Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Orcs Must Die!

Go To

"I've spent 300 years fighting for The Order. I've killed thousands of orcs, and defended dozens of rifts. And THIS is how it ends. One slip on a Kobold's blood, and my skull cracks open on the gatehouse steps. So now the task of defending this fortress falls to my... ngh... Apprentice. That's it then: the world is doomed."
Cygnus, The Master

Orcs Must Die! is a Tower Defense game, developed by Robot Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released for Xbox Live Arcade on October 5, 2011, and on Steam on October 12. The sequel was released on July 30th, 2012.

In some standard fantasy world, an old War Mage of The Order has slipped on some kobold blood and cracked his head open. Now, it falls to his idiot apprentice to defend a series of fortresses from hordes of orcs and their allies. Within these forts are magic rifts that the orcs must not be allowed to reach.

The game differs greatly from other Tower Defense games, due to its third-person perspective, action-oriented combat, and alternative mechanics. You directly control the Apprentice, and must fight alongside your traps and Guardians instead of merely watching them work their magic. You are given an assortment of traps, spells, NPC "guardians", and a few weapons to help you protect the rifts.

The plot is basically an Excuse Plot to gleefully massacre orcs to your heart's content, not that there's anything wrong with that.

A sequel was released on July 30th 2012, with basically more of everything, a second character choice (The Sorceress), and a co-operative mode.

A third game was released in 2017 titled Orcs Must Die! Unchained, which along with additional characters added Competitive Multiplayer to the series before being shut down in 2019. Tropes relating to the first two games should go on this page, tropes particular to Unchained should go on that page.

Orcs Must Die! 3 came to Google Stadia as a timed exclusive, with other platforms eventually to follow, in August 2020. The game was announced as a return to form, taking after Orcs Must Die! 2's two-player co-op PvE. Taking place decades after the events of Unchained, the game follows two new apprentices, Egan and Kelsey, as they deal with the orc hordes.

    open/close all folders 

Tropes used in Orcs Must Die!:

    In General 
  • An Adventurer Is You: Weavers allow the player to choose a specific style to complement their way of playing:
    • Steel Weaver: Focuses heavily on traps and Guardian upgrades. Includes more damage for piercing traps, stronger physics traps that will affect even the heaviest enemy and faster trap recharge. Guardians can get health regeneration, Paladins can also get a stunning sword and Archers can get fire arrows.
    • Elemental Weaver: Heavy focus on player abilities. Includes lower mana cost for primary attacks that uses mana, upgrades to all elemental attacks and upgrades to the Crossbow (fire arrows) and the Bladestaff (damage boost), and also maximum health upgrade.
    • Knowledge Weaver: A mixed bag of boosts. Includes extra money making with player spell kills, mana recharge whenever trap kills enemies, raising dead orcs as minions, better accuracy for headshots with the crossbow and giving the rift a single-target lightning bolt attack.
  • Acid Pool: Scattered throughout the levels along with Lava Pits.
  • Action Bomb: Kobold Sappers. Unlike regular Kobolds, they go after guardians, you, and, worst of all, barricades.
  • Airborne Mook: Hellbats and their annoyingly hard to hit miniature versions. Protip: Ice magic kills 'em dead.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Orcs and their allies.
  • Annoying Arrows: Your arrows do not deal a lot of damage, unless you headshot the orcs that is.
  • The Apprentice: The main character.
  • Arrows on Fire: The Guardian Archer's arrows can be upgraded with burning pitch. Your crossbow can also be upgraded thusly, visibly changing glow color from blue to red.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Spring Traps sound very cool on paper: put them at the end of your Death Course and watch the occasional survivors step on the trap and being projected all the way back to the beginning. Upgrade them with the Steel Weaver, and they can even throw ogres! In practice, though, only one or two enemies will be projected at a time, and it's virtually impossible to make sure they will be the ogres you so desperately need to push back. Also, a well-built Death Course leaves no one alive, therefore making Spring Traps inconsequential.
  • Blood Knight: The Apprentice is having the time of his life slaughtering Orcs.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Apprentice, once again.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Tar trap is one of the first trap types that the player unlocks. It does no damage, it cannot throw enemies, and its only role is to slow down invaders who walk across it. However, it doesn't have a recharge time, (ergo, its effect is persistent) and it causes hordes of foes who charge-in to bunch up when they reach it, so it serves as a force-multiplier for Herd-Hitting Attack spells and traps. As a result, it will be used in almost every level thereafter. It's also an excellent counter against those annoying premature-trap-triggering-Kobolds.
    • Barricades are even duller than Tar trap doing nothing but blocking the path of the Orc mob... Which is extremely important if you don't want to go through the horrendous task of defending multiple points at once. And as long as there is at least one path to the portal, the enemy horde will follow wherever you direct them to, even if the home base portal is clearly in sight.
    • Arrow Wall trap is far from flashy, but it still does a very good job at killing the horde when set in sufficient numbers.
  • Buffy Speak:
  • Cast from Hit Points: The DLC Vampiric Gauntlets' alternate fire converts hit points to mana.

