Much like Rocket League did a few years ago, Roll7's Laser League is set to catch everyone off-guard by becoming the the game we never knew we needed.
In the distant future of 2150, humankind has probably done a ton of cool, noteworthy stuff. But none of that matters, because we've apparently developed the most badass sport in the history of the world: Laser League.
Dive into one of the four techno dreamscape stadiums, select your team of four, and be prepared for a wacky, fast-paced, and all-around wild ride. Your goal is simple: control the nodes around the map to create lasers in your team’s colour. Avoid enemy lasers, while forcing the opposition into yours. The last team standing is crowned the winner over a three game competition. Do you have the endurance, reflexes, and brains to make it through? Or will you become laser fodder?
There's no 'i' in team
Laser League is crisp, fluid, and streamlined. The competitions take place in one of four arenas, each with four variations. The variations are merely how the laser grid will be set up. Assembling your team is more than just a throwaway task, as you will quickly realise how important team composition is. There are six unique classes to choose from: Shock, Snipe, Smash, Blade, Ghost, and Thief. These allow you to affect the flow of the game in different ways; the Thief can take over enemy lasers for their own team, for example, and Shock's ability can stun the opponent.
Beyond that, each class can equip a modifier to further personalise their player with mods like extended status duration or quicker ability charge. Customisation here is very important, as it directly affects team balance. The character cosmetic customisation is a bit less exciting, however, seeing as how the overhead camera rarely lets you see your player.
When the game gets going, it’s time to get serious. Right off the bat, there are nodes to capture and control, with more and more popping up as the game goes on. The ability to pass through the walls to the opposite side of the arena makes for some interesting moments, like stealing an enemy node from behind or bashing an enemy through the wall with Smash into your laser on the other side. Teammates can be revived after going down, and enemy revives can be camped out. Fifteen unique power-ups also litter the pitch, that can pause lasers in their place or even swap team’s lasers (a power-up that can save or lose a game, if you’re not careful).
The flow of the game is simply perfect. It’s not too fast or too slow, and there isn’t a class that feels outclassed by any of the others. Each serves a purpose that is integral to team success, and composition matters a lot.
Satisfying gameplay, even in defeat
As you’d expect, the hectic gameplay of Laser League is very much an exercise in controlled insanity. It’s about balancing strategy and your innate killer instinct. I love the moments when you and an opposing player are charging towards the same node. Do you hold onto your ability and try and bait out your opponents? Or do you plunge in headfirst, with fists swinging?
The little moments of indecision and hesitation quickly lead to death in Laser League, and they make for a more interesting gameplay experience. You rarely find yourself in a familiar or comfortable position, so adaptability and flexibility are key. The tension and feeling of haste the game places on you makes for incredibly exciting moments, and leads to equal amounts of panic and frustration. Both of which do nothing but help create a fantastic atmosphere around each game.
An audiovisual marvel
I can’t get over how gorgeous Laser League is. For a sports game, it truly captures the eyes and ears of its players.
Striking colours bounce back and forth as pumping music and roaring crowds reverberate in the background. Going from game to game, the colour switching of teams can be a bit disorienting, as I’ve forgotten a few times that I’m not always going to be orange. But most of the time, I’m dying and losing because I’m paying too much attention to how great everything looks or running around aimlessly just having an absolute blast. The team at Roll7 truly crafted a memorable experience here, and it shows in every part of the game, from the stellar and balanced gameplay to the gorgeous and detailed world around it.
A multiplayer dream and an esport contender
Whether local or online, Laser League proves to be a necessary addition to any gamer’s library. I haven’t played a sports game in a long time that I thought was a must-have, until this arrived. It is unbelievably easy to learn and incredibly fun to master. I doubt I’ll grow tired of this anytime soon, and I anticipate each new game every time I load it up. Not since Rocket League has a game surprised me so much by absolutely nailing its attempt at something so offbeat yet so engaging. It’s built to be enjoyed between friends and online communities; the rush you get when playing the game is evidence of why it deserves to be enjoyed that way.
I cannot imagine a future where Laser League isn’t a favourite among the esports community. It simply cries out to be played in stadiums packed with roaring fans. Its end of the match highlight, its intense and rapid gameplay; each piece of the game screams spectator sport. I'd love to watch some professional gamers go at it in tournaments across the globe. But, even if Laser League doesn’t latch on and become an esports staple, I’ll still fire it up on my TV, gather my friends together, and compete for the personal glory gained through blood and sweat on the laser-ridden battlefields of tomorrow.
The future is now
Laser League is special. A simple premise with deep intricacies that begs to be played over and over again, it deserves a lot of recognition. From the vibrant colours to the high octane action on the pitch, Laser League never fails to be an eye-catching and remarkable gaming experience.
This game is the type of gem you hope to find when browsing the online store; the type of game that has a sweet promo image and a flashy trailer. The only thing is, when you boot Laser League up, it’s actually as awesome as you thought it’d be. Beneath all the trimmings and little things that this game does so well, and outside of the intense competitive nature that keeps driving me back again and again, Laser League does something even more important: it reminds you, like all my favourite games of yesteryear, that gaming is supposed to be fun.