Rushed, is the operative word that I am using to describe Rock of Ages 3. The whole experience from beginning to end, feels rushed. Compared to its predecessor, in almost every way it feels like a step down; from the big picture design to small annoyances. However, the core gameplay is so good that if you are a fan of the series it still may be worth picking up despite its myriad of problems. But be prepared, because there may be a lot of disappointment incoming.
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break is loyal to the series past of rollicking rock rolling gameplay. It’s an arcade-like Monkey Ball-styled racer where you push giant rock balls through tracks filled with traps. There are four major modes included. The first is a time trial, in which you have to roll your boulder through the track as fast as possible. There are also races in which two boulders race against each other to the finish line. Similarly the skee ball mode has two balls racing towards a skee board, trying to build up multipliers and get the highest score. Finally there is the grand strategy mode called War, in which two players create traps to stop the other’s boulder from making it to their castle at the end.
These modes are endlessly fun and the moment-to-moment gameplay of rolling and controlling high speed rocks never fails to be interesting. There is an exciting blend of split-second decision and momentum control that makes rolling your stone so engaging. The humor and minor storytelling are intact as well, keeping the same goofy Python tone. However it’s this foundation that is the only thing that’s holding this title up.
The first major sign of trouble for me was found in the new track editor. This is an exciting idea, allowing players to make their own levels and share them across the world. However this system in practice works miserably. In the actual track editor itself, the camera is hard to use and wonky, the creation tools feel clunky, and there seems to be a lack of really in-depth options. It is usable, however what is not is the actual playing of the levels. At least at the time of the review, my copy has had a horrible time loading and playing community levels, often denying me the ability entirely. This is such a shame because it seems like easily the most exciting addition for Rock of Ages and what many fans were surely looking forward to.
Another worrying aspect is obvious to see – the levels themselves. Many of them seem to be made of reused assets and just lack a lot of the original creativity and flair. Many more are uncreative and feature boring track layouts filled with a lot of cookie cutter decorations and obstacles. What makes it even worse is that it uses many of the same assets from the previous title in almost every aspect; from some of the overall worlds to many of the units that you smash past. There seems to be more of a focus on quantity over quality in Rock of Ages 3 and many of the levels fast begin to feel like almost copy and paste templates.
Make & Break is also, at least for now, really buggy and does not work in many essential ways. And from where I stand, there are two separate problems: spawning into a level will often send you off a cliff or past the starting line, whilst the physics of crashing into things would send you flying into the sky, presenting awkward reactions that throw you off your game. But worst of all is the multiplayer. Online multiplayer feels incredibly slow, barely working at all. Most of the time I could not get into matches, and often when I did they were slow, laggy, or crashed out.
Rock Of Ages 3: Make & Break on Xbox One feels like a major misstep from its wonderful predecessor. There is still the magic there but it takes a lot more searching to find it. The title is plagued with bugs and a lack of the originality that made the first two great is a shame. It feels like a rushed job, and certainly not a proper sequel, instead coming across as more like a shoddily made expansion. If you love the series, there is still worth with Rock of Ages 3, offering up more levels of the same great gameplay. But in all other senses, the rock has been dropped here.