Republished on Wednesday 25th November, 2020: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of December 2020's PS Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Electronic Arts put out a new PlayStation 4 game earlier this week and there's a pretty good chance you never even knew it existed. Rocket Arena is a 3v3 online multiplayer experience seemingly designed for the younger Fortnite crowd that takes Quake’s rocket jump and designs a game around it. That may be a pretty cool concept, but a questionable pricing structure will stop this one from hitting the mainstream.
Rocket Arena borrows heavily from the likes of Overwatch with 10 different heroes to choose from, each packing their own abilities and weapon. Unlockable artefacts containing stat boosts can be used to customise a character and make them your own, and then it's time to sample the game's four modes. Team Deathmatch is a mainstay while Rocketball, Treasure Hunt, and Mega Rocket supply objectives to focus on. No matter what the main task is, however, you'll always find yourself rocket jumping about the place and lining up projectiles to ensure they collide with their designated target. The modes themselves are all completely competent in their own right, but there's not enough here to support more than a few hours of fun. Rocket jumping and blasting an opponent into the sky always comes with a quick dose of satisfaction, but the overall experience starts to wear thin much quicker than we were expecting.
The game will also struggle to maintain a significant player base at a price of £24.99/$29.99. Rocket Arena would have had a much better shot at success as a free-to-play title, especially so when it launches with a store already packing a premium currency. Skins, cosmetic patterns, and return trails — you know the drill by now. However, perhaps the most audacious aspect of it all is that players are currently being asked to pre-order a Battle Pass. That must be a first.
Despite the handful of enjoyable hours Rocket Arena has to offer, it's not an investment worth considering. With microtransactions already up and operational alongside a premium price tag, it’s likely to find itself without a player base before too long. Rocket jumping can only take it so far.