It is imperative that the Orcs perish....again! The recently announced follow-up to last fall's Orcs Must Die! is present and playable at this year's PAX East, and the folks over at Robot Entertainment were so kind to give me a thorough tour.
Full disclosure: I love Orcs Must Die!. I bought the original as part of a promotion on Steam and didn't count on putting much time beyond earning the required achievement. I'm more of a rush-in, guns-a-blazin' type of gal, which probably plays into my general dislike for strategy titles. Pre-blogging days, my gaming was pure distraction, and I disliked having to think too much. As such, button mashers were more my thing. While my tastes have evolved and strategy now plays a huge part in my enjoyment of a game, I think Orcs Must Die! was a beautiful transition between the two. The third person perspective and ability to use combat almost disguised the strategy aspect, and I appreciate that I can vary my dependence between tactics depending on my mood. With addicting gameplay, a vibrant aesthetic, and a mischievous premise, this is one title I knew I'd welcome a sequel from.
While watching my fellow attendees play, the changes initially struck me as DLC material; extra spells and traps, a new playable character, and the much heralded new mode--but no real aesthetic or gameplay changes. Hands-on, however, it was clear there was more than what initially meets the eye. Certainly the most important change is the new two player co-op mode, a wonderful addition for those levels with more than one Orc entry point. With the mode comes new character the Sorceress, who, in keeping with the game's use of medieval tropes, uses magic-based missile attacks. Her secondary attack, known as Charm, is used to hypnotize Orcs into fighting on her behalf. She shares many of the same traps and spells with the War Mage, but both will have a few that are character specific.
With the sequel also comes some physics improvements, primarily with the Orcs. Previously, a fallen Orc or one launched through the air wouldn't properly trigger traps. With the improved ragdoll physics, an Orc will suffer the effects of traps no matter his state at the time. The Orcs are also now more diverse, with light, medium, and heavy versions. The environments also seem more interactive; for instance on one level, I was able to trigger a switch to transfer incoming minecarts onto different rails, eliminating Orcs without having to use a trap or attack. Trinkets, a new addition to the series, will give both an active and passive effect to aid the player in battle.
I found Orcs Must Die! 2 very enjoyable, and chances are if you like the first you'll like the second. If you do own the original or plan to in the future, there will be some unspecified bonus content, so there's that to look forward to as well. Expect to see it sometime this summer on Steam. Sadly, it will not be making an appearance on XBLA, and there are no plans for a Mac version.