Orcs Must Die! Unchained marks the first time Robot Entertainment’s tower defense series Orcs Must Die! has had a console release since the original launched in 2011. Console gamers will find that the latest game in the series retains the tower defense-style gameplay that made the original popular, but it adds three player co-op, a new PvP mode, and since it’s a free-to-play title, microtransactions. It’s clear that a lot has changed since the 2011 original, but are all these changes for the better?
The answer is yes. Orcs Must Die! Unchained is just as fun as the previous two games in the series, challenging players to survive against waves of enemies on a variety of maps. Players are given time between rounds to set up traps to help stop the onslaught of enemies, and they also have access to a number of unlockable characters with different skills to help keep the combat feeling fresh from one stage to the next.
The free-to-play microtransaction model doesn’t make the game feel cheaper or less fully-featured than its predecessors. Orcs Must Die! Unchained has numerous stages for players to complete, and plenty of content that can be unlocked by playing the game naturally. Yes, it is much quicker to unlock new skins and characters by using real world cash, but like the best free-to-play games, Orcs Must Die! Unchained doesn’t make it impossible to obtain this content using in-game methods.
Grinding for in-game currency can be a bit tiresome, but it’s less so when tearing through enemies with friends. Orcs Must Die! Unchained has online co-op that functioned flawlessly during our time with the game, whether we played with friends or with strangers. Jumping into online matches was a breeze, and being able to choose specific levels to play online is a nice touch.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained has great online functionality, standing in stark contrast to many free-to-play games on the market. There’s a reason why free-to-play titles are generally considered to be lesser than paid games, as they have a reputation of having poor online connectivity, less polish, and less content than traditional game releases. Orcs Must Die! Unchained, meanwhile, has plenty of polish and feels like a paid release without players having to spend a single dime on it.
The high quality online is certainly one of the best reasons to download Orcs Must Die! Unchained, but it is somewhat disappointing that there are no local co-op options for those that prefer offline gaming. Many tower defense games support local co-op of some sort, so Orcs Must Die! Unchained‘s lack of the feature may make it a little less enticing than other games in the genre.
The lack of local co-op is disappointing, but there’s still plenty of content for players to sift through with friends online. Besides playing through campaign missions, players can challenge themselves to fight against endless waves of enemies in the Survival mode or face off against other players in the PvP Sabotage mode.
Sabotage mode pits two teams of three against one another. For the most part, it plays identically to other game modes, with players working together to set traps and fight off the enemy hoards. The difference is that players can collect powerups to make the other team’s jobs a little more difficult. Sabotage is interesting and provides a little variety, but more interaction with the enemy team would have helped it stand apart from the other game modes a bit more.
With three game modes and online co-op support, it’s clear that Orcs Must Die! Unchained is a content rich free-to-play experience on both PC and PS4, but the PC version still has the edge over its console counterpart. Orcs Must Die! Unchained‘s gameplay simply lends itself better to a mouse and keyboard setup, as it’s easier to manage the action bar and aim at enemies. On PS4, cycling through different traps and abilities can lead to easy mistakes that would have been avoided on PC, especially during more hectic battles.
Wrestling with the DualShock 4 controls is an annoyance, but it’s not the game’s only console-exclusive issue. For one reason or another, the text in Orcs Must Die! Unchained on PS4 is oddly small, and the user interface makes the screen messy. It seems like Orcs Must Die! Unchained‘s UI and text boxes were built with PC monitors in mind, as players may have to sit a lot closer to their TVs than usual if they hope to take everything in.
Even with these console-specific issues, Orcs Must Die! Unchained from Robot Entertainment is one of the better free-to-play games on the PlayStation Store. The controls may be tighter on PC and there’s clearly room for improvement in some other areas as well, but Orcs Must Die! Unchained is still worth taking the time to download on the PlayStation 4.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained is available now for PC and PS4. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.