Laser League Open Beta Impressions
Laser League is the upcoming multiplayer title developed by Roll7. The team is known for OlliOlli, and with Laser League, they are trying to give the world a new highly competitive eSports title that combines fast-paced movement with laser walls and some cool abilities.
The game is all about skill, reflexes, and team strategy. The premise is pretty straightforward – you and your team have to capture nodes that spawn variously shaped, moving laser walls while each team member possesses a unique ability that can be activated every once in a while when its timer fills. The goal is making the entire opponent’s team disappearing from the field by being hit by a laser wall, or by your team’s abilities. Each team member can revive downed allies, and the game is played in best of three fashion with each set being played until one team wins three gems.
There are six classes to choose from in total, and each one comes with one special ability. Blade can hit enemies with his laser sword from close distance, Shock has an AoE blast that knocks down all enemies caught within, Ghost can move through laser walls owned by the enemy team for a short while, Thief can steal nodes and flip laser walls to your team color, Smash is capable of hitting other players and send them flying (to a wall, in a perfect scenario), and Sniper can teleport at the same time creating a line between start and end point that will destroy all players who cross it.
The game looks like huge Tron fans have made it – neon lights, a dazzling difference between super bright player characters and laser walls and dark as a moonless night playing field, and the use of just a few colors. The game doesn’t look extravagant, and it shouldn’t bore intense graphics. Instead, Laser League features an art style that keeps important elements clearly visible while avoiding throwing many different elements on the screen, which is an excellent thing for a competitive multiplayer game.
The open beta was live during the Jan 20-21 weekend, and we took the chance and played Laser League for a couple of hours during the course of Saturday and Sunday. During the beta, there were two modes available, 2vs2 and 3vs3. So, is the game any good?
Well, it depends on whether you play with friends or with random people. Laser League is all about strategy and cooperation. There are six classes in total and for the team to have a chance to win the game each member has to pick a class that can synergize with classes selected by other players. Smash and Blade can work together with the first one knocking down enemies while the other one destroying them while they are down. Smash can work with Thief too; Thief can steal a wall and Smash can send enemies flying into it a second later. Shock and Blade are also great to have on one team. As you see, players can perform various combos so picking right classes is very important.
Once a match starts everyone just start running around, capturing nodes and trying to destroy opponents. Players can teleport by entering walls and exiting on opposite sides of them, making the game even more exciting and fast. There are power-ups to pick up, giving your team bonuses while making the situation harder for opponents, and after a while, lasers will shut down and will need to be captured again in order to turn them back on.
This makes for a highly confusing game when played with strangers. You have to watch which classes will other pick and only then choose yours. And that doesn’t guarantee synergy and lots of combos because you just can’t move in sync. You can try, but that will last for just a few seconds before one of you decides to continue in an opposite direction. Reviving players is relatively easy, but more often than not you will find two of you going towards a downed teammate, giving the opposing team a perfect opportunity to destroy both of you. In short, playing with strangers is torturing experience. You will curse, you will be nervous, and you will want to exit the game.
We played solo, with random teams, during Saturday and the experience was mind shattering in the most negative way. It is relatively easy to win when the opposing team also is made out of people who don’t know each other, but once you face a team made out of friends you will be swept in just a couple of minutes. You will notice a team where people play together immediately – they incorporate various strategies (like all three going for specific nodes as soon as the match starts, or traveling in packs in order to perform combo moves), are organized, and are very hard to beat.
Sunday came, and a couple of friends joined me in order to see if Laser League can be a better game once when playing with people we can talk to. The game transformed into a massively addictive multiplayer game that is a beauty to play and to look at. Organized actions, superb combos, classes that build upon one another, lots of wins, intense communication between all team members, and just immensely better overall experience, all because we played together and cooperated.
So, Laser League is an intense multiplayer title that’s highly competitive, and that just can’t be played with strangers [It sounds like a lot of online competitive games. — Ed]. You have to find a friend or two and talk with them at all times in order to win games, and to have the best possible experience. The best scenario is to gather together and play the game when it becomes the best version of itself. Grab some bears and snacks, bring laptops, and the time will just fly when playing Laser League.
The game does have a strong eSports flavor, and it should become a strong competitive title. The biggest problem with the game is at the same time its biggest strength. Fun factor is over 9000 when playing with friends, but it sinks below 9000 when teaming up with random people. This could either make the game to explode and become super popular, or it could condemn it to a small but faithful player community. Because, in order for a multiplayer title to get popular, it has to be fun even when playing solo.