One of the most fun gaming experiences I had at this year’s E3 was with a game from Roll7 published by 505 Games. This little futuristic sports gem is Laser League, and after competing in multiple 2 vs 2 matches against other gaming press members, I can’t wait to get back to the action, which resembles TRON’s game grid with a hint of Roman Gladiator action.
Laser League is classified as an Arcade Sports Multiplayer title, but it really should just fall under the “Bitching Good Time” classification for video games, because it’s just a freaking blast to play with other people in a live setting (can play online too). The gameplay is rather simple — you and up to eight other players control one of six classes of characters in an arena filled with neon colored walls of death, and the last team or player standing wins. Matches have three rounds, so to win the day you must take two out of three rounds, which greatly adds to the competitive aspect of this game, and definitely heightens the levels of excitement and disappointment that you’ll experience in every match.
In my session I was teamed up with another media member against two other media members, and we played two of the available game modes in Laser League. The first mode simply had us trying to activate poles of light, which in turn would make them change to our team color — effectively turning them into pinwheels of death that the other team had to avoid. The enemy team also has poles of light to turn into their weapons, so Laser League matches become a ballet of frenetic but skill-based action as each team hurries around the map to activate more poles, or to avoid ones already turned by the enemy.
The second mode had to main pole nodes in the center to defend, but also had four nodes that once activated by your team would fly like lasers towards the other team, so it was even more insane than the first mode. There is literally no rest for the weary in this game, so if you’re looking to relax just move on, because Laser League is all about organized chaos.
Your main task really is moving, which is the core mechanic of the twitchy gameplay, but thanks to the six available character classes, you also have unique time-based special moves at your disposal. The classes include: Smash, Thief, Ghost, Shock, Snipe and Blade. Each one offers up an ability that can make or break a match. I played with the Shock and Blade classes, which allowed me to shock and stun an enemy, or slash at them for an insta-kill. My partner on the other hand rolled with Thief and Ghost, which allow you to steal a pole node, or phase through them unharmed respectively. At all times we had to balance our abilities with the frantic pace of each round, so while the abilities can change the course of a round or eventually the match, your twitchy skills on the controller are what will ultimately lead to success.
Although, when you pull off a perfectly timed Blade kill, or drop a Shock just as your node is about to hit an enemy, you will let out a raucous roar of excitement and gratification. Of course, on the other hand, if you fall to a well timed and placed ability you will groan out in defeat and embarrassment.
It’s this social aspect that really makes Laser League so damn fun. While it would still be enjoyable on your own, it excels with living competition, so gamers who live with other gamers, or those who game with similar minded players online will get the most out of it. I’ve never had so much fun with an E3 demo, which I credit to Laser League’s precise controls and mechanics, but also to the fact that the feeling of competition is strong and rewarding in both victory and defeat. Being an older gamer who hasn’t played organized sports since High School, I found the competitive nature of Laser League to scratch that itch, which is one I’ve left unscratched for quite some time.
Based on how much fun I had I plan to follow this game’s development through launch with eager eyes and fingers (twitchy). It will be releasing on Steam Early Access this Summer, and it is due out for PC by the end of 2017. PS4 and Xbox One versions are tentatively set for a 2018 release, so all platforms should essentially be covered. I even think it could come to the Switch if Nintendo and Roll7 can work out a deal, because it surely fits that console’s mantra of playing fun games with friends in the same room. Stay tuned for more Laser League action as it comes out, because you know your friends at EB will keep you up-to-date.
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