8:00am PT by Patrick Shanley
Nexon to Launch Its Own 'Fortnite' Competitor With 'Rocket Arena'
A cast of colorful, cartoonish characters; fast-paced, over-the-top action; frenetic, addictive gameplay, Nexon and Final Strike Games are taking aim at popular free-to-play titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends with its own multiplayer shooter, Rocket Arena.
Final Strike was formed in 2016 by three veterans of Microsoft's 343 Industries (which currently develops the Halo series): Kevin Franklin, Brian Lemon, and Doug Barnes. In 2017, Nexon acquired the studio's publishing and marketing rights. Rocket Arena marks the first title released by Final Strike.
The game pits teams of three against each other in a range of fast-paced competitions, from knockout rounds where the team with remaining "badges" wins to a basketball, shooter hybrid called Rocketball that tasks players with delivering a ball into their opponent's area.
“We wanted to leverage everything we’d learned in the past and put a slight tweak on it,” Barnes tells The Hollywood Reporter of Rocket Arena. “It’s all about letting everyone play this game. When we first started we said, ‘What buttons can we actually get rid of?’ I don’t want you to have to be an octopus to play this game.”
The game features three competitive gameplay modes, six maps and six characters in its beta. Where it differs greatly from other free-to-play shooters such as Fortnite is that Rocket Arena allows for players to stay in the game, even when they're eliminated. Each player has a "blast meter" that fills as they collect damage until it reaches it a critical point and they are launched to the border of the arena and then respawned on the playing field after a few seconds.
"It's the shooter where no one actually dies," laughs Barnes. "We really wanted people to be engaged the whole time and never feel out of the action."
"Final Strike has come up with something unique in terms of the gameplay," says Geoff Bent, senior project manager at Nexon. "Finally doing something where death isn't the focus, you can open up the genre to a broader audience."
The game's cartoonish art style is something that Final Strike and Nexon will appeal to a wide audience.
"We were really interested in building a comedic, fun world," says Barnes. "We drew inspiration from old cartoons like Wile E. Coyote."
"It's a little bit like Pixar," says Bent. "Those characters often have an appeal that reaches younger audiences but, at the same time, those are movies that appeal to adults and a wide range of people. We expect the same thing for Rocket Arena."
Rocket Arena's closed beta will launch on May 23 and run through May 29. No official release date has been revealed yet. The game will be available for cross-platform play on PC and Xbox One at launch, with PlayStation 4 currently in development.