I was pleasantly surprised last night to realize that Orcs Must Die! 2 (OMD2) had been released. I had not realized it was being made until there was a pre-order sale, and that seems to have been on the cusp of release. I enjoyed the first one and found it contrasted with the competition by having higher quality content but fewer hours of it: better gameplay, no grind. I stayed up too late sampling OMD2.
OMD2 is a much broader experience. It has three modes (story, classic, endless), three difficulty levels, cooperative play, and a chance to play as the villain of the first game. Levels are recycled within those options.
Character progression has been added. In the first game, you could upgrade a trap once, ever, done. There was also a within-map tech tree for enhancing traps and abilities. In the sequel, you earn skulls and spend them to unlock and upgrade things, in addition to what you unlock for completing levels. A trap might have five possible upgrades, and the total cost to cap everything must be in the thousands of skulls. I do not know how grindy this will feel in the long run; I did not use all the traps in the first game, so I don’t feel a need to unlock and upgrade everything. There will be the question of how many upgrades the game is balanced around.
I remain a fan of scaling difficulty by number and type of monster, not having monsters scale. Don’t give me a 80,000hp orc. Give me some ogres or 80,000hp worth of orcs. OMD2 continues saying that an orc you can one-shot on the first map is an orc you can one-shot on the last map. To give some options between orcs and ogres, orcs come in light, medium, and heavy, and they can again have shields or crossbows.
OMD2 starts faster than OMD1, presumably assuming you played the first one. The backstory is only briefly explained, and our Bruce Campbell protagonist continues his impudent dialogue. The first level of OMD2 is much more complex than the first of 1, and it ramps up more quickly. So far, the maps have been fair challenges: you can beat them on the first try, but getting a five-skull score will probably require a replay. I had a blast spending an evening mostly in story mode, and I will be back after having played more.