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February 25, 2011

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Robot Entertainment announces Orcs Must Die!

Robot Entertainment has officially announced its first game based on brand new original IP – Orcs Must Die! The game which is developed for the PC platform will be released later this year and is all about killing Orcs!

Check out the awesome trailer:
Remember ES along with some other community and press folks got the opportunity to play the game as part of a sneak peak community summit last week at the Robot Entertainment studio based in Plano, Texas. Not only were we able to play the game first hand we got to speak with some of the bots to get the scoop on the art style and design of Orcs Must Die!

I have so much to say about Orcs Must Die so I will be splitting my preview up into 5 categories as follows:

  • Gameplay
  • Art & Design
  • Why not an RTS?
  • Robot Entertainment, Orcs Must Die and the future
  • Community questions

To kick off the preview I’ll start with an overview of Orcs Must Die and you’ll also be able to find some links at the bottom of this post to previews by other attendees at the summit.

So what is Orcs Must Die?

Orcs Must Die is simply all about killing Orcs as quickly as possible! You may remember the door which was being broken down as part of a teaser on the Robot Entertainment site earlier this week. In the game you play a character called the War Mage who has been tasked with defending a number of towers against invasions of Orcs after they break through the door of the towers defences. The players job is to find out the best way of defending the tower against the Orcs before they reach the gateway. As you may expect, this involves a little bit of strategy but the game is not an RTS. Robot Entertainment is branching out into new territory here.

In Orcs Must Die players try to stop the Orcs from reaching gateway. To do this players have a number of weapons, traps and magic at their disposal. Before the game starts players can navigate around the map working out the best areas to place strategic traps to help stop the army of Orcs from reaching the gateway. These traps may be things like spikes in the floor, arrows shooting from the walls and massive maces which swing from the ceiling. There is even a very cool flip switch trap which throws Orcs across the map. It is important to choose the best places for the traps as you only have a limited amount of money to spend on traps. If you put the wrong type of traps in the wrong places your game will be harder, get the traps right and it’ll be much easier. So there is a good strategy element there as you would expect from a studio formed out of Ensemble!

Once you have placed all your traps you can start the game and the Orcs will bash through the door. From there you can watch the Orcs plough through and get totally destroyed by your (hopefully!) well placed traps. If things start to get hairy it’s time to move into a more traditional RPG combat mode using weapons such as swords and crossbows to keep the Orcs at bay. Be careful though, getting up close and personal with the Orcs put you at risk from death as you lose health from being hit by Orcs. Aside from hand weapons you can also make use of magic such as fire spells to help push back the Orcs. You only have a limited amount of magic in your magic meter and if you run out, you’ll still need your trusty hand weapons. Each Orc you kill gets you points which can be used to spend on more traps for the next round. The best players will be able to defeat all the Orcs as close to the start point as possible.

Whats it like?

Having played the game first hand I can tell you that Orcs is a whole lot of fun! It may not be an RTS but it’s still got the “Ensemble” feel, there is still a level of strategy needed if you want to get the highest scores. It’s very fun to meticulously plan your strategy for keeping the Orcs at bay and its particularly satisfying to see your devious traps come into effect totalling annihilating the Orcs. You can also make use of the landscape to your advantage including dropping chandeliers from the ceiling and huge wooden logs rolling down staircases. The game has some excellent physics effects as Orcs literally explode into pieces on impact  – it’s not necessarily the game for children!

One of the great things about Orcs is that it has a whole lot of replay value, once you complete a level you want to go back again and try an even better way. The levels lend themselves to multiple strategies and you can even spice things up with a number of different ideas, perhaps you’ll try the level using only flip switches, or only magic, you might even come up with your own deadly combination which you can adapt depending on the landscape.

I have played all the Age games plus Halo Wars, if anyone is worried that this departure from the traditional Ensemble style formula of RTS games, you don’t need to worry. The game is created by the same designers, producers and team which are working on Age Online right now. These guys know how to create games which are fun to play. Orcs is definitely something you are going to want to check out when it launches.

In a future blog I’ll be going into the gameplay in more detail discussing the weapons, traps magic and things like the user interface, control scheme and general fun factor. So stay tuned to Remember ES!

When and where is Orcs coming?

Orcs is going to be released on the PC using Steamworks for certain. Other types of digital distribution may be considered. At this time it doesn’t look like there will be any physical retail boxes. Once the game has been launched for PC Robot Entertainment are looking at other platforms such as Xbox Live Arcade and PSN. Robot has not announced any firm plans to launch on these console platforms, but I hope they do to get Orcs on as many markets as possible.

As for launch date, Orcs will be hitting Steam this year. No firm release dates have been announced beyond that.

What next?

Leading up the launch of or Orcs Must Die later this year you are going to want to stay tuned to RobotEntertainment.com and Remember-EnsembleStudios.com more than ever. I imagine Robot will be launching some exciting video footage demonstrating some of the awesome traps and magic available in the game. Plus I imagine some very interesting Robot blogs are on the horizon!

Over at Remember ES I’ll be having rolling content for Orcs Must Die over the coming weeks. I’ll be covering the game in detail based on my first hand experiences of playing the game from an Age / Halo Wars fan perspective. I’ll also be looking into what Orcs Must Die means for Robot and the future direction of the game and studio. So stay tuned and keep checking back.

You can also find me on the Robot Entertainment forums. If you would like to ask me a question about my experience with the game drop me a PM and I’ll cover it!

More information

If you are so excited to get more information and can’t wait for Remember ES’s upcoming parts then check out some of these links below. All of these links are blogs /articles of people who have been at Robot Entertainment and played the game.

Keep an eye on Remember ES  for part 2 focussing on the Gameplay of Orcs Must Die next week!

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Related posts:

  1. Robot Entertainment reveals Orcs Must Die interactive video!
  2. Age of Empires Online beta draws to a close, plus new Orcs Must Die previews and wins for Robot at RTS-Guru
  3. Orcs Must Die – trap spotlight: Wind Belt

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