laser league

Roll7’s new sci-fi sports sim is in a league of its own

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Dom Re­seigh-Lin­coln

PUB­LISHER 505 Games De­vel­oper Roll7 For­mat Xbox One ETA 2018

What hap­pens when a game of air hockey, a bul­let hell ti­tle and an old copy of Tron get whizzed to­gether in a de­vel­op­men­tal blender? Some­thing, we imag­ine, that looks and plays a lot like Laser League. Com­ing from Roll7 – the Bri­tish stu­dio that cut its teeth on the skate­board­ing Ol­liOlli se­ries and odd­ball third-per­son shooter Not A

Hero – this sci-fi sports sim is clearly hop­ing to bot­tle that same bolt of light­ning that turned Rocket League into a sur­prise mega hit.

So what is Laser League? It’s a neon-lit, top-down sports sim­u­la­tor that pits two teams – each boast­ing a dif­fer­ent gar­ish colour – in a se­ries of game modes where you use laser nodes to cre­ate walls of coloured death, as well as us­ing good old tack­les to take the other team out. It’s Tron with a splash of NFL Blitz, and much like that afore­men­tioned foot­ball/rac­ing mashup, Laser League is one of those games that takes some se­ri­ous prac­tice to mas­ter. We didn’t drop a ref­er­ence to bul­let hell games for fun, ei­ther – learn­ing to dodge, am­bush and zone in on the op­pos­ing team takes time, and you’ll get pun­ished a lot in your open­ing matches, but once you nail the mo­men­tum and how to use walls of lasers to their full ad­van­tage, the whole game opens up.

It might be com­ing from a stu­dio that made its name on games with sim­ple and easy-to-pick-up con­cepts, but just like those past ef­forts, there’s an ocean of daunt­ing depth be­neath its slick sur­face. There’s a stag­ger­ing 60 char­ac­ters to choose from, all tied to five re­gional brands (Em­pire, Gen Hao, Sil­ver­tip, Al Shama and Be­yond), and you can per­son­alise your cho­sen ath­lete up to the fu­tur­is­tic gills with over 250 cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions. But it’s when you ac­tu­ally step into each of the game’s are­nas that things start to get re­ally in­ter­est­ing.

Fu­ture per­fect

Tak­ing a leaf out of Overwatch’s book,

Laser League is bas­ing its three main sta­di­ums in real coun­tries, be­cause why not sprin­kle in a little bit of re­al­ism into a game that’s mostly about puls­ing lasers and buck­ets of fu­tur­is­tic neon light? You’ll head to the Em­pire Cam­pus in the UK, the Geng Hao Me­gaplex in China and Sil­ver­tip Arena in the USA. There are 12 maps split across all three lo­ca­tions and each one of­fers a spe­cial mode with unique prop­er­ties. Maybe you’ll take on the clock­wise ro­ta­tion of Carousel, the fran­tic move­ment of Ric­o­chet or the ut­ter chaos of War­zone. Each one has a com­pletely unique feel that re­quires a twist on the usual dash, bash and fry tem­plate.

Oh, did we men­tion that afore­men­tioned depth finds new fath­oms when fac­tor­ing in char­ac­ter classes as well? It’s here that you can find a set of abil­i­ties that suits your own playstyle, with six classes to choose from. There’s the Shock (per­fect for shock­ing op­po­nents that are swarm­ing you), Smash (com­plete with a long-range dash), Blade (quick kills, up close), Ghost (short bursts of in­vin­ci­bil­ity), Thief (steal nodes con­trolled by your op­po­nents) and Snipe (mix­ing tele­por­ta­tion and traps).

It’s an in­cred­i­bly in­tox­i­cat­ing little cu­rio, de­spite its steep early learn­ing curve, and we’re al­ready hooked by its pun­ish­ing mix­ture of speed, melee com­bat and tac­ti­cal node con­trol. It’s clearly hop­ing to be the next Rocket

League, rather than the next Disc Jam, and if it man­ages to find a nice balance be­tween its vastly dif­fer­ent classes then sport­ing glory may be on the score­board.

“There’s an ocean of daunt­ing depth be­neath its slick sur­face”

Laser League is in Early Ac­cess on Steam be­fore it hits Xbox One later this year

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