Thursday, June 22, 2017
OlliOlli developers Roll7 have a knack for making addictive games - anyone that played the 2D skateboarding title will know that. The studio also did a pretty good job with Not A Hero - another 2D affair, this time focusing on shooting. So when we got hands-on with the team’s newest 3D party game, we were a little concerned - moving away from the familiar, two-dimensional setup could have been a massive risk, but it ended up paying off big time.
Laser League is a team-based multiplayer game that is brought to life with light-based graphics that gives the whole thing a markedly Tron-like aesthetic. You can play with up to six people (3v3) and the aim is to use switches built into each stage to activate your laser colours whilst avoiding the enemy’s own colour.
Sounds simple, right? Like all great party games, that’s where the fun lies - the game is pretty simple to understand, but in action, it’s difficult to master. Triggering lasers is the simplest part of the game, but because they despawn pretty quickly, there’s always something to do in the arena.
Some of the stages will summon rotating lines that you must avoid whilst running around to activate more of your own traps, some stages instead fire off lasers of different colours, and some just create impenetrable walls that can trap your enemies in. Each character type also has a special skill - some can knock enemies in a radius around you down, perfect bait for a laser, whilst others can charge up a sword slash and take you out of the game that way. Working with the interplay between all stage types and skills is vital to succeed.
The game works on what the developer called a ‘Pacman mechanic’ where you can disappear off the sides of the stage and blindside your opponents if they aren’t paying attention. Add this into all the mechanics listed above, and you’ve got a pretty chaotic setup (especially if you get into 3v3!). To add another ingredient into the mix, the game will also randomly spawn power ups every now and then - these can freeze all lasers in play, reverse the direction of traveling lasers, amongst other things.
If you’re not working as a team, you’re not going to have a good time with Laser League. You need to think about where everyone in play is at any one time, and try and anticipate enemy movements to get ahead of the game. We used the area of effect ability to stun enemies, before our teammate rushed in with the sword to take them out of the game. This tactic worked well until we began to rely on it, when our opponents then started to ambush us with surprise laser triggers.
The game really does work on a variety of levels, and discovering how each layer works and can be used to your advantage is really good fun. As the game’s name would suggest, it does remind us of Rocket League in its setup, but the gameplay very different. If you’ve recently gotten frustrated or bored of Psyonix’s multiplayer hit, this may be the game for you: it presses all the right buttons and maintains that party feeling that we crave from both couch co-op and online games these days.
Laser League will release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2018.