Orcs Must Die! is a favorite of mine, so when it was announced that Orcs Must Die! 2 would have co-op, you can imagine my excitement. As with most great sequels or expansions, OMD2 doesn’t change any of the things that people liked about the first game. Instead, it enhances the original experience by adding more choices, customizability, and variation. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s start off with the basics.
OMD2 takes place just a few days after the first game. It features our trusty (if a little empty between the ears) War Mage who’s joined by a new character, the Sorceress. Any combination of these characters can be played in 2-player online co-op, whether it be a war mage and a sorceress, two war mages, or two sorceresses. Creating a co-op game is a snap, just create a party from the mode/level selection screen, invite your buddy, then go about choosing your mode and level as per usual. In-game voice chat is fully supported within the game, or if you want to be old school, there’s a chat box readily at hand.
The core goal of the game still remains true to the original - it's very much a tower defense and action hybrid in which you'll be repelling waves of enemies and stopping them from reaching a certain point on the map. The beauty comes from the strategy elements, what and where you place in the levels to stop those nasty orcses. The fun comes from the quick trigger fingers of your characters blasting said orcses to pieces.
The war mage and sorceress share access to many of the same tools, but the difference is not merely cosmetic. The war mage boasts more health while the sorceress possesses a larger mana pool and they each have a unique weapon: the war mage gets a shotgun which can fire bouncing grenades while the sorceress can wield a wand with the capability to charm an enemy for a short duration. They each also have two unique traps. Only the war mage can set tar pit and arrow wall traps, but only the sorceress can employ ice vent and acid sprayer traps. These differences provide a nice sense of variation between the characters, but since they share joint access to the remaining unlockable 10 weapons, 26 traps, and 8 trinkets, I doubt players will ever feel they somehow picked the weaker character.
The spellbook in OMD2 has been greatly expanded from OMD. It features five different tabs, the first one being “My Gear,” which simply details one’s unlocked items. The other 4 tabs are the unlockable items of the game: traps, weapons, trinkets, and vanity gear. Traps and weapons are fairly straight forward, and players will recognize a return of many old favorites from the first game. Vanity items are alternative skins for your character. Trinkets are new to OMD2. and feature both passive and active (with a cooldown) effects. If the trinket active empowers a hero, such as a heal or a shield, it also bestows it on the other co-op player in a game. Traps, weapons, and trinkets can also be upgraded once unlocked, boosting potency or giving them one of two unique effects. This is a nice way play to your strengths and personal play style, and can even provide some cooperative phenomena (“you’re upgrading barricades? Okay, I’ll upgrade archers!”).