Orcs Must Die 3 is an action tower defense game and the latest installment of Robot Entertainment's series. I absolutely loved the first Orcs Must Die for Xbox Live Arcade but is this a worthy sequel and does it meet the high expectations of tower defense fans?
You play as a war-mage for the Order which is a society of mages who act as a defense force against the orcs... or, something like that. Max was the hero of the first Orcs Must Die, during which he stood alone against hordes of orcs. Now, Max has gone missing and we now have 3 new characters to keep us company: Egan, Kelsey, and the Sorceress. Egan and Kelsey are Order apprentices and the Sorceress is their master. We also get to glimpse into the Order's past: Cygnus and Vorwick were legendary war-mages who fought against the orc horde and were able to hold them back. After, Vorwick went missing and no one knows what happened to him. The plot is a bit barebones and leaves a lot of loose ends. Why do orcs want access to the rifts so badly and why does the Order have to stop them? What's the deal with Order rifts and Orc rifts? How did Egan ever become a war-mage with his attitude? Sorry, that was a bad joke.
Anyway, orcs want to get into the rifts and you have to stop them from getting in. That's the whole thing with Orcs Must Die; you place traps along the orcs' path to the rift. Hopefully, the traps will kill them but if they don't, you can always do the job yourself. Starting out, you can place wall traps that shoot darts or ground-based spike traps. If you started as Egan, you get a magic bow but if you picked Kelsey, you get a Blunderbuss which is a shotgun-like weapon. As you can tell by the screenshots, I picked Kelsey.
For each mission you complete, you're awarded skulls which you can use to increase your arsenal of traps, weapons, or unlock useful trinkets that have beneficial effects such as restoring your health. Instead, you can use them to unlock upgrades for your existing items and each weapon and trap has 4 potential upgrades including one special upgrade which you unlock by achieving something like, for example, using that trap to deal a certain amount of damage. By the way, there are 36 different traps, 10 weapons, and 7 trinkets for you to try which is absolutely ludicrous. I haven't even had the chance to try out all of them in the few days that I've been playing.
Once you progress far enough into the campaign, barricades will probably be an important part of your strategy. Orcs always go around barricades as long as they have a clear path to the rift. If they don't then the orcs will start attacking your barricades which you probably don't want to happen. Although they are quite expensive, barricading the orcs' path is almost always strategically desirable because it lets you battle the orcs at a choke point as opposed to many places at once. You can also use your barricades with other traps which opens the door for some powerful combinations. For instance, you could slow the horde with tar while your archers shoot volleys of arrows and snow blowers freeze them in place. With 36 different traps to choose from, there are many creative ways to slaughter orcs.
War missions are a new addition to Orcs Must Die 3. Usually in war missions, the rift is located inside a castle and you have to defend the rift against huge orc armies which is awesome! War missions also let you use Cygnus's war machines; among them are catapults, giant flip traps, squads of archers, knights, and giant ice traps. That certainly opens up new strategies during these special missions! However, it's definitely possible to beat these missions without using any war machines at all but where's the fun in that? Anyway, my favorite is the catapult. Although it's only viable in the first couple of war missions, it's a lot of fun blasting orcs to smithereens from a distance.
Besides the 2 campaigns that include 23 missions, here's a breakdown of the other 3 gameplay modes:
- Endless mode pits you against increasingly difficult waves of orcs. The waves never end so you can just keep on going until the orcs eventually overwhelm you.
- Scramble mode lets you play through 5 increasingly difficult campaign missions. However, you have to choose random modifiers such as melee weapons deal more damage, increased money from multipliers, increased enemy movement speed, and every wave has additional elemental lords.
- Weekly challenges add a new challenge for you to play every week. Your hero and trap loadout is already set so you have to think of new strategies. You can also play previous weekly challenges if you wish.
Anyway, Orcs Must Die 3 is about what you would expect from a game in the series. Even though I haven't played the second game, this sequel still retains the same core gameplay that I remember from the original iteration. It even has the same traps from the original; with a few exceptions. The 2 big differences are the inclusion of large-scale war missions and that there are many different traps and weapons to choose from. I wish there was more gameplay innovation, though. Killing orcs is always fun but I just wish there was something different to do as well; perhaps a couple of platformer-style stages where you don't have to worry about placing traps. Online 2-player co-op is supported, too, but I'd thoroughly enjoy a map editor or some sort of PvP mode as well.
Orcs Must Die 3 provides excellent orc-killing mayhem. With many imaginative traps and weapons, tower defense fans are sure to find something that catches their fancy. Plus, its gameplay is similar to the original so you enjoyed that, you're sure to love this, too.
- + Same great gameplay as the original with tons of new traps, weapons, and trinkets
- + Extra modes will keep you busy
- + Funny and unique characters
- - No PvP option or map editor
- - Modes don't deviate much gameplay-wise
- - No one likes fliers in tower defense games