ROCKETS feature in a lot of first-person shooter games, typically fired from some sort of bazooka or maybe in the form of a jetpack.
Some games, like this one, have both – which you’d think would be a recipe for awesomeness, but sadly isn’t in this case.
Developed by Final Strike games and published by EA for PC and console, Rocket Arena is, broadly, a 3 vs 3 multiplayer combat game where everyone has some sort of rocket-inspired aspect to them – rocket boots, rocket packs, rocket weapons, something like that.
It’s a neat concept and the visuals accompanying it are great too, but something clearly went awry in the mission preparation phase as the game just doesn’t deliver an out-of-this-world experience.
The basic elements are all there and they all work – from the different heroes and maps and match options – but it just didn’t quite come together for me in an engaging way.
For a start, you don’t really make much use of the rocket jumping abilities, which seems odd in a game about rockets.
There weren’t any sniper ledges I saw that could only be reached by judicious rocket jumping, leaping high in the air didn’t really seem to offer much tactical advantage, and it just didn’t really seem to capitalise on its overall “Rockets!” concept as well as it could.
My entire play experience was accompanied by a strong “I’ve already played this game” feeling, because there’s already a couple of similar games on the market – particularly Blizzard’s Overwatch.
The fact no-one dies and there’s no blood is a nice change of pace – after all, the heroes all look like they’re from one of the countless generic streaming TV cartoon series my kids like, so the developers have done well going for a consistent tone there.
I hate to say it, but I’m not entirely sure why this game exists. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, the maps are too small to allow for much in the way of strategy, and just getting a game going takes ages because of the low player numbers – and even when you can get a match happening, the ping (time it takes for the signal to get from your computer to the server and back) is too high for a decent experience, and then there’s the fact there’s already microtransactions in the game.
There’s potential here for a few hours of fun – assuming you can find a match, which I frequently couldn’t, even with cross-play enabled – but I honestly can’t see it establishing itself as a serious contender in the long term, which is sad because the developers have clearly put a lot of work into the game.
I see what Final Strike were doing by tying to create an accessible hero shooter – the basic idea is solid and the visuals are appealing, but the hero-based shooter market is a crowded one which this game fails to blast itself through.
Having been disappointed with the initial launch, I fired up the game again before finalising this review to see if much had changed and struggled to get matches going, despite trying both social and ranked categories. As well as matchmaking timing out, in one case there was a seven minute wait for a match and my ping was over 190 – making the match incredibly one-sided as the other team blasted me out of the arena time and time again whilst seemingly taking minimal damage from my own rockets.
According to SteamApps figures, the game has never had more than 1,102 active players on the platform and in the 24 hours before I filed the review had peaked at 75 concurrent players. While those are only the figures for Steam, and do not include players on Origin, PlayStation or Xbox, it’s pretty clear there just isn’t a playerbase to support Rocket Arena as it currently is – so I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone buy this game.
I hate saying it, but this rocket is a failure to launch and not worth getting aboard.