Laser League Review – Subzero Sweat Dripping

There’s a looooot of competition at the moment when it comes to multiplayer titles.

You’ve got Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Rainbow Six: Siege, Grand Theft Auto V, Halo 5, Rocket League… Ahhh, Rocket League, the only game with a flawless competitive angle. It’s one of those games that can easily be picked up and played by anybody, so naturally it’s only fair that somebody attempts to emulate the formula. In the case of Laser League, the emulation may be a bit too much.

This here is a first for UK-based studio Roll7, a exclusively-multiplayer game that mixes Rocket League with Tron and Search ‘n’ Destroy. Before today’s title, Roll7 were responsible for the interesting OlliOlli, its fantastic sequel, and the severely underrated Not A Hero. With a different goal in mind, does Laser League have the chutzpah to reign supreme in today’s multiplayer world?

No plot to speak of means that we can jump right into the gameplay, which is to-the-point and fun. You and up to 2 buddies can face off against another team of up to 3 in a small rectangular arena. From there, random streams of light will appear, and it’s up to you and your team to make those streams of light your colour so you can neutralize the enemy.

A general game will be the best of 3 matches, with the 3 matches being the first team to 3 winning. With this in mind, it’d be fair to assume that games do drag on a bit, but you’re mostly wrong. As time progresses, the laser spawns become erratic and wider, meaning that chance of survival weakens with every laser gate that isn’t yours.

To help you along the way, there’s also a heavy handful of match power-ups that spawn on the field, along with some pre-match abilities and passive upgrades relating to the abilities. It implies that there’s depth to the playing field, although there’s not much proof to that being the case, especially when most of them overlap. Shield Bashing and Shocking are used to the same effects, with Shield Bashing usually taking your enemies out of harms way, and when it comes to the passive bonuses, the only one that matters is the faster charge-up for your ability.

What’s weirdly enticing is the visual design, even if it looks a little… familiar. A lot of the character models are eerily reminiscent of the enemies you can face in the new generation of Deus Ex games, right down to the weird metallic stilt guys from the Breach game mode in Mankind Divided. This isn’t really critique or praise, it’s just an odd sidenote that makes me think that someone at Roll7 is a fan of “not asking for this”.

The best thing you can say about Roll7 is that they know how to make a game unique. Despite them taking heavy cues from Psyonix’s baby, they’ve managed to carve a game that is not only distinguishable from the inspiration, it also looks like it could stand head to head against Rocket League. If anything, this has always been the case with Roll7’s titles, but Laser League definitely is the flashiest of all their games.

However… 

While Laser League has the best execution of all of Roll7’s games, it’s not necessarily their best game to date. Laser League’s biggest issue comes from the fact that there’s simply not enough here to generate a long-lasting interest, even if the game is as fun as it can be. There’s no real substantial or meaty part of the game, it’s simply Laser Tag in 10-minute bursts.

The game’s more “proof-of-concept” than anything else out there. You have a small rectangular arena and that’s that, “generate your own fun and e-Leagues and we’ll give you a thumbs up along the way” is all the game seems to offer, and while I wish I could think of more things to say, I simply can’t. There’s not enough here to provide a dense review.

 

If we look at this from an idea standpoint, then Laser League has a decent idea behind it. It’s fast, it’s frantic, it’s on-the-spot thinking and every moment plays like a 1v5 situation in Rainbow Six: Siege due to the intensity. In terms of excitement, it’s up there, but only briefly and it’s not too long before the quaint nature of the title passes, and it’s just another gimmicky multiplayer title to fill the pile.

When it comes to the game modes, it’s just Search ‘n’ Destroy/Elimination, when it comes to the abilities, they overlap, and when it comes to the arenas, no amount of different streams of light are going to change what they are: Rectangular boxes. This is something you’re going to play for an hour with a buddy before you go back to Rocket League and call the guy who scored an aerial buzzer beater a dick.

 

As much as it pains me to say it, despite the wonderful small bursts of enjoyment that Laser League provides, it might not be enough to let the game stay at the top with the big boys. There’s not enough evolutions at play, and there’s not enough of a product here to recommend, which is heartbreaking when we consider just how much Roll7 can do with so little. If you have an Xbox One, then you have the advantage of getting this as part of the Game Pass subscription service, but everyone else?  It’s debatable as to whether this is worth around 15 bucks.

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