  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The enemies are only supposed to attack barricades if there is no other path to get to the rift. On occasion, the game will bug and enemies will destroy barricades despite there being a clear path for them to go around. This is likely a minor feature that triggers in the event of a pathfinding A.I. Breaker.

  • Captain Ersatz: The Apprentice heavily resembles Ash Williams in looks, attitude and style. Hell, the sequel even gives him a boomstick!
    • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Also, his facial features bear a strong similitude to those of Charlie Sheen... Which might as well explain why he uses the (in)famous "Winning!" catch-phrase for time to time!
  • Combos: Kill combos are worth extra points and certain achievements.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Lava pits are scattered throughout the levels. As long as you don't take a dip in it you're fine.
  • Cool Sword: The Bladestaff. In the first game it could be given upgrades to make it glow and a DLC skin would change it so it would contain two blades or turn it into a hammer.
  • Cute Kitten: The Apprentice seems to think so. He's nowhere near a Kindhearted Cat Lover, though.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Ogres can stun-lock you unless you jump away.
    • The player can do this to the enemies by means of physics manipulation, such as the wind belt, springboards, and push traps. The enemies make a costly charge through a Death Course, only to get knocked back to the start of it and be forced to run it again!
  • Cynical Mentor: The dead teacher will berate and belittle The Apprentice every chance he gets, despite The Apprentice being what can only be described as a walking Apocalypse.
  • Determinator: What truly makes the Apprentice a force to be reckoned with, idiot as he may be he doesn't give up. Also applies to the player as you must battle against overwhelming odds to emerge victorious.
  • Death Course: As a player, you'd better get good at making them or you won't survive long.
  • Death from Above: The Swinging Mace. Combine it with Arrow Walls, Spike Traps and Archers at the end of the Death Course to make it "Death from Above, the Sides, Beneath and the Front!"
  • Destructive Saviour: The Apprentice saves the world by destroying the rifts and ridding the world of magic. According to the Old Mage, the act DID save the world, but caused droughts which led to famine which led to misery as bad as the orcs inflicted.
  • Double Weapon: The Apprentice's melee weapon, the Bladestaff, whose upgraded version (which all players get to use) has two bladed ends, while The Master's had only one.
  • Downloadable Content: Two: "Artifacts of Power" adds a host of new weapons, traps and an alternate outfit for the Apprentice. "The Lost Adventures" adds a set of extra levels, one of which is an inverted version of "The Tower" from the main campaign.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: There is fall damage and the ragdoll physics are notably less refined compared to the sequels. The "grid" to set traps could be also very finicky making you mispace traps every now and then.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If you play on Apprentice, you can only get a maximum of two skulls instead of the five-skull potential on harder difficulties.
  • Elemental Powers
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: One of the last upgrades available from the Knowledge Weaver causes some orcs to rise up and fight for you when they die.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The characters are known primarily by nicknames and it isn't until Unchained that their names were given as Maximillian (The Apprentice), Gabriella (The Sorceress) and Cygnus (The Master), which is what they're referred to from that point on.
  • Exploding Barrels: The Bomb Barrels and Decoy Traps.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Fake Difficulty: Nightmare can be really tough as the game doesn't give you more than 3 seconds to set up even your initial traps before the first wave of enemies which would make maps with more than one lane to defend very difficult if you didn't rush to barricade them as fast as humanely possible. The sequels would at least let the player prepare themselves before unleashing the first wave.
  • Fallen Hero: The Sorceress was once a member of The Order.
  • Fearless Fool: The player character is described as being the worst kind of student - foolish. Throughout the levels, he constantly shows no fear and continues to taunt both the sorceress and her hordes, despite the fact that the world appears doomed as there are not enough War Mages left to stem the tide.
    The Master: "Now she's bound the numberless horde to her will and returns to teach the Order harsh lessons in humility and subservience. But she's in for a surprise: I'm reasonably sure my apprentice is unteachable."
    • In fact, whenever his character appears to be developing, it goes in the same direction on both accounts: his insight and budding wisdom both come with the admission that he's basically just delaying the inevitable conquest of Earth.
