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May 2021

Rock of Ages III: Make & Break

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia, Xbox One
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Modus Games
Developer: ACE Team
Release Date: July 21, 2020


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Rock of Ages III: Make & Break'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 6, 2020 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

A blend of tower defense strategy and bursts of arcade action, Rock of Ages III: Make & Break sees opponents rolling massive boulders toward each other’s castles while building defenses to protect their own.

If you aren't familiar with the core idea behind the Rock of Ages series, it's a combination of tower defense and arcade-style action. The action comes in the form of giant boulders that you roll down a giant slope, and the goal is to accumulate as much speed and durability as possible to slam into your opponent's gate. Most of the courses have obstacles, ramps, turns and twists to assure that every attempt is challenging. More often than not, trying to be too quick launches you over the edge into oblivion, and trying to be too slow leaves you doing minimal damage to the enemy's fortifications. We had a chance to check out a preview build of Rock of Ages III: Make & Break to see what awaits us in the third entry in the series.

The Make & Break aspect of the title involves the new level design feature. You can create your own challenging levels and share them online. The creation tool seems very easy to use, and it only takes a few clicks before you're making a devilishly detailed course to torment your friends. You need to take a lot of factors into account when designing a course. Make it too difficult, and it isn't fun, but make it too easy, and it'll be boring. The level creator gives players a new appreciation for the game's levels, as it emphasizes how much thought needs to go into each one.

The tower defense aspect of the title has you adding more obstacles to the environment, such as blockades, damage-dealing towers, and other elements that can make the enemy's path more difficult. The number of obstacles is limited by your supplies on hand, such as gold. In the default War game mode, players swap between rolling the boulder and building defenses, and the winner is determined by who is the first to smash their opponent's defenses to dust.

The game isn't just competitive multiplayer, though. There's a Story mode that features wacky takes on historical characters that inevitably require rolling a boulder to escape. For example, the first story is the legend of Odysseus vs. Polyphemus the cyclops, and it involves escaping from Polyphemus's clutches via giant sheep ball and defending against his thrown boulders. The entire thing is presented in a comedic animated style that strongly resembles the old Monty Python cartoons, something that seems entirely intentional on the developer's part.

The Story mode gives you a good overview of the game's basic play style, but there are actually six different game modes. All of the game modes have potential and emphasize different skills that you'll need to succeed in War mode. The game may be designed around the basic War mode, but the other modes look quite fun. There's an Avalanche mode, which is tower defense only for those who don't want to roll the boulders around. The Avalanche and War modes are focused on tower defense, so if you love that aspect of the game, you'll want to focus on those two.

In comparison, the other modes emphasize rolling around. Obstacle mode involves navigating increasing complex dangers in your quest to smash the gate. Time Trial gives you a time limit to reach the end of the course. Humpty Dumpty has you guiding a giant, fragile egg through all kinds of dangers. Skeeball is … well, it's skeeball, so you try to get your ball through the highest scores possible.

Rock of Ages III: Make & Break looks like an incredibly charming addition to the franchise. It maintains the same "roll a really heavy stone at a gate" gameplay that has been there since the first game in the series, but it mixes things up with some new game modes. Most importantly, the addition of a create-a-stage feature potentially offers near-infinite replayability. What we've played of the game seems like a roll-icking good time (sorry), and fans of the franchise should look forward to it when it comes out on June 2 for all platforms.

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