(I'm not kidding about the lightcycle.)
Laser League has been built upon a simple premise that provides tons of fun.
Developed by Roll7, the studio behind Not a Hero and OlliOlli, Laser League presents itself as an Esports title but instantly succeeds as a stellar party game. Amidst neon-highlights reminiscent of Tron, teams of 1-4 are presented to screaming crowds; cameras pull in tight as athletes pose triumphantly. Hype established, the game switches to a top-down view and chaos truly begins.
Aesthetic established, Laser League then borrows from the likes of Pac-Man and Bomberman. A simple, rectangular map will occasionally throw deactivated laser barriers down — simply running over them will set them off. When this happens, a laser, coloured according to your team, fires. Your goal is to cause your opponents to run into your allied lasers while at the same time avoiding theirs.
You can dodge lasers by running off the map and reappearing on the other side, just like in Pac-Man. There are no barriers around any point of the map, so you can go top-to-bottom and left-to-right (or the reverse) anywhere you’d like. On top of this, occasional power-ups will drop, offering the chance to reverse laser colours or speed yourself up.
Finally, there are different classes of athlete for the player to choose, each with two abilities at their disposal on console (or three on PC, you lucky ducks). One class can stun opponents in spot, while another comes with a laser sword that can be used to fell opponents as examples. As in games like Overwatch, character selection can play a huge role in your success.
It doesn’t really get more complicated than that, though it’s hard to describe how badly you brain will certainly break at times when trying to comprehend the spinning barrage of colours hitting your senses. At those times, Laser League is at its best (and if you trip out and hit an enemy laser, its worst).
That said, there’s still a bit of fine-tuning to do. It’d be nice to have seen parity across consoles and PC ahead of release. The PC currently has extra class abilities, more maps and laser patterns (and I want them). The PS4s hardware means you’ll be restricted to 4 players when engaging in local play, compared to eight on PC and Xbox One (though that’s hardly Roll7’s fault). Local play obviously works better, though you can party up and eventually play against bots if other opponents cannot be found — this only works about half the time, from our pre-release attempts. Patience was key, though hopefully that won’t be as big an issue now that Laser League is in the wild.
The biggest gripe I had with play is that online matches will issue your team with a new neon colour per match — I struggled to remember I was pink last match and green the next; it reminded me of when I used to play Halo 3 and yell, “kill the blues!” at the start of each match to keep focus. As such, it’d be nice to be able to select ‘your’ colour and run with it for ease of use, knowing you’ll always be visible as pink when playing.
Laser League is a budget-priced gem. An instant party favourite, I could see this developing into a proper Esports phenomenon like Rocket League. It’s availability inside Xbox Game Pass will certainly encourage and help to develop a strong user base. Have a go for yourself and see what you think.
Laser League was reviewed using promotional codes on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.