    • In the ending the The Master muses on the Apprentice's decision to seal the Rifts, thus sacrificing the benefits of magic to save Earth, and reasons that the Apprentice was the only member of the Order willing to make that sacrifice because he was a Fearless Fool. He's uncertain whether the "Fearless" part or the "Fool" part was more important.
  • Fragile Speedster: Kobolds. They have an annoying habit of outrunning your traps but go down from a single crossbow bolt. This can still be damned dangerous, because the traps they dodge take time to reset, letting slower enemies make it through unharmed…
  • Friendly Fireproof: You won't trigger your own traps, and aren't affected if you're caught in the area of effect of one anyway. Even certain stage hazards (like the sequel's minecarts) will clip right through you with no effect.
  • Giant Mook: The ogres.
  • Glass Cannon: The Apprentice himself is quite fast and able to dish out a lot of damage, but he can't really take it. Unless you get the "Adrenaline Rush" upgrade from the Elemental Weaver, which doubles his health and gives him a speed boost from Bladestaff kills.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the levels have multiple doors, allowing foes the come from multiple directions at once, if the player doesn't pay attention they might get a rude awakening with another door opening.
    • Averted in the sequel, where the minimap indicates which door is about to be broken through.
    • Good Luck knowing what the Elemental Weaver's "Holy Sword" upgrade does without looking it up online (for the record, it's a 25% damage boost).
  • Happy Dance: Whenever you win your character does a victory breakdance. Getting a perfect rank has them do a far more elaborate dance.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • Closing the portals at the end of the first game had some unseen consequences. Without magic from the other world to ensure good crops or cure plagues and disease, famine and death are rampant. The War Mage and Sorceress's old master reopens them because the world is screwed either way, and with his ex-students, they can at least keep the orcs at bay.
    • Between the order and Orcs being gone, the War Mage is out of a job and reduced to working as a miner. A lot of people also blame him for the loss of magic and the current state of affairs.
  • Harder Than Hard: Nightmare. You don't even get the mercy of having time to prepare for the first wave, as soon as you close the spellbook a three second timer starts ticking before the horde attacks. Enemies are also more numerous and you also only get three seconds between each wave to sell traps (which you cannot do during combat phases) and no breaks until the map ends.
  • Heal Thyself: Enemies occasionally drop health potions.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Armored ogres. They can take a fair bit of punishment, and will tick a whopping ten rift points, versus only five from regular ogres.
  • Hero Killer: It must be in the Gnoll Hunters' curriculum. They don't care about raiding the rift, they just want to kill you and your guardians!
  • The Horde: The orcs and their allies.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Apprentice (Easy), War Mage (Normal), Nightmare (Hard, unlockable)
  • Idiot Hero: The Apprentice is dumb as a post, relentlessly enthusiastic, and very, very good at his job. He'd be (more) insufferable if he didn't show the capacity to get worried every now and then. And, of course, it's heavily implied that his survival where seemingly all other War Mages have failed is because he is just so stupidly persistent in the face of all odds.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: The steel weaver.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: You build them and can jump over them. The orcs have not mastered jumping.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Knowledge Weaver essentially makes you this, offering general-use upgrades for you, guardians and traps, as opposed to the trap focus of the Steel Weaver and the weapon/spell focus of the Elemental Weaver.
  • Last of His Kind: As you progress through the campaign, the Apprentice starts to suspect that he may be the only War Mage left. The Sorceress confirms this, in an attempt to demoralize him. It doesn't work.
  • Last Stand: The game encourages this by giving the Apprentice a sharp regeneration boost when he is near the Rift. You will live longer, but die fighting the horde there and it's all over.
  • Laughably Evil: The orcs, obviously. More than occasionally, they come with comments that will draw a smile on the player's face. Sometimes they even scream out "MOMMY!"
  • Life Drain: The DLC Vampiric Gauntlets have this as their primary attack.
    • When you run out of mana, you can then use the Gauntlets' secondary function to drain your own life to refill your mana, and then continue draining the orcs' lives.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Gnoll Hunters, which specifically hunt you instead of going for the rift.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The result of the War Mage closing the rifts at the end of the first game, since magic flows from the other side. This causes catastrophic damage as the world relies heavily upon magic, leading the War Mage's teacher to reopen them.
