Twitchy, top-down laser sport beaming its way to console
When a new sports game appears on the scene, bringing with it a whole set of unheard-of rules to learn, it’s good to kick things off with a comparison that’ll paint an immediate neontinged picture in your mind. Laser League is like RocketLeague (without a ball) meets Tron; a fast-paced multiplayer arena showdown that has an easy point of entry, but a skill and strategy ceiling whose height will only become apparent when players really begin mastering it.
Two teams of two, three, or four players battle it out from a topdown perspective to wipe out their opponents. Victory can be achieved in several ways. First, there are the special abilities of the six player classes, such as the Sniper’s longrange potshots or the dashing slash of the Blade class. It’s all one-shot kills, making each match a brisk battle of reflexes rather than attrition.
But the real strategy comes into play by capturing nodes, which activate moving walls of light corresponding to your team’s color, and eviscerate your opponents on
“The game can quickly be turned on its head with a power-up”
contact. These walls move around the screen in patterns, forcing you to learn their movements while evading the attacks of enemy players.
Everything about the game, from the fluorescent visual language to the minimal control scheme, is instantly scrutable. In contrast to Roll7’s deceptively complex 2D skater
OlliOlli, LaserLeague is designed for one-off sessions by novices as well as masters. “Whether you like it or not, you definitely can’t ever be like, ‘I just didn’t get it’”, is how Simon Bennett, founding director of Roll7, puts it.
Roll7 wants to create a game of high skill. You can co-ordinate with your teammates to set up laser-wall traps, or grab power-ups to swap your laser-walls around with the other team’s. Having more nodes/lasers in your color onscreen increases your chances of victory, but the game can be turned on its head with a powerup or a plucky player who revives his teammates against the odds. Like all great sports, it creates conditions for dramatic turnarounds.
With the refinement in rules and mechanics a game like this requires, there’s a way to go until we find out whether its potential gets realized. Bennett compares the process to basketball: “It took them 88 years to invent the three-point rule, which is now crucial within the game”. At least we know that Roll7 are in it for the long haul (although they confessed to us that post-launch support for 88 years may be a bit ambitious…).
Above Yellow walls kill blues, blue walls kill yellows. See? You get it already.
below Roll7 are still working on the visual design, so may yet add more comfy footwear.