A lot of discussion has taken place about the length of games recently due to the recent release of the overly long The Last of Us 2 and some choice tweets. As a grown man with two kids and three jobs the time commitment of games is something I grapple with daily. I used to be a die-hard Madden player and would fight in local competitions playing Street Fighter. Now, I can’t commit to the 40 minutes or more needed to complete a game of Madden. I still dabble in fighting games a lot but the learning curve and time investment needed to be competitive is beyond me now. I enjoy competitive games and frankly I need the outlet but the time commitment needed for them is a huge road block.
The Battle Royale explosion has been a nightmare for me. The pacing in battle royale games is horrible. You fall into a match with nothing, run around alone for 20 minutes , find a gun. and die. No thanks. But the times are changing and a new competitive outlet has arrived! I have finally found hope in my longing for a bite sized competitive experience and it’s the new hero shooter Rocket Arena. Full disclosure, I didn’t buy Rocket Arena outright. I am one of the tens of people with EA Origins Premier subscription on PC. I pay for it Origin Premier monthly for Madden but sometimes it drops gems. Rocket Arena is one of those games. This game has matches that last 5 to 10 minutes long…regardless of game mode. I spent half an hour playing Rocket Arena and had completed five matches in multiple game modes. It was amazing. It scratched my competitive itch and I was able to get back to my crying baby or work e-mails. If you aren’t aware of what Rocket Arena is, that’s not surprising because EA just kind of shadow dropped it into the ether…oh man…this game has Battleborn (not enough support and died too soon) written all over it and I enjoyed that one too.
Rocket Arena is a hero shooter where everybody has rockets. You play in really cramped, slightly vertical arenas that allow you to rocket jump or rocket climb so you can get a good vantage point to fire your rockets. The cast is beautiful and diverse. It hits all of the Overwatch tropes you expect with the characters. The game feels amazing, it’s super easy to kill people and move around the arenas. You have a main shot, a side move and a special move. You can dodge as well and it’s all balanced with cool down timers. You have ranked matches and a social area. Ranked has a playlist that randomly drops into game modes. It has 3 v 3 death match, Rocket Ball (grab a ball and go to the goal and score), and Rocket Grab or something rocket themed (hold the area for your team and score a point). These modes are all chaotic and fun. They are really fun if you’re bad at shooters like me. Ranked seems to push everybody into Rocket Ball. I’ve become very good at it and it’s a game mode where I can be useful to my team of 3 without having to kill a lot of opponents. It’s great.
In social mode you can practice, play exhibition matches of 3 v. 3 death match and you can play this sort of horde mode where your team of three has to kill all the Rocketbots. I love the Rocketbot matches. Kill 30 Rocketbots within the time limit and don’t die 3 times or you lose. Social also has Arena Mode that throws you into random game modes. The most enjoyable game mode of all is Treasure Hunt. In treasure hunt your team of three gets coins for holding onto to the treasure chest for up to 25 seconds. After the 25 seconds is up the game shifts into coin rush mode which is a Mario-esque mode where you run around the stage and grab coins. The music playing sounds like Mario music that plays in 3D Mario games where you have to collect the red coins before the time is up…it’s amazing. The first team to 250 coins wins.
The game also has a Smash Brothers mechanic dictating when you die where you have a meter that fills up as you take damage and your character flies farther the higher the meter gets. You’ll KO when you fly too far off the map. You have recovery options much like Smash as well. In ranked mode, you rank up for rewards. Every match you fight in social and ranked level up your characters. This is a nice touch because even social matches have value with this system.
Rocket Arena shines because you can experience all the game has to offer without huge time commitments. It feels like an arcade game. Walk up to the arcade cabinet drop in your quarter have some fun and leave as quickly as you want and you leave feeling like you experienced the game in a meaningful way. Each game has a time limit or a hard score limit. In Rocket Ball the first team to score five points wins or whoever has the lead when the time ends. The quick matches make losing much less of a pain. I don’t mind jumping back into a game after a loss if the loss only took 5 minutes. Losing a game of Madden takes an hour. Losing after committing an hour to a game is soul crushing. The short matches also guarantee that I won’t quick mid-match. I’d rather just play out losses and level up my character.
Rocket Arena is also graphically beautiful. It’s well optimized for PC, colorful, with great sound design… it’s worth checking out. Rocket Arena looks like a hyper polished free to play but then smacks you in the face with a 30 dollar price tag. I have very little faith in this game making waves. It’s thirty dollars when it should be free to play and it isn’t topping the charts on any streaming sites. The game also has a paid season one Battle Pass which is insane considering it already cost money to access the game. I personally think the game is worth the money but it’s competing in a space where the normal price is Free. I really hope EA sticks with it, maybe adds more horde mode and PvE content as well. That said, this game has it’s hooks in me and I love it because it respects me as an adult with time constraints! Check Rocket Arena out!