  • Magic Knight: The Apprentice and War Mages in general.
  • Magic Mushroom: Traps consisting of these inflict a Mushroom Samba on enemies, converting them to your side.
  • Mana Meter: Used to fuel your spells and some weapon attacks. Recharges by itself slowly, but can be sped up by standing near the Rift or refilled instantly from a Mana Well. The last upgrade from the "elemental" weaver allows you to regain a portion of mana from crossbow and bladestaff attacks.
  • Mercy Mode: Fail a normal (War Mage) difficulty stage twice in a row and it will ask if you want to play it on easy (Apprentice) mode.
  • Mind Control: How the Sorceress is uniting and controlling the races of the orcs' world. The orcs have dialogue that indicates it, as well. As you might imagine, this doesn't bode well for her when the Apprentice shuts down all magic by closing the Rifts.
  • Mighty Glacier: The armored ogres are fairly slow and take a ton of punishment. However, upon setting sights on a player, they becomes enraged and scarily fast for something of their size.
  • Minion with an F in Evil:
    Orc: "Can I be the good guy?"
  • Mood Whiplash: Contrasting the cartoony graphical style and amusing one-liners is a rather grim plot where the heroic faction is slowly getting picked off and pushed back, and is on the brink of invasion by foes whose own world has gone to crap.
  • Mooks: The titular orcs.
  • Morton's Fork: Instead of facing a Bolivian Army Ending, the Apprentice decides to close the rift, foiling the Sorceress's plan but also robbing his world of magic. But just as the Sorceress had predicted, the world suffers greatly from the lack of magic.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Apprentice realizes he can win by closing all rifts permanently when he notices the Sorceress really panicking.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: But about 9,365,148 orcs were. Er, better make that 9,367,216.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Justified for the Apprentice, as his is a magic crossbow. Not so justified for the elves and crossbow orcs, though.
  • No Name Given: None of the characters are named.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They lean heavily into the "Tolkienian" style, being individually weaker than humanoids allied with the Player Character, come in massed hordes, possess little to no on-screen culture or particular intelligence, and directed primarily by the will of a powerful Evil Overlord.
  • One-Liner: The Apprentice is a fountain of 'em.
  • The Order: The Apprentice, his master, the archers, and the paladins all belong to one.
  • Paladin: The Apprentice can summon them as guardians.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Gnoll Hunters have poisoned swords which slow their target when hit.
    • The player can employ similar poison in their spike traps by upgrading them, slowing down any unit hit by the spikes.
  • Posthumous Narration: The "old man" narrates the cutscenes.
  • Pretty in Mink: The elemental weaver wears a thick, brown fur collar.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    The Apprentice: "Best. Job. Ever!"
  • Pyrrhic Victory: What happens after The Apprentice defeats The Sorceress. By sealing the rifts, he also permanently seals off all the magic, breaking the mind control spells The Sorceress was using to dominate the horde. However, his world also loses all the magic, resulting in famine and disease
  • Rain of Arrows: Arrow traps, or a sufficient number of elf guardians, can invoke this.
  • Reassignment Backfire: A long term one in the case of the Master and his Apprentice. The Master notes that he himself is a terrible teacher, but the Apprentice was the worst type of student. All the other best and brightest War Mages and Apprentices were assigned to each other and then put on the frontlines against the Orcs. Yet when the Apprentice is the last one standing (and the last best hope of the world), the Master gets the last laugh on all his colleagues.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Weaver upgrades only last for the level in which they are purchased.
  • Retirony: Apparently, Orcs retire. Well, were going to the day after they met the Apprentice.
  • Reward from Nowhere: The exact purpose of the Coin Forge.
