As the first piece of DLC content for Orcs Must Die! 2, Fire and Water is a straightforward add-on. Appearing on Steam within a month of the game's release, Fire and Water doesn't fundamentally change the core game mechanics, though it does mix up things with new monsters, new traps and a handful of new levels.
The two new elemental monster types are the most noticeable element of Fire and Water, and it's not just because the DLC is named after them. Although both the fire and water elementals are similar to the earth variant that players know and love, how they behave requires decidedly different tactics when defending.
Each new elemental features the three standard modes: weak, medium and strong. The fire elementals (medium) and fire lords (strong) initially appear on the field before breaking down into the weaker firelings as you cause damage. In this way, they are similar to the earth elementals in the base game. The biggest difference is in the behavior of the firelings. When the firelings appear, they immediately rush the player with a suicide attack.
Water elementals are more or less the inverse of the earth and fire elementals when it comes to behavior. These guys prefer to show up as waterlings, the weakest form. The catch is that whenever you kill one, it leaves behind a puddle. If a waterling walks over a puddle, it becomes a water elemental. If a water elemental walks over a puddle, it becomes a water lord. Successfully fighting these guys is all about separation. Using traditional kill box tactics usually results in a handful of water lords running amok.
Helping you out in the killing quest are three new traps: the dart spitter, floor portal and web spinner. All three traps are immediately available in all game modes as soon as you purchase the Fire and Water DLC. You don't need to unlock them with skulls, though you will need skulls to upgrade them.
The dart spitter is a nifty area attack trap. It attaches to the ceiling and fires poison darts in all directions, but perhaps its biggest advantage is range. The dart spitter covers a nine-square box on the floor. Mixing this with haymakers in a low ceiling tunnel can make for a useful combo attack.
The floor portal is one of the more expensive traps in your arsenal, and it only covers a single square, but it has the potential to be incredibly useful — especially if you spend a decent amount of time in endless mode. When an enemy steps on the floor portal, it is immediately teleported back to the spawn point. This makes the floor portal a great last line of defense to use immediately before the rift entrance. It also works well to separate a group of multiple monsters since you can slap them down on the fly. The more powerful monsters are always easier to take down individually versus in a group.
Finally, there is the web spinner. A wall-mounted trap, it spits out webs that slow enemies. Effect-wise, it is similar to the War Mage's tar trap, but it covers a larger area. Since the Sorceress doesn't have access to the tar trap, the web spinner is a nice alternative. The only thing to watch here is the weakness to fire, which burns off the webbing.
Fire and Water adds three new levels to play, and it also adds three more to endless mode, though the levels in the latter are not brand new. One of the endless additions is the Library, which is an original Orcs Must Die! level from classic mode. The second endless addition is the Crossing, which is one of the standard Orcs Must Die! 2 levels. The final endless addition is the West Wing, which is one of the three new Fire and Water levels.
Traffic Jammed is the first of the new maps and is set up in a cross pattern. The lack of a teleport requires movement planning on the player's part, as rushing back and forth is not a viable option. Given the crisscrossing horde paths, creative use of barricades is a must. This is the map that introduces the fire elementals.
Double Decker is shaped somewhat like a backward letter S. There are two spawn points at either end, with the exit in the center. What makes this map intriguing is the way it uses height. The exit is on the middle level, with one spawn up high and one down low. The cliffs provide a quick way to eliminate some enemies, and a mine tunnel on the upper level affords a nice kill box. You need to babysit that one, though, as this map introduces the waterlings. If you're not careful, they will quickly turn into water elementals and water lords.
The West Wing is the last of the new maps, and it's also the easiest to master. Designed as a straightforward crossing, there are two tunnels with low ceilings that lead into a central area. There are two natural chokepoints that make for excellent kill boxes. Both spawn points are connected by a teleport, enabling quick movement back and forth. One of the two spawn points also happens to be surrounded by acid, so if you have the wind belt, you can score quick kills as soon as the hordes run out. Both fire and water elementals appear here.
The only real complaint about Fire and Water is the cost relative to the base game. Although the Fire and Water DLC only costs $5 USD, Orcs Must Die! 2 delivered 20 all-new maps and a handful of new game modes for $15 USD. The DLC costs one-third of that but only offers three new maps and traps. Given the extreme value offered by Orcs Must Die! 2, Fire and Water feels lightweight.
With that said, the content in Orcs Must Die! 2: Fire and Water meshes nicely with the base game, and the new levels are fun to play. Whether you purchase it right away or wait for the inevitable Steam sale, if you enjoyed Orcs Must Die! 2, you're going to enjoy Fire and Water.
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