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ORCS MUST DIE 3 – PC Review

Orcs Must Die finally returns to PC after 8 years of absence and one year of Stadia exclusivity. I am happy to report that the wait was indeed worth it.  My memory of the old game may be hazy, but it feels just as good as I remember and, in fact, it may even be better.

Story

Our hero, Maximillian, has gone missing after the events of the first game, and as the second showed, the fight with the orcs is far from over. There is surprisingly a lot of world-building in the game that consists of two campaigns; I will not say much more about the story aside from it being nothing special but definitely a solid and surprising addition. My only disappointment is that there are two characters in the new full-length campaign. The problem with that is that you only have two options: a black male with a bow and a cruddy character, or a white chick with a blunderbuss whose character isn’t much better; it reeks of pandering.

The white male protag is gone and now you are forced to choose between a white woman and a black male and could not be more pandering. Quite frankly, I would have liked to see a custom character maker instead. There’s nothing wrong with being a black male or a white female, but there’s nothing deep about their characters and could have easily been replaced by a custom avatar so that the player is free to play who they want rather than having an agenda forced onto them with generic, replaceable characters.

Visuals

ORCS MUST DIE 3 is surprisingly decent visually. It is by no means anything special, but the textures look great and that unique goofy art style is still there. Effects look very decent and the package overall is very solid. It is by far the best-looking OMD and clearly had a higher budget than the other installments. I have absolutely zero complaints about the visual package.

The one thing I would say, however, is that the antialiasing solution adds a lot of blur, so I would strongly advise downloading reshade and installing it into OMD3 with the standard config and enable AMD CAS sharpening. Do not change any values, the default setting clears up the image nicely, eliminating the blur.

Gameplay

If you were hoping for traditional OMD gameplay, you got it. This is the OMD we all know and love with two new characters with decent unique abilities, such as gliding at the cost of mana. The usual mechanics are here, co-op up to two players, three difficulty levels, and the usual strategy tower defense gameplay.

There are a lot of new additions to the game such as new traps, weapons, trinkets, and so on. There is more variety than ever before, each item, regardless of trap, trinket, weapon, and so on, has multiple upgrade paths, two traits (where only one can be active at any given time), and a special trait once fully upgraded.

The level design is top-quality OMD, and there is a lot of enemy variety from the get-go. In fact, it has been quite impressive how quickly new enemies were introduced. The game is not shy of throwing new things at you constantly rather than maintaining a status quo for multiple missions before giving you a new challenge. This is one of the game’s many strong points.

There’s a lot of replay value in here due to the upgrades and difficulties and the wealth of modes. The main campaign consists of 18 missions, the majority of which utilize our new heroes, but some are war scenarios that show the great mage and his past battles. There is also a 2nd campaign where you get to play as Maximillian; there are 5 missions and this was previously a DLC for the Stadia release.

There’s also an endless mode, weekly challenges, and it has launched with a new mode, Scramble. In Scramble, you battle orcs across five random levels as both sides escalate in power. In Scramble Mode, you have just one enhanced pool of rift points across all five levels, so you’ll need to carefully choose your buffs, debuffs, and loadouts to survive. A wealth of content and ways to keep the formula interesting have clearly been a key objective for Robot Entertainment and it has paid off in spades, making this the strongest entry in the OMD franchise. The only weak point is the weapons’ lack of visual feedback.

Sound

OMD 3’s sound package is a mixed bag. The sound effects are average and just about serviceable, and I would like to see more audio feedback on weapons. However, the soundtrack, while nothing special, is great to listen to and has a lot of energy and brilliant riffs. It absolutely fits the game and elevates the mood; in fact, I am quite tempted to buy the soundtrack as it’s that fun rock and metal vibe that’s great to have in the background when studying or doing other things. The game overall delivers on this front too.

Performance

Tested specs.

I7 8700K @4.7GHz on all cores
ASUS TUF Z370 Z370-PRO GAMING MOBO
ASUS RTX 3080 TUF OC
16GB LL DDR4 @3600MHz

Now performance from a layman’s perspective is fine. I do, however, have some issues even though frame times have been locked with RTSS to 140 and I never dip below it, there is a 0.2ms frame time fluctuation when there should be none; although it’s tiny and barely noticeable. In addition to that, on the GPU side, the usage seems quite high at 1440p, maxed out. The game does run at a locked 140 on a lot of levels, however, it does dip below on later levels to the 120 range. GPU usage can go as high as 95% and the load is almost always above 60. For what the game is doing visually, such as the basic geometry and effects and the tiny areas mission take place, using this much of a 3080 is absurd. The game will run well on many rigs depending on the frame rate you’re targeting, but the usage could be much lower.

Conclusion

At 30 USD, OMD3 is a no-brainer purchase for me. If you like tower defense games where you have a playable character on the field, you can do no better from my experience. If you enjoyed the old games, you will absolutely love this entry as it is genuinely the best in the franchise. It’s brimming with content, has a lot of replayability with a lot of thought put into the player experience. I could not be happier to see this franchise return, especially when it’s better than ever.

9/10


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