  • Scarf Of Ass Kicking: The Apprentice wears one along his default outfit.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Later levels give some of the basic orcs shields. They generally only take one hit to destroy, but prevent that first hit from being a headshot.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Hobgoblin shamen are rare mobs who have the ability to raise other mobs from the dead. They become especially dangerous when they raise tough mobs that were hard to take down in the first place. Killing mobs in such a way that No Body Is Left Behind prevents them from doing so.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: The Pounder trap as well as possibly the Pusher.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: The player can use them in the swinging mace trap, where they are positioned as a weighted pendulum swinging from a ceiling mount. The sequel adds a physics effect to the swinging mace trap. Any non-large creature not killed outright by the swinging mace will be sent flinging in the direction of the mace's swing. This can be both good (throwing enemies off cliffs or into other traps) and bad (throwing them outside of carefully prepared trap gauntlets), so they cannot be counted on as being quite as foolproof as in the first game.
  • Status Effects: Enemies can be lit on fire, frozen, stunned, poisoned, bled, charmed...
  • Stone Wall: The Paladins the player can summon. They do pretty modest damage, but they are very tough and attract any nearby enemies that attack players and guardians. They can be overwhelmed on the front line but serve admirably as a rear-guard in a tightly packed space. The Steel Weaver can upgrade them to regenerate health and stun enemies with their sword, turning them from rear-guards to frontline shock-troops.
  • Stuck Items: In the first game, the crossbow is always in the first spell slot. Averted in the sequel, where you can go without your default weapon if you want.
  • Self-Destructive Charge: The orcs are part of one long one.
  • Shout-Out: As stated above, at the end of a wave, the Apprentice may invoke Charlie Sheen's "Winning!" line.
  • Smash Mook: The Ogres can take a lot of punishment, and also cause much more damage if they should reach your rift. They aren't affected by physics-based traps unless you upgrade them specifically to do so.
  • Spikes of Doom: One of your first traps.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Spring Traps. Though, these affect the enemies rather than you and always launch them in a specific direction, which you set when first placing them.
  • Stripped to the Bone: The acid bombs from the DLC Alchemist's Satchel inflict this on enemies, as do the automatically-refilling vats of acid in the Lost Adventures DLC.
  • Take a Third Option: Eventually, the Apprentice realizes he has a Sadistic Choice on his hands: he can fight the Orcs until he dies or let them through the rift... Nah. He chooses to permanently close the rifts at cost of also permanently sealing all the magic in his world.
  • Tech Tree: The weavers act as version of this.
  • This Loser Is You: The game starts with The Apprentice's master dying by cracking his head open on a rift staircase. As he's dying, he reflects on his awesome Orc slaughtering accomplishments and goes on to say hope is lost now that it's up to The Apprentice, given his rather low opinion of him.
  • The Usual Adversaries
  • Threat Backfire: The Sorceress to the Apprentice. Often.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Other members of The Order might have fallen for the Sorceress's offers of power and companionship. Not the Apprentice.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The traps aren't exactly hidden or anything. The orcs will blindly run into them anyway. Good for you.
    • Some of the comments the orcs make about the sorceress in their head suggests at least part of this is her forcing them onward.
    • Hilariously, the orcs often remind each other to watch out for traps, and then proceed walking onto said traps themselves, along with the ones who were warned.
  • Vent Physics: Vent Traps launch enemies up in the air, opening them up to further attacks.
  • The Unfought: You never actually fight the sorceress; it is heavily implied in the ending she dies at the hands of the orcs after losing her magical control over them. In the opening of the sequel, she runs through a reopened rift, right into the Apprentice, and teams up with him to fight the orcs.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Through most of the campaign, the most enemy-access doors any fortress has is maybe three. The final fortress has eight. And a rolling log of doom for every single one.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Hoooo boy...
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the beginning, the Sorceress is cold, condescending, and doesn't take the Apprentice seriously. However, when the Sorceress realizes that the Apprentice means to seal the rifts, she starts to really lose it. By the end of the last level, she's almost mindlessly screaming at the Apprentice (with frustrated Why Won't You Die? included) in vain hopes that he doesn't go through with it.
  • War Has Never Been So Much Fun: The Apprentice has the time of his life fighting Orcs.
  • We Need a Distraction: Orcs will stop to attack bomb barrels, Decoy traps, and guardians. Paladins are especially good at this, tanking groups of Orcs while you hit them with an Area of Effect attack. Kobolds will run right past them.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Pretty much the job of a War Mage. The Apprentice enjoys it more than most.

