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.
Not A hero