Orcs Must Die! Unchained Exclusive Press Tour
We were fortunate enough to be invited to a personal press tour of Orcs Must Die! Unchained, from Gameforge and Robot Entertainment, the fantasy themed MOBA meets tower defense free to play MMO currently in closed beta. By the way, check out this giveaway for the game!
For our meet up with folks at Gameforge we were going to be shown the new implementations from the second beta phase patch and get the chance to try out the game, which we haven’t done since we played the original Alpha back in January 2014 and the closed beta phase 1 back at last year’s GamesCom. Meeting up on Skype we were introduced to Gameforge European Senior Producer Sean Heffron, a man who would become our brother in arms and the guide for the tour walking goes through the various elements of the game and new content.
We were somewhat familiar with the gameplay and mechanics already having played the game twice previously and run through the tutorial prior to our press tour, we also checked out the Deck Editor which Sean gave us a little more of a run down on. Being given access to a max level 40 account we had access to all the cards and traits that players will work towards unlocking in the game, meaning we had the ability to create our perfect build, though as with Trading Card Games we could create multiple builds based around the class/Hero we want to play that day. Planning on playing a magic caster Hero we picked up some gear pieces to help with that (players get two gear items), seven unique traps, eight minions which can be sorted by level (1-4) and two bosses which will be available when a Warcamps reaches level 3. Heading over to the Trait Builder we were faced with a huge selection of different traits, each one having three different tiers players can unlock acquire them through the Chest system earned after completing battles or purchased through premium chests. The Trait cards work alongside the Stat Builds, with five different stats that increase the number of coins or leadership players acquire (spent to place traps or upgrade Warcamps), increase in attack damage, Max and mana or Max health, and players gain a Stats Point each time they level up their account (to a max level of 40) and can place their points wherever they wish. However, each trait card has a requirement before players can add it to their build such as needing 5 Fortitude and 5 Spirit to unlock the “Afraid To Leave Home 1” trait, which is upgraded to 10 Fortitude and 10 Spirit for the “Afraid To Leave Home 2” trait and 15/15 for rank 3; players can have a maximum of four trait cards equipped at any one time for their build.
Unfortunately for us none of this matters as we forgot to select our build and deck after we had selected our Hero and so went into the game with no traits and a starter deck…
Looking over the roster of Heroes we had a choice of 12, knowing we want to focus on a mage it was Cygnus: The Master of the Order that caught our eye, though we were promptly informed that he was one of the more advanced Heroes ideal for more experienced players. Undeterred we chose him anyway; he was labelled as a Defender, something new that has been added with the patch where all Heroes now fall into an Attacker or Defender role (albeit players are still able to step out of these roles from time to time). One of the other advantages players get with having a defined role is that Attackers get a larger starting pool of Leadership to open the Warcamps whereas Defenders get more coins to spend on placing down traps.
Our battle took place on the familiar Cliffside Clash battle map, which is the only map currently available with a second one still being worked on, though the map has been tweaked with the patch to include objects being coloured in certain areas so it is easier to quickly realise whose zone/territory you are in. Also the map has new escape lanes that can be found on the outside Cliffside lanes where attackers are able to jump down from the castle window outside the enemy rift room and run along the beach, making a few courageous leaps, and get all the way back to their own Warcamp as opposed to having to fight back down the lanes.
So looking over Cygnus he has two primary mouse bound abilities, an electric bolt that I could constantly fire with the left mouse button, and a smaller cooldown area lightning attack on the right mouse button. My quick skills included the ability to replenish my mana over time (which would normally require returning to your rift room) and the ability to drop to the floor and feign death (an in-joke from the previous Orcs Must Die! games where players would often speculate that Cygnus was in fact dead).
Sean told us that usually takes players are good five games before they get to grips with the mechanics and what they should do tactically, this seems about right as it is only with reflection on our battle that we can see where we went wrong. Also often we were building up coins and leadership points, holding them for longer than we should have, instead of helping to open the Warcamps and place down traps to help defences. Second to this is getting used to the mini map, keeping an eye out where the action is happening and who needs our help the most; those who are familiar/experience with MOBA would probably do a much better job of this.
This Summoning the first wave of minions from the Fortress War camp (Warcamps are now known as Fortress and Helmet to help people differentiate between them easier) we escorted our minions into the first trap room, without too much guidance were pretty much left to our own devices for the most part, though in reflection which is probably made a beeline to our own killbox room to place down our traps (oops…). Picking up our first bits of XP we levelled up quickly, a new system to
OMD:U but one that is seen seen in other MOBA games, where every two levels players get to increase specific traits to improve their character.
Heading to our trap room area we started to put down a few traps, unfortunately as we had the newbie deck we simply had a bunch of Spike traps, which weren’t all that useful in comparison to some of the awesome traps other players were putting down. Late in the game it was only in hindsight we realise that our poor traps were taking up room space and filling up the Trap Cap, stopping players from putting down better traps. I asked if other players could remove my traps, which they couldn’t, and this opened up a discussion from Sean asking what our opinion was on whether it should be allowed as it is something that is heavily discussed on the forums. Personally we feel that it should be an option that you can turn on or off as part of the game or when starting out have the team vote on a team captain who is able to manage and maintain the rooms and sell other players traps (alternatively make this a Defender only ability).
The traps have actually been revamped, removing a lot of the original Spike traps at the behest of the community, a lot more thought has been put into them as well as adding a lot of utility traps that can benefit players and minions such as speed boosts, heals and more. Players can also in place down barricades to helpful minions through the kill box, albeit certain minions are able to jump barricades.
After a few waves both teams had managed to open up a tier three Warcamp, when this happens the first time players spawn a free Boss, from both teams the Captain spawned with his huge battering ram back and smashed through doors and defences and if you take down the enemy boss get a boost of coins and leadership; the look pretty awesome.
The game seemed pretty balanced quite a while, we kept going off on a little missions and the highlight for all is was going up against one of the Gameforge ladies called Cmsis playing the sorceress Smoulder. In a one on one fight on one of the outer lanes, both with full health, we managed to take her out and dropped her with a cheer, as we started running back to base Sean informed us that she has a phoenix ability to bring herself back to life! We headed back and she promptly wailed on us, just as we were about to die we managed to pull off Feint Death. Over Skype we hear her call out “I’m sorry!” and Sean replier “For what? He used Feign Death!” and the sudden shout of “Seriously?!”, laughing I replied “At least MY death was feigned!”. Extremely fun.
The game lasted 45 minutes in total, pretty long in comparison (usually around 20-30 mins), but was fun each and every minute, even though it finally resulted in our defeat; I blame myself for that and I didn’t do too bad contributing my fair share of kills and assists, but being completely unprepared. The game is most definitely in a release state, but the team say there are the odd bug and refinement issues they want to sort out, as well as working with the community on the changed and suggestions they want to see, but are hoping for an August open beta and release shortly after with the PS4 release to follow. We can’t wait!