(Impressions) Arrow Heads

Has archery ever been on your to-do list, but you just can’t find the time, resources or motivation? We’ll, how about you play a game filled with archery that you can play with your friends instead? Need a bit more spice? You can get bonuses and setup bear traps or tesla coils because who doesn’t need bear trap-flinging bows am I right? Other games do the repetitive match shtick; can Arrow Heads do the same thing and pull it off? Maybe… let me break it down for you.

First up, Arrow Heads is a twin-stick shooter without as much of an emphasis on being a bullet-hell. Arrows aren’t as quick as bullets so you’ll have to learn to lead your enemies. Sometimes you’ll pull of a great shot while others will miss and some will feel like they should have landed, but didn’t. I fall heavily into the third category when playing against NPCs, but against real life people it’s generally the first two. You’ll eventually get used to holding down your trigger finger longer or shorter to get the arch or distance you desire, but as a tip: walking and flicking to get closer units doesn’t work very well. Or at least it doesn’t for me.

Man, playing with friends is fun, but when your friends die and all of the ire is focused on you, it can get rough quick. Brace yourself my friends!

In the arena mode, enemies will drop some yellow glowy orbs that fill a bar at the base of the screen. There are two main functions for this. The first is to block a decent chunk of the screen at times and get really annoying because they should have it go mildly translucent when something is behind it. It won’t always be that obvious, but on some levels it really sticks out. The other function is for bonuses. Remember the tesla coils and bear traps? This is where they come into play. You fill the bar up and you’ll get a bonus to your weapons that also include shooting multiple arrows out and (my personal favorite) rockets! Rockets are freaking awesome! I can kill some of the bigger bears with arrows more consistently, but rockets require less accuracy and that’s nice every now and then. The other buff you can get is another heart/life. This is when the bonus system basically acts like the hidden desire meter in Monster Hunter. If you need a heart, you’ll rarely get it, but if you don’t then you will. You can’t stack up extra hearts (max of three) so this is a small source of frustration, but it’s all luck. It’s kind of funky when everyone shares the same meter, but when four players are on the screen killing a higher count of baddies and grabbing all of the orbs, you’ll probably hit the max more often than you would solo or with doubles. That also means more fun!

Not only do you have to look out for other players, but the environment will also try to kill you.

I really wish I could have gone online with the beta, but no on showed up after a little waiting while on the stream so I can’t tell you how well that works (latency wise), but it should be good when it officially launches and there is an actual player-base. The PvP aspect would be the only thing that would be a bit different from what I played with my co-op bud as there would be an extra set of two people running around flinging arrows. If the pattern holds, the arena mode would be super crazy with four players. From one to two players, the number of baddies increased and it was hard enough. With four players the chaos will probably be crazy-town! This is only based on the first seven or eight levels (because we’ve already lost at that point). I’m not even sure what junk Arrow Heads will throw at me at level ten or even level 25.

The regular mode tends to play a bit differently than the arena mode. It’s the PvP arena of Arrow Heads and it gets crazy in it’s only way. Boxes fall down on you, different ammo isn’t attained via a yellow bar, but from randomly spawning items that you’ll fight over ala Hunger Games. I look forward to some of the up-coming betas to try this out!

The more you play and finish matches will gain you more bird seed. The gain, at this point did seem a little low, but that may be because of lack of progress or maybe they’ll need to ramp it up a little. Either way, when you’ve got enough, you can purchase different aesthetic looks for your bows and birds. Want to be a hawk or cardinal or how about a penguin in a mech suit (because that’s honestly the coolest one I’ve seen so far). This is a simple yet fantastic addition to the game that helps players differentiate themselves from others after you played a while and adds a little something for those that play a lot.

Fun is the word that I would associate with Arrow Heads. Solo isn’t the best way to play this, but get some friends together or going online with Arrow Heads and it’s a blast. The controls are funky and interesting, but with more time spent, they’ll feel more natural. This does come with a warning though. Arrow Heads is a lot of fun if you’ve got people in your life that you can easily get them together. If you can’t get people together regularly to play this and you think Arrow Heads does look like a lot of fun, buy it as soon as you can. Support it early on when it releases on September 21 so that there will be a larger player base and more fun to be had. A larger player base at the beginning will help the game to live a longer, more fruitful life than some other multiplayer only games do. It would be a shame if people wait for this and miss the train. I’ve seen too many games go down like that, so don’t let it!

Further Reading on Arrow Heads: Facebook / Official Page / Steam / Twitter

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