Boy, you better wish you saw my face after I came upon the Orcs Must Die 2 booth at PAX. There's something about establishing devious, orc-murdering doom chasms that just appeals to the demon child living within me, and I'm happy to report that Robot Entertainment is handily improving on that concept.
The first thing I noticed going into my quick demo was just how pretty the game looked. Colors pop nicely, textures are sharp, and the slightly cartoonish art style of the original has seen an adequate update. Not only that, the game moves exceptionally well. Although this was the PC build, there's been a noticeable improvement in how everything flows -- particularly with the traps. The green trap outline that guides your placement now smoothly bounces from placement box to placement box, rather than quickly snapping to each grid location. The effect is actually represents many of the changes -- one of those things you never knew you wanted until you've seen it. Some examples of these additions are the inclusion of rag doll physics (SCORE!) and more dynamic environmental traps, such as constantly cycling mine carts that zip around the stage, knocking orcs around as they go.
Other changes such as the co-op, the new character, new weapons, and the disappearance of the weavers, are obviously far more fundamental. That's right, Robot went ahead and did away with weavers, those gameplay modifiers that added bonuses to magic or trap performance. I'm not sure what they've been removed in place for, maybe it's just to make room for the 250-odd traps and weapons, or maybe it has more to do with the co-op; I'm not sure, I'm not a doctor. Regardless, I'm kind of bummed to see the weavers go.
As for the co-op, I'm happy to report that it's looking good. The difficulty and enemy count thankfully scales to the presence of a partner to keep things from getting too boring. The new character, the Sorceress, is aptly more range/magic focused than the returning War Mage, who's now more like a tank. The two mirror each other's strengths and weaknesses -- the War Mage is stronger and has more health while the Sorceress has significantly more mana -- making for a potentially orc-wrecking dynamic duo.
Another notable feature were the environments. Rather than sitting in an inclosed castle, I was fighting inside mine tunnels overlooking a massive cliff. Blocky, grey castle bricks have been replaced with dirt paths and iron rails, perhaps as a reflection of the tonal shift from magic to industry as with the inclusion of the War Mage's blunderbuss gun instead of his magic crossbow.
From what I've seen and heard from the developers, this game is shaping up to be another great entry into the series. I can't wait to get my hands on a final copy this summer.