Orcs Must Die! and its sequel both follow the same formula, mixing up tower defence mechanics with action RPG shenanigans - the only major difference between the two being the co-op made added in the latter.
For the third game in the series, Orcs Must Die! Unchained, developer Robot Entertainment is mixing it up quite a bit, throwing in competitive multiplayer, 5v5 matches, bots and a free-to-play model.
The previous games have been all about defending areas with magical and violent traps, peppered throughout winding, sometimes multi-levelled mazes. But Unchained adds in an offensive element. Players and their AI chums can take the battle to the enemy, dealing with enemy traps and eventually getting into the opposing fortress. “We’ve been calling it a fortress siege game,” says CEO Patrick Hudson.
And instead of restricting players to one or two characters, Unchained will throw dozens of heroes at players, split between two factions. The Order are the humans, the only faction from the first two games, but Unchained introduces playable monsters, the titular Unchained. Heroes will be role-based, with particular strengths like DPS-focused characters or heroes that can assist allies by applying buffs.
All of the items and minions heroes can utilise come in the form of cards, so there’s an element of deck-building going on. “We took Spell Book idea for that and used it as the basis for what we’re doing with the cards,” says Fischer. “It’s not just traps, because we have offense in the game now too. All of the things we have set up for the hero, we use cards for. It’s traps, it’s minions, it’s equipment on your hero.”
The shift to F2P is a pragmatic one. “You’re not going to get people paying for downloads in Asia and Russia,” says Hudson. But cards won’t be locked behind a pay-wall. League of Legends’ model is being used for inspiration.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained will be at PAX East, so if you’re there, take a peek and slaughter as many orcs as you can. And you can buy it now via the Founders program, which nets you early access.