When Nexon initially announced Rocket Arena, I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, tell a lie, the first thought I had was that Nexon and developer Final Strike Games were trying to cash in on the colossal failure of LawBreakers with their own brightly colored hero shooter. However, having spent an entire weekend glued to the game, I can say that it’s a little bit of that and more.
So what is Rocket Arena? In short, it’s an arena shooter where players hash it out in a number of different game modes, the kicker is that everyone is armed to the teeth with rockets which can not only be used in battle but as a traversal tool. Furthermore, players aren’t “killed” in Rocket Arena as it adopts a similar damage mechanic as Super Smash Bros. in that players must accumulate damage before being able to punt their foes out of the arena.
As for the LawBreakers comparison, I’ll admit its a bit of a stretch, mostly because of the game mode Rocketball, which is not unlike LawBreakers BlitzBall, plus the game’s mid-air movement feels somewhat the same too, though that’s mostly due to the Quake-style rocket boosting.
One of the main things that stood out to me with Rocket Arena was the fact that there’s no death. If you manage to accumulate enough damage to be blasted out of the arena, you simply float back down to continue your assault. Depending on where you’ve blasted away, you might also bounce around the arena for a bit, which is actually pretty hilarious. It’s a really kid-friendly, yet it doesn’t feel like a dumbed-down game for kids, as at times, there’s some deep strategy involved.
Much like any other hero shooter you’ll find nowadays, Rocket Arena comes with its own ensemble cast of characters each with their own special abilities. While everyone was equipped with some sort of rocket or bomb to fire, as well as secondary abilities, some are just alternative ways to blow up the enemy, others were items with massive areas of effect. There are also movement abilities, whether that’s being able to toss a grapple to gain some distance or morph into a weird land-dwelling water mantis.
Movement is one of the most important things in Rocket Arena, and it’s something that takes a bit to grasp. While you can run around the arena, you’ll find that rocket boosting yourself everywhere makes for much more compelling gameplay. Firing at the ground gives you a good bit of momentum, plus the addition of a triple jump means you can gain high ground quite quickly. This does leave you vulnerable, however, so it takes some fine tuning to really get it down.
Character designs were also fairly unique, even if they look like they’ve fallen out of the latest DreamWorks picture. Considering many will compare any future hero shooter against Overwatch, Rocket Arena actually has little resemblance to Blizzard’s popular title, which is a huge relief.
Rocket Arena also featured three game modes, Knockout, which was essentially a ticket-based Team Deathmatch mode and the other two, Rocketball and Megarocket, were more objective-based. With Knockout, players each begin the game with three rocket badges with the objective of knocking out different players so they lose their three. The team with the most badges at the end wins.
What made this interesting was that, despite losing all of my badges, I could continue playing and supporting my team by helping eliminate other players. This once again boosts the game’s more accessible and kid-friendly gameplay as you’re not penalized for losing your badges and having to sit out until the game ends, you can continue playing, regardless. Okay, your team might lose and that is a little disappointing, but you’ve all had the same amount of time playing the game, which I found really enjoyable.
As for the other two game modes, they both involve players securing an objective. Rocketball is basically football with rockets. Players begin the game dashing for a ball attempting to throw or run through the opponent’s goal. Megarocket, on the other hand, is similar to Headquarters in Call of Duty. There’s an objective on the map and players must capture and hold it for as long as possible.
While Knockouts aren’t as important in these games, they do benefit by keeping players away for a couple of seconds as they descend back down onto the playing field. I did quickly find out, however, that focusing on trying to KO rather than the objective usually resulted in failure.
Now obviously the mention of it being accessible and kid-friendly might be enough to put some people off, but honestly, this is the most fun I’ve had in an online multiplayer game for some time. It’s super easy to pick up, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play, and the game modes are unique enough to be interesting outside of the usual multiplayer hubbub.
Rocket Arena is set to land on PC and Xbox One soon and will be free-to-play.