Tropes exclusive to the second game (Beware of Late Arrival Spoilers)!:

    Second Game 
  • Action Bomb: In addition to the Kobold Sappers making a return from the first game, the Fire Elementals in the Fire and Water Booster Pack split into a bunch of little flamelings when killed. These flamelings will home in on the Player Character and pause to swell up and detonate a second later. They are slower and less damaging than the Sappers, but more likely to appear at unpredictable junctures.
    • Goblin Sappers are a new enemy type who carry a Big, Bulky Bomb made of metal with various contraptions. This acts as a kind of EMP bomb, doing little direct damage, but temporarily disabling most kinds of traps in a radius around the Sapper when it detonates. While the Kobold Sapper makes breaches in barricades and guardians, the Goblin Sapper makes breaches in dense trap clusters.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing the game on various difficulty settings unlocks additional outfits for the Player Characters. There are also a couple of additional outfits which can be bought with a huge amount of skulls.
  • Asteroids Monster: The elementals split when they die. To get around this, try launching them off the map or polymorphing them first!
  • Babies Ever After: The Apprentice wonders if that's what he and The Sorceress are destined for if they defeat the orcs. She is not amused.
  • Bag of Spilling: The Apprentice will need to buy back his staff, crossbow, some of the traps, and all of his spells. Justified as most of his equipment was magical and therefore useless in a post-magical world.
  • Batman Gambit: The Old Mage was Not Quite Dead yet, and with the magic almost gone, he used his power to bring The Sorceress and The Apprentice together knowing that it would lead to them working together. The plan was that both would work better together than they would as individuals. At that point, they could stop the orcs and stop the famine that The Apprentice inadvertently caused by sealing the rifts to save the world.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Sorceress lacks the Apprentice's tar traps, but she has exclusive control over the Acid Sprayer trap. It is unlocked for her by default, costs little, and only does modest damage. However, it can be upgraded to slow down enemies, and the long area of effect in front of it both makes it excellent for Hitting A Herd and its range and low cost allows it to supplement a wide variety of other trap designs.
  • Braid Of Action: The Sorceress sports one of these, revealed after casting aside her crown from the first game.
  • Brawn Hilda: The orcs apparently have Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism if the female "Ball and Chain" added in the Family Ties Booster Pack is anything to go by. She is several times the size of the more common male orcs, is as tough as an ogre, buffs other nearby orcs, is immune to mental domination, and wields an Epic Flail.
  • Charged Attack: The primary fire of the Sorceress's Scepter of Dominion can be charged up to release a single, stronger bolt, or even more so to release an explosive one. One of the possible upgrades increases the affected area.
  • Charm Person: The secondary fire of the above does this, fitting with the Sorceress's abilities in the last game. It's a borderline Game-Breaker, as it affects all enemy types, stopping the affected enemy in their tracks, making them attack their allies, making all their allies attack them, and to add insult to injury, making the affected enemy explode on death, stunning all nearby enemies. And to go even further, the stunned enemies are generally all grouped together which sets them up for another charge attack. And the other upgrade to the Scepter increases its damage versus charmed targets.
    • There is one weakness to this: charmed enemies share your trap immunity, and a few of them (such as mountain trolls) are nearly unkillable by your Sceptre, upgraded or not. The real early-campaign value of this, combined with the Sceptre's perfect accuracy at range, is the ability to stop cold (while they're infighting) any small group of monsters you can see.
  • Collapsing Ceiling Boss: The players can become this with the Boulder Chute trap. A big net placed on the ceiling that drops a load of boulders on enemies below when the player shoots it.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: In addition to practicing Orgasmic Combat, the Sorceress seems like she enjoys the traps a little more than any sane person should...
    Sorceress: The sweet burn of acid, how I love it!
    Sorceress: This will be painful - I tried it on myself!
  • Combat Stilettos: The Sorceress sports a pair of these, as part of her heeled metal greaves.
  • De-power: When the rifts closed, The Sorceress, The Apprentice, and The Old Mage were severely weakened.
  • Discard and Draw: The Order's Weavers are no longer operating, so the player cannot benefit from them. However, many of the benefits that they offered can still be accessed, either through equipping particular trinkets or choosing certain upgrades. Mechanically, this trades off spending in-level currency for spending extra skulls and filling active slots.
  • Elemental Powers: The elemental powers from the first game (see above) are back, with some additions:
  • Emergency Weapon: Though the Dwarf Guardians primarily attack by throwing grenades at medium range, they have a hammer that they can use to defend themselves in melee combat. However, lacking the paladins' damage mitigation and the elves' long range means that they are particularly vulnerable to ranged threats, such as crossbow orcs.
  • Endless Game: Several story mode levels, once beaten, unlock themselves in endless mode, a game type where the hordes only continue to gather in strength and are never exhausted. The goal is to survive as many waves as possible. As Loading Screen tips suggest, it is one of the most efficient ways of grinding out skulls for upgrades.
  • Forced Transformation: The Ring of Polymorph can turn any monster into any other, or even a chicken.
  • Fusion Dance: The Water Elementals from the Fire and Water Booster Pack invert the game's usual treatment of elementals as Asteroids Monsters by having them enter the level as small Waterlings. However, a killed Waterling will leave behind a puddle of bubbling magical water, which will be absorbed by other nearby Water Elementals. This in turn causes them to grow to a larger and more powerful form which is much harder to defeat.
