People are taking this free-to-play hockey game very seriously

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Slapshot (opens in new tab) is similar to a game called Hockey? (opens in new tab), in that rather than triggering an animation to shoot as in the 2K and EA NHL games, you manually control your stick at every step, flicking your mouse to swing it harder and whack the puck. (And, obviously, because it's also hockey.)

Slapshot is littler easier to get the hang of than Hockey?, because it's in third-person, though it doesn't offer quite the same fine puck control. It's more like sliding around the rink as a Fisher-Price toy. You can push the puck with your body or attempt to stickhandle and shoot by moving the mouse left or right to spin around.

As Slapshot is free-to-play on Steam, it seemed like a place burnt out Rocket League players might coalesce, and I wasn't disappointed—spamming some Rocket League quickchat lines got an immediate response—but the awkward shooting and skating (the Fisher-Price toys just glide around like the puck itself) didn't deaden anyone's competitive spirit.

While I was chasing the puck and spinning around wildly, hoping to get any kind of shot off, some of my opponents were deftly stickhandling, moving from forehand to backhand, shooting lasers down the ice. Meanwhile, some of my teammates were imploring me to rotate—that is, replace teammates when they vacate a defensive position to go after the puck—and to stop puck chasing. One teammate quit because I bumped into him after he chastised me, but I was just trying to simulate a bit of on-ice teammate drama. As the NHL postseason approaches, I guess hockey fans aren't in the mood to goof off. No one's going to beat Tampa Bay with a flippant attitude.

Above: I'm bad, but thanks to Julez my plus-minus got a bump.

As my frustrated teammates knew, Slapshot, and hockey, are all about teamwork—being in the right place at the right time, taking hits to make the play, hitting passes, all that color commentator stuff. Bunching up like kids doesn't work. 

Slapshot's presentation leaves something to be desired, and controlling the stick is uncomfortable in a way that's hard to describe—like trying to get to a specific number on a volume slider, but every time you move your mouse it accelerates to 11. But it's fun, and free, and players are taking its depth and teamwork seriously. As the developers work through their roadmap (opens in new tab), I could see Slapshot becoming an occasional game in my party's rotation, at least whenever the friends need a break from CS:GO.

You can pick up Slapshot on Steam (opens in new tab). For $10 you can unlock the 'full version,' which lets you customize the look of your character.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.