Rockets: They’re capsules of high octane fuel, primed to travel any distance in the shortest time possible and deliver an explosive payload on delivery. Simple, efficient and rarer than hen’s teeth in just about any video games. What if I told you that there was a game where said rockets were the primary currency in games of athletic explosions, a tool that can be used to traverse harsh terrain and existed in abundance?
You’d probably call me mad but bear with me! Rocket Arena is that game, a collection of various ideas all bolted down and greased up in a heavy duty engine of chaotic combustion. It’s both a hero shooter and a league of rockets, a live service arena blaster with a family-friendly approach that values safe fun and visuals over bloody explosions of human frames that drenches the battlefield in crimson.
It’s a solid new entry in a competitive genre…but I’m still wondering if it has the long legs needed to take on competitors who offer a more established service at a freemium price point.
Before we get to the doubt, let’s chat about what Rocket Arena does best. There’s no denying that it mashes up a lot of game ideas into a single frame, but it does so with charm and confidence. Beneath the friendly visage is a game that is an arena shooter, long distance fisticuffs simulator and packed with plenty of unique heroes.
Everyone’s got a particular style of play to sink your teeth into, from Jayto’s Jack of all trades rocket pistol firing action to speedy anarchy on a hoverboard through characters such as Rev. There’s depth here, a whole lot of it through the current cast of 11 rocketeers and mastering each unique facet of their abilities (Movement, special skills and signature weapons), on top of rocket-based navigation and sending your opposition flying out of the arena with a Smash Bros. style ejection.
That’s the key focus where Rocket Arena hopes to set itself apart from the rest of the competition, as there’s a certain thrill to chasing your opponent’s counter and nailing them with that one last shot that does them in. Provided you aren’t caught in the splash zone of someone else’s attack, that is. Triple jumps and a quick dodge results in agile V2 delivery while airborne, which also comes in handy when a stunlock is applied to your gladiator.
Every level is also a character, littered with power-ups and choke points above advantageous sky arenas, pushing you to carefully gauge every rocket fired and special ability activated. It’s undeniably gorgeous stuff, with Rocket Arena boasting a Saturday morning cartoon appeal that is probably best played from the comfort of your living room floor, in your pyjamas and while jacked up on a bowl of sugar-infused cereal.
You’ve also got a fab selection of modes to try out: Regular deathmatch sees you blasting away at opponents until a set score has been reached, Rocketbot Attack is PvE action that’s is as fun as it’s challenging and Rocketball is the star of the show. Capture the flag, but with a football twist as you brave a barrage of enemy fire to score a goal in a best of five game.
Rocket Arena also benefits from feeling like a complete game: There’s no half-arsed approach to a day one launch, only a solid selection of characters, modes and maps that’ll grab your eyes for hours if that happens to be your sort of thing. Every character has a story to tell, outfits to earn from a currency that can be easily accrued instead of miserly hidden away by a tight-fisted market and the artefacts within the deeper guts of Rocket Arena are well worth exploring if you’re looking to get an edge on the competition that plays to your strengths.
Here’s the thing: As much as I like Rocket Arena, it’s a hard sell. There’s no pay to win mechanics on offer, but there is an initial buy-in price for the 3v3 games of chaotic explosions amongst a varied cast of wonderfully balanced lunatics. Ranking up, scoring new gear and unlocking fancy new threads is still a fantastic hook on which to reel in some fans, while developer Final Strike Games has a game plan in mind that is ambitiously detailed (more on that in a few days).
There’s a great game on offer, one of pure pandemonium, refined ideas and new takes on familiar themes, but Rocket Arena’s biggest challenge is going to lie in convincing an increasingly jaded audience that not only is their game worth devoting hours to, but also well worth the initial investment required.
Last Updated: July 13, 2020