  • Grenade Spam: The alternate fire for the Apprentice's new blunderbuss fires grenades, as fast as you click, as long as you have mana.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Why the Apprentice is stuck working as a miner in the sequel. He doesn't have any in-demand job skills beyond "killing Orcs with magic" and people weren't exactly happy about his decision to shut off magic in the previous game.
    • Emphasis on his lack of skill at anything-but-orc-killing. A Loading Screen tip even says "War Mage was not a good miner."
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: The Sorceress isn't really left with much choice in the matter.
  • Metal Slime: Mr. Moneybags is an armored ogre who appears in Endless mode. He doesn't attack or decrease your score if he escapes, but he drops cash with every hit.
  • Money Grinding: You can get unlimited amounts of skulls from each level, but there are so many more upgrades to buy!
  • Money Sink: As the number of skulls you can get is now unlimited, many items cost many more skulls to unlock and fully upgrade. Unlike the first game, these upgrades cover different areas and some can be bought multiple times, in comparison to the older system of a single fixed upgrade for each item. The additional outfits are particularly big Skull Sinks.
  • Money Spider: The Coin Trinket gives every enemy a chance to drop a coin when they die, not just ogres, albeit smaller value coins than the one dropped by larger foes. Upgrading the trinket cause these to drop more often.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Sorceress. Both in outfits and attitude. Not even the War Mage can remain oblivious.
  • Nerf: The Swinging Mace trap from the first game has been revamped a bit. Its damage appears to be lessened slightly, and is now subject to physics, knocking the enemies it does not kill outright in the direction of its swing (and often outside its own area of effect).
    • The rift healing was considerably toned down to a much slower health regeneration and it no longer boosts mana regeneration either. Levels from Act 1 doesn't even feature any rifts to protect as you play from the War Mage's home world.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Apprentice was forced to seal the rifts which wreaked havoc on the environment. This game is all about him fixing the problem, again, in mostly ignorance. By the time of the events of Unchained, things have gone in the opposite direction, as now there's multiple large rifts being opened to many worlds.
  • No Name Given: None of the main characters receive any names yet. You have the War Mage, The Sorceress, and The Master.
  • Not Quite Dead: The old War Mage was just knocked out in the first game and not actually dead.
  • Old Save Bonus: On Steam, if you own the original Orcs Must Die!, you gain access to ten levels from the original game.
  • Only Sane Man: The Sorceress considers herself this, but it's subverted due to the fact that she's more than a little nuts herself, what with her previous villainous attempts and her current Blood Knight demeanor.
    • The Master is the sanest of the lot and even manages to set things right despite the quirks of his ex-apprentices.
  • Order Reborn: The game concludes with the Sorceress and Apprentice working together to rebuild the Order. Ironic, since the Sorceress is the main reason the Order was reduced to one member in the first place. Justified as her goal was to end corruption and, for all his faults, The Apprentice is anything but corrupt.
  • Orgasmic Combat: The Sorceress really seems to be enjoying herself:
    Sorceress: Yes, yes! Give me more, more death!
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Well, they're a bit red. Otherwise, they're perfectly generic.
  • Promoted to Playable: The Sorceress.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Averted, as now all upgrades carry over between levels.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Not exactly Minecart Madness (which involves riding carts) but present as dynamic elements in many maps are minecarts which travel at constant speed across frictionless rails. Sometimes, they run across the floor and will bowl over orcs, and sometimes the player can hit switches to redirect them. Other times they run across suspended tracks with caustic cargo, which can be spilled onto orcs below. Notably, the tracks on the ground prevent floor traps from being placed over them, forcing players to mix up their strategy a bit to accommodate the new element.
  • Shoot the Medic First: In addition to the first game's hobgoblin shamen, the Family Ties Booster Pack introduces the hobgoblin healer, who heals mobs while they are still alive. They are not a big issue with lesser enemies like orcs, who can generally be damaged down to death faster than the hobgoblins can heal them, but are very dangerous when paired with stronger enemies like ogres, who's ability to take excessive punishment allows them to charge through a gauntlet of traps and come out the other side freshly healed.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Apprentice's new blunderbuss.
  • Shout-Out: Several:
  • Single-Use Shield: The Shield orcs have a shield which they drop after a single hit.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Sorceress has more mana than the Apprentice, but less health.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: Void Walls are these contained in a magical portal. Anything knocked into one is instantly destroyed (though occasionally a useful item will be spit back out.)
  • The Magic Comes Back: More rifts are opening up, allowing some magic to be used. However, Orcs can now get into the Apprentice's world unhindered.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Used by both allies and enemies:
  • Turns Red: The Yetis from the Are We There Yeti?! Booster Pack. Once you bring them down to half their HP, they go berserk and start acting like gnoll hunters: running faster, leaping over barricades and trying to wreck your shit.
  • You Have to Burn the Web: One of the Booster Packs adds the Web Sprayer trap, which sprays sticky webs over enemies, immobilizing them. Fire will remove the restraining webs, but the Web Sprayer can be upgraded to allow the burned webs to do extra damage when that happens, turning it into an effective combo maker.

Tropes exclusive to the Third Game

    Third Game
  • Actionized Sequel: 3 manages to be even more focused on action than its predecessors, which is saying something. The game no longer penalizes the player for dying during combat, which encourages them to jump into action even more than before without risking their precious Perfect Victory. On the other hand, traps tend to be more expensive, limiting how many of them you can put down at a time, requiring you to be a more active killing machine rather than sitting back and watching your traps do most the work.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Gabriella calls Maximillian "Max" while Max calls Gabriella "Gabs" probably because she talks a lot. Maximillian has no problems with it, but Gabriella hates being called Gabs.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: For the first two War Campaign maps, you control a younger Master Cygnus or his forgotten friend-turned-evil Vorwick in a flashback. And for the Desperate Measures campaign, you play as Maximillian (aka the War Mage) and Gabriella (aka the Sorceress).
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Gnolls of any kind will not take Rift Points from you if they escape. Since you might rush back to your rift in a panic to heal up if one is harassing you, you might inadvertently make one go through it.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight with Vorwick, who, even though he is wearing full plate armor, dies as easily as any playable character. But averted hard with Armored Ogres that can take tons of punishment (though said armor also makes them weak to lightning damage).
  • Boom, Headshot!: The best way to deal with bigger foes is aiming at their big, meaty heads and firing away. Since every ranged weapon can score headshots this is a very good thing.
  • The Bus Came Back: Maximillian and Gabriella serve as the protagonists of the "Drastic Steps" DLC, which serves as a prequel to the events of the main game.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Invoked and lampshaded. For most of the main campaign's story, the Sorceress is away researching where the new invasion of orcs is coming from, while revealing tidbits about Cygnus and Vorwick's history in which Vorwick is Obviously Evil. When the Sorceress is about to reveal the conclusion of her extensive, arduous research, Kelsey cuts in and summarizes what happened, noting that it was obvious because she reads so many stories, while Egan response with an in-universe I Knew It!
  • Demonic Spiders: Sapper type of enemies (Kobolds and Firelings). You will learn to be wary of these things as not only they aim specifically for your precious Barricades, but they also deal massive damage if they explode anywhere close to you.
  • Hold the Line: As per usual you always fight an overwhelming number of enemies with the aid of your traps, sometimes Guardians and maybe a co-op partner. Up to eleven in War Scenarios where you fight something akin to an army of orcs.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Apprentice (Easy), War Mage (Normal), and Rift Lord (Hard, previously known as Nightmare).
  • Like an Old Married Couple: In the ending, this how Maximillian and Gabriella act with each. With Max refusing to admit he had been captured by Vorwick and "Gabs" trying to get him to thank the apprentices.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Vorwick who's been Cygnus' partner in dealing with the Orc horde for ages. Justified in that most of records of him was scrubbed by The Order due to Vorwick's descent into madness and Cygnus being forced to banish him.
  • Marathon Level: The War Scenarios are all considerably longer than any other regular level. Most of them have generous Par Times to indicate what you're in for when dealing with them.
  • Missing Main Character: The opening intro has Gabriella, the Sorceress, informing the new Apprentices, Egan and Kelsey, that "Maximillian (the War Mage) is gone". He shows up at the very end of the game.
  • No Name Given: Averted this time around. Since this game came after Unchained, which already named several characters previously known only by their professions, the new characters are also named by default, though the Sorceress is still generally referred to by her title.
  • Obviously Evil: The game makes no attempt to hide how evil Vorwick is, which is often lampshaded by Egan and Kelsey; in his very first appearance, he is already talking with an ominously evil voice while going on endlessly about how the order should Just Think of the Potential! of the orcs instead of fighting them.
  • Older and Wiser: Gabriella plays this straight after twenty years. Max... is just older.
  • Playing Possum: During the flashback sequences that has you play as a younger Cygnus, his special ability allows him to play dead to regenerate health and mana, a reference to his abilities in Unchained.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Zigzagged. Unlike Maximillian and Gabriella in 2 (who had higher health and mana respectively), Egan and Kelsey have identical health and mana pools. That said, they do have different moves upon pressing the jump button while in the air. Kelsey with glide while Egan will do a ground pound that stuns all enemies in his vicinity.
  • Recycled Script: The Order must fight once again a notable former member who has fallen to the temptation of controlling the Orc armies.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Kelsey's primary weapon is a blunderbuss that can also launch a grenade. The grenade can be upgraded to deal bigger and deadlier explosions or turn it into an ice grenade that freezes enemies.
  • Time Skip: The game takes place roughly two decades after the previous games. As such, Master Cygnus is (presumed) dead, and given that only the oldest living warmage can conjure up rifts, yet Vorwick is able to, this either confirms he has died or Vorvick has found a hitherto unknown way around that requirement. Gabriella the Sorceress has succeeded him and Maximillian (who now has a full head of white hair) is missing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several weapons have been reworked or given different unique abilities to make them much more viable in higher difficulties; for instance the Blunderbuss now can fire 4 shots before reloading and the Bladestaff can now leech life from enemies as well. But more importantly, almost every ranged weapon now has the ability of getting headshots.
    • Crossbow Orcs (now called Orc Archers) deal considerably more damage and are far more persistent when attempting to take potshots at the players.
  • The War Sequence: War Scenarios are stages that deal with an even greater horde of orcs besieging the gates of a fortress. During said stages you gain access to unique traps, which include larger variations of normal traps, large groups of archers and even usable siege weapons like catapults.
  • Weapon Specialization: Initially, each character has a primary of theirs that must be equipped at all times (the bow for Egan, Maximillian's blunderbuss from 2 for Kelsey, the lightning staff for Cygnus, and the elven blades for Vorwick.) Upon completing the initial campaign, you gain the ability to swap their weapons out for something else.

Alternative Title(s): Orcs Must Die 2