Roll7, the developers of Olli Olli and Not a Hero are back with an ambitious, unexpected new game. Laser League is a tough one to describe, but simple to pick up on after a single match. Two teams run around a field while inactive laser emitters move in set patterns and shapes across the arena. Players compete over control of each emitter, because once they’re touched and turned on, they spit out lasers that dissolve the opposing team on contact.
The arena quickly gets crowded with moving laser beams changing color and control while players dance around, dodging opponents and dissolution in a stressful spin on territory control. Lasers turn off after a set amount of time, so players will constantly need to scramble to keep lasers in their possession. Watch the trailer above or read publisher 505 Games’ description to get a clearer idea:
“In Laser League, the exhilarating, high-octane contact sport of 2150, players battle against the opposition for control of nodes that bathe the arena in deadly light. Evading rival colored beams, teams attempt to fry their opponents with speed, strength and strategy. Special offensive and defensive abilities, as well as game-changing power-ups on the arena floor, provide an edge at the crucial moment.”
The mental game is articulated by a few different classes, including a thief that can take control of a laser emitter without waiting for it to turn off, a brutish class than can dash into opponents to stun them or knock them through a beam, and a few others. And the team that loses the first set of matches gets a chance to pick their classes again to better counter the winning team.
At an event in Santa Monica a few weeks ago, I got to play a match of Laser League for myself, and really liked it. The controls are snappy and simple, though tracking your tiny character on a busy screen was a bit difficult at times. There was plenty of hooting and hollering, and by the time we got halfway through the match, our team was already calling out our opponents’ positions and forming distributing tasks on the fly. With a few hours I knew we’d have a Laser League specific vocabulary built and growing.
Because the concept feels so closely tied to arcade games, I can see it being a hit for couch-friendly multiplayer groups, but despite the fancy football Tron presentation, I’m not sure it’ll get any professional competitive following. There are untold depths to the strategy of team compositions and I’d love to see what a truly skilled player looks like behind the controller. It’s just doesn’t have the visual accessibility of car soccer.
Either way, I’m excited to play more, and we’ll all get to play pretty soon. Laser League is releasing into Early Access on Steam this summer before the final version hits in 2018.