I quite like sports games, they offer a challenge that is so different to any other genre. You have to be fleet of foot, constantly thinking ahead to counter your opponent’s and master your own skills to ensure victory. Laser League is very much in this vein, with lasers coming at you at all angles, you’ll need to keep on your toes to survive.
A New Challenger Appears
The world of eSports is a growing one. There are a lot of good games that get played competitively, but there are a couple that still retain the most interest. For good reason, too, the amount of tactical knowledge and ability required to win is incredible. Dota 2 and League of Legends, as well as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are a few of the most subscribed eSports content, but other games are starting to make their presence known. Most recently, has been Rocket League. A tremendous game which requires a solid team, with everyone knowing their role and performing to their best to win. Now, Roll7 and 505 Games want to get in on the act with their latest game – Laser League.
In Laser League, you’re set up in a team, two-on-two, three-on-three or four-on-four, and the goal is to eliminate your opponents. You can do this in a couple of ways. The main way is to claim a laser node which sets a laser beam rolling down the field. From there, all you have to do is ‘guide’ your opponents into the beam and laugh gleefully at their pained scream. Forcing them into a beam can be quite challenging, but you have a couple of aces up your sleeve – if you pick your class correctly. There are a number of classes that can help with the task though. The one I found most useful was the ‘Smash’ class. With this class, you could, using your shield, bash into an opponent and send them flying across the field and, hopefully, into one of your team’s beams. Another class that was really good at killing your enemies was the ‘Shock’. This one electrocutes your opponents and drops them, motionless and helpless on the arena floor, unable to evade the oncoming lasers headed their way.
Laser League isn’t just limited to these two classes. There are another four to play with and try to master! The Ghost, which is a character that can make itself invulnerable for a limited time. The Blade is a class that has the ability to physically attack and kill opposing players. The Snipe class is one that can put a marker down and teleport to it, killing all who stands in his way. And finally, there is the Thief class. The Thief class is one of my favourites for indirect assassinations of players. It’s so much fun tailing someone who thinks they can grab a node from you, only for you to immediately convert it and kill them. It’s also incredibly useful when you’re in a bind. If you have a bunch of lasers hurtling towards you, no way out, the Thief can just wander up, convert it and walk through.
Perfecting one of the classes, and building a team that complements your chosen build is probably a simple task, right? Well, it’s not quite so easy. Each match in Laser League is in the best-of-three format, so win twice and you’re done. If you’re on a team that has just been completely wrecked by your opponents, during the break between games, you’re given the opportunity to amend your class to better counteract your opponents. What this means for the players is that it will be very unlikely to get by with just mastering the one class. Everyone in your team will need to be versatile and able to utilise each classes skills to optimise your chances of victory.
Knowing classes isn’t all there is in Laser League. You have to be able to know the playing field as well. There are a number of different maps in the game, with different beams spawning at different times throughout the duration of it. Knowing where to be and when in order to claim a laser node is of paramount importance. If you can get to it first, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to dominate the field and secure victory. There are also power ups that you need to be aware of. Some of them are really powerful and useful. There are two power ups that pose the most threat to teams. The Power power up will give your team all unconverted nodes on the map, which, if it spawns just after a Reset power up, will cause all sorts of trouble to your opponents. They aren’t without hope though, because if you have all the nodes on the map and a Switch power up spawns, well you’ll be in a lot of trouble. If anyone touches that power up, it’ll change all of the laser beams on the map to the opposite colour. Orange becomes blue, blue becomes orange. Chaos ensues.
For a game that’s only in beta, I found myself totally addicted to it. I’ll be disappointed when it expires and I have to wait for the full game, but there are definite learning points that Roll7 need to take on board before the full release. The most important of which is the balancing of teams in matches. While it’s not a hard rule that a level one player will be worse than a level five player, it does show a disparity in the level of experience that the teams have. Too frequently I was on teams that were either far weaker or far stronger than the opponents. Occasionally the matches would be