STAFF REVIEW of Laser League (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Laser League Box art Developers Roll7, best known for OlliOlli, have released their newest game, Laser League, hoping to break into the sports genre with tons of lasers and a colorful Tron-like artistic style. Maybe it’s due to being an 80’s child, but I instinctively find myself always gravitating towards games with a vibrant neon Tron-like style. Like most sports games of this nature on gaming consoles, you’ll catch on really quickly to the core mechanics, but you will need to spend some time to learn its intricacies and strategies to win consistently.

The year is 2150 and the hottest sport is Laser League, where you fight for control of nodes that spawn deadly lasers of color, attempting to not only defeat, but destroy your competition to win. This is the future though, so obviously everything is bright, vibrant, neon and of course, lightning fast. You’ll surely need to use your reflexes, master fakes, and strategically choose your classes and power-up use timing if you want to be victorious across the handful of arenas.

Like most sports, there are different types of players, categorized into classes. While they may not have positions like in traditional sports, each one is completely unique and has their own special abilities, making half the strategy choosing the correct classes to outplay your opponents. The six classes are as follows:

Blade – Able to utilize a short range attack to eliminate the competition.

Smash – Equips a shield that can short-range dash into enemies, knocking them backwards and briefly stunning, hopefully into the moving lasers.

Ghost – Allows a brief moment of invulnerability, allowing you to phase through a laser to escape or revive a teammate when needed.

Thief – This class has an ability that allows you to steal an active enemy node away from the competition.

Shock – This class has an ability to produce a small area of effect that will briefly disable (stun) enemies

And lastly Snipe – This class allows you to drop a marker, which produces a line between it and wherever you are, allowing you to teleport to it, subsequently eliminating any enemies if the path if timed correctly.

Surely, some people will gravitate towards specific classes, as they cater to certain playstyles, but over the course of playing dozens of matches, I found most players online tend to stick with Smash, as the knockback is simply too good to pass up, especially when you learn its range and timing, both offensive and defensively. I’m hoping some balancing tweaks will come in the future that will make choosing the other classes more enticing. Not only do you have a choice of class, but modifiers as well, to help augment your playstyle, either to help improve your class or make up for your shortcomings.

During a match, you’ll not only have to keep track of everything from players to lasers constantly changing and moving, but power-ups will also appear on the playfield randomly. These can be game changers and sway the match in your favor, but it can also sway against you if the enemy uses them at the appropriate time. With over a dozen different power-ups, you’ll want to learn the icons, as grabbing the power-up that swaps all laser colors, especially if you’re in the lead, can be more of a detriment. There are over a dozen power-ups that will wildly change the field for a short time, such as swapping laser nodes, cancelling all active ones, reversing laser directions, pausing lasers and many more.

Another skill you’re going to have to master quickly if you want to rack up the wins, is the wall wrap. This allows you to evade or attack by quickly warping from one side of the arena to the other. Simply walk into the left wall and you’ll appear on the right side. Run upwards and you’ll appear on the bottom. You’ll need to master this if you want any hope of winning, as it’s usually the only way to avoid the laser grids and opposing team.

When you’re playing 2v2 or 3v3 and a teammate gets eliminated, there will be an icon on the ground indicating where they died. If you manage to run over the icon, they can be revived, though this becomes very tricky when avoiding lasers and enemies alike. A good team will have each other’s backs, making reviving a priority whenever possible.

There’s a level-up/progression system, and it is based on how well you do certain things such as winning matches, etc. There’s also a ton of character customization items you can unlock as well, allowing you to tweak your character to your liking. It does take a while to unlock many of the pieces, but this will help with the longevity if you want to have all of the unlockable items.

Local competitive play is available, and so is online 2v2 and 3v3 matches. While a multiplayer only game will live or die by its community numbers, Roll7 did something smart and included bots for when players can’t be found to fill matches. I’d say about half my matches played were against someone with AI substitutions, and the rest were matches full human controlled players. It seems as there’s not much of a matchmaking system behind the scenes though, as numerous times a group of us low level players were pitted against much higher ranked players, rather than evening out the teams. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck, but that was my online experience while reviewing this game.

Laser League is very easy to understand and pickup, but like most great titles, it will take time and patience to master. There’s a lot more to the gameplay than simply avoiding lasers, even though that may be your first impression, as there’s a surprisingly deep strategy that needs to be employed to pull off those wins, along with lightning quick reflexes. Laser League is fresh, new and exciting, and even though it emanates an obvious Tron vibe with its visuals, I applaud its innovativeness and accessibility for those looking for something different than what’s offered now in the competitive landscape.

Overall: 8.3 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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