Laser League

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

Few saw this com­ing. In­die stu­dio Roll7 has an im­pres­sive pedi­gree, win­ning a BAFTA for its Ol­li­olli skate­board­ing game and plau­dits for 2015’s gag-filled Not a Hero. But an im­me­di­ately ac­ces­si­ble, team­work-es­sen­tial, daz­zlingly orig­i­nal es­ports hit in wait­ing? Nah. No­body could have called that a cou­ple of years ago.

But that’s pre­cisely what Laser League is – or, rather, what it could be. right now, the game’s still evolv­ing, with spaces for new are­nas and player classes to be added to the mix. and its cur­rent user num­bers aren’t ter­rific ei­ther, with long match­mak­ing times ex­pe­ri­enced on Ps4 – though that’s less of an is­sue for Xbox one own­ers, where Laser League is on the Game Pass pro­gram.

But we’re get­ting ahead of our­selves – let’s take a mo­ment to ex­plain the es­sen­tials. Laser League is a fu­ture­set sports game, where two teams of be­tween one and four play­ers (twos and threes only for on­line play) com­pete against one an­other in a rec­tan­gu­lar arena to elim­i­nate the op­po­si­tion. those who are left stand­ing win the game – best of three games per round, best of three rounds per match. sim­ple.

and how the losers wind up de­feated is ele­men­tary, too. each team wears a cer­tain (glo­ri­ously bright) colour, and lasers that spread across the arena cor­re­spond to one of the two, de­pend­ing on who ac­ti­vates them. your avatar can pass through their lasers – but is elim­i­nated when they touch the other team’s im­pen­e­tra­ble beams. Play­ers can be re­vived by team­mates – just run over where they fell – and can also warp from one wall to its op­po­site side via tele­por­ta­tion-like ‘wrap­ping’ (think Pac­man chomp­ing off to the right only to reap­pear on the left).

that’s the ba­sics – but once you stir in a va­ri­ety of player classes, rang­ing from ag­gres­sive at­tack-ori­en­tated op­tions to more de­fen­sively minded load­outs, tide-turn­ing power-up items, and each arena’s wildly dif­fer­ent laser pat­terns, Laser League be­comes a whole lot more strate­gic. teams must turn out with com­ple­men­tary player classes – a full squad of blade-wield­ers is un­likely to beat op­po­nents with a more bal­anced team sheet. as the matches be­come in­creas­ingly hec­tic, with walls of in­stant-ko neon ev­ery­where, so ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion mat­ters all the more.

Play­ing lo­cally, with friendly co-op part­ners be­side you, is the ideal way to ex­pe­ri­ence Laser League. the game de­mands fa­mil­iar­ity be­tween its fu­tur­is­tic ath­letes if they’re to suc­ceed. Played on­line with strangers the game’s not quite so ar­rest­ing, but re­mains a com­pelling propo­si­tion, ca­pa­ble of emer­gent drama as as­sumed un­der­dogs claw it back, and sud­den-death match points ratchet up the ten­sion to hardly bear­able lev­els.

roll7 have de­liv­ered a game with the po­ten­tial to be a proper es­ports con­tender. all Laser League needs is enough play­ers to pro­pel it to the heights it de­serves.

De­tails For­mat: PS4 other For­mats: Xbox One, PC ori­gin: UK Pub­lisher: 505 Games De­vel­oper: Roll7 Price: £11.99 Re­lease: Out now Play­ers: 1-6 on­line, 1-8 off­line on­line Re­viewed: Yes

Above: With users thin on the ground on PS4, don’t be sur­prised to face-off against a fair few bots Right: Laser League clicks af­ter a sin­gle match – re­veals it­self to be a mul­ti­player game of great depth.

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