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Steel Circus is a free-to-play future sport coming to Early Access in August

I only care about future sports—give me neon and robots and a reckless disregard for health and safety regulations. Steel Circus appears to have all of that. It's a sci-fi sport that tosses two teams of three into an arena to duke it out and score some goals all in an effort to maintain peace throughout the solar system. Noble! It's coming to Steam Early Access next month, but first you can watch the launch cinematic above. 

Unlike boring contemporary sports, Steel Circus' athletes scoff at the idea of uniforms, and rather than having positions, their two unique abilities make them more like MOBA or RPG classes. Support characters can buff and heal, long-range characters can whittle down their foes, and brawlers can wade over to the opposition and start smashing skulls.

Since the launch trailer doesn't show off any in-game footage, here's another with some match highlights:

There are some Monday Night Combat vibes, which takes me back, and of course Rocket League looms over just about every ball game, though aside from the ricocheting the similarities here seem pretty superficial. Maybe I just want to see it, but is there just a hint of the criminally underappreciated Frozen Cortex in there, too? 

It's real-time and pretty brisk, but it's not all action and speed. It's tactical as well as fast-paced, according developer Iron Mountain Interactive. When it's finished, there will be 15+ characters, introducing different playstyles and abilities, and you'll need to figure out how to take advantage of your two teammates' skills as well as your own. When it launches in Early Access, however, you'll only need to get a handle on six of them.

The plan is to launch with two arenas, each with different layouts and environmental quirks, and more will be introduced across Early Access, along with new characters and customisation features. The focus is on the "core competitive game mode" at the moment, but more modes will be added during development. 

It's free to play, but a premium bundle will be available that gives you all the characters, as well as supporter packs and unique cosmetics. There won't be any advantages for sale, however, and Iron Mountain promises that you won't have to open any loot boxes. 

Steel Circus is due out on Steam Early Access on August 8.

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.