At the start of each map, you get the chance to switch up your spellbook and fill your empty slots with traps and weapons. After this, it’s time to set up your defense. Each map has one or more entry points. The horde will follow a predetermined path from their entrance to the portal. Your goal is to prevent them from reaching the said portal. To that end, you have as much time as you need to set up some initial defenses. You won’t be able to do much at first, but as you slaughter the oncoming horde, you’ll be given even more resources to work with to expand your defenses. After each wave, you have time to develop your defenses before the next wave begins. On easier difficulty settings, this time between waves is infinite. You can start the wave whenever you’re ready, but on higher levels, you only get a few seconds between waves and might get a breather later.

The traps at your disposal are quite numerous and varied in their functions. Some are just simple spike traps and arrow launchers on the walls, while other more elaborate ones are distracting butterfly windows or devastating saw blade launchers. There are even some spring-loaded launchers capable of launching enemies off ledges or into more dangerous hazards. Many traps synergize well, like tar pits slowing down foes while also increasing the damage they take from fire-based traps. It’s a good idea to mix your damage sources because some enemies are resistant to certain types of damage. Your traps don’t have to do all the work on their own, as you also have a selection of very capable weapons and magical artifacts to assist from the front lines. Everything from a magic staff that can instantly petrify whole clusters for a couple of seconds to a melee blade staff that allows you to carve your way through the crowd easily or even a simple war bow that lays down devastating headshots. Whatever your style, you’ll find some way to get into the thick of the action yourself.

Remember those special perspective shifts I mentioned? It’s time to cover them now. These missions take place on special war maps. War maps are larger than standard maps and require special traps, only usable on these larger maps. You also have access to siege weaponry on them, allowing you to crush many foes with each shot. This is a good thing, too, because larger maps mean many more enemies. On these war maps, you’re not defending against a small number of foes but an entire army’s worth of foes all at once. The larger wave sizes and more open areas require vastly different strategies to tackle. It switches up the formula just enough to stay fresh but to be honest, I prefer the close quarters of normal maps.

Other game modes like endless and challenge modes make their return once again, but this time we also have a new scramble mode. The scramble mode adds unique modifiers that stack on top of each other to make the game harder, but with each victory also comes a powerful perk to balance the scales out again. The extras will extend the playtime for those who love chasing high scores or pushing for challenge runs but ultimately are just more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing when “the same” is just that good.

These game modes and campaign levels can be completed alone or in two-player online co-operative multiplayer. Each player can bring their trap selections to the table and work together to cover the map more thoroughly. On top of this, there is a massive list of upgrades for all your traps and weapons. These upgrades cost skulls earned from completing campaign maps or picking them up from fallen foes. Many unlockable traps and weapons can be purchased with these skills as well, but be careful what you unlock and when. You can refund all the skulls spent on upgrades, but new trap or weapon unlocks will not be refunded.

The options menu is pretty standard, with separated graphics options giving you fine control and separate audio sliders for music, sound, and voice. You can even set the camera offset, so you can shift the offset to the left or right if you don’t like your character-centered. Full control remapping for both keyboard and mouse is present, and an aim assists those who need it. It’s not a very strong one, but it serves its purpose.

I love this series and have enjoyed every game except for the MOBA-style multiplayer title. That being said, I do feel this entry falls just a bit short in some areas. Some of the returning traps don’t feel quite as punchy as they did in the previous titles, and the new war maps can add a level of frustration if you aren’t playing with a partner. Other than that, the new additions and stronger story emphasis are well worth at least giving this one a solid play-through.

Pros:

  • Fun action tower defense gameplay with traps
  • Awesome music
  • Interesting map designs

Cons:

  • The story might get annoying for some.
  • Challenging war maps may require a partner for less frustration.
  • Some traps feel flat and uninteresting.

GlitchedVision gives Orcs Must Die! 3 a Drastik Measure of 7.0 out of 10.0 (70)

Maybe not as great as past titles, but still worthy of quite a few hours of enjoyment. This is the perfect entry point for newcomers to the series and a fun return to form for long-time fans.