Breaking into team-based shooters is a difficult task. Games such as "Overwatch" and "Counter-Strike Global Offensive" suck up all the oxygen in the room. Add in Riot Games' latest release "Valorant" and it can be difficult to stand out from the pack.
Nevertheless, Electronic Arts is jumping into the fray by publishing "Rocket Arena" from Final Strike Games. The third-person shooter launches on July 14 and will follow a path similar to "Overwatch." That means it will release initially with 10 playable characters, 10 maps and five modes of play with plans to expand on all three.
"Rocket Arena" takes place on Crater, a planet dense with history, different cultures and an unhealthy obsession with rockets. Players choose one of the heroes and join a team of three in battles across several arenas. Despite being a shooter, the project has more in common with fighting games such as "Super Smash Bros."
The title has a family-friendly approach as players blast each other rockets, but opponents never explode into a bloody mess. Instead, they have a blast meter that rises as they take damage. Once it's full and if they're hit with a rocket, they'll be megablasted out of the arena and they'll fly around to a new starting point.
It's comparable to being knocked off the stage in "Super Smash Bros.," and similar to that, there are ways to avoid being knocked out. If players can avoid damage for a while, they can have their meter drop after a few seconds. If they're reeling and teetering on the edge of the arena, they can save themselves if they picked the right character use their special abilities to interrupt their trajectory and fall back to earth.
In addition, each character has his or her own stage. That's content more commonly seen in fighting games than competitive shooters.
Character choice matters a lot in "Rocket Arena." Each hero has a distinct style of play that's reflected in the properties of their rockets, their movement and their special abilities. Those play into their role in this three-versus-three team-based shooter.
Take Izell for instance. She's made for aggression and close-up fighting with her quick firing and short-ranged spear rockets and her bola snare that pulls rivals toward her. The Jaaqua Charge move helps close the distance between foes. Meanwhile, Blastbeard has a slow but powerful project that's harder to aim as it arcs in the air. His Charged Anchor secondary attack knocks opponents back while his Shockwave ability pushes foes away while also destroying incoming rockets. He excels at holding an area on the map.
The teams of three will have to coordinate their talents in four player-vs-player modes: Knockout, Rocketball, Treasure Hunt and Megarocket. The rule sets benefit certain characters so it's important to choose the right ones for the map and mode.
Knockout is comparable to a team deathmatch. The team that knocks the most opponents out of the arena or hits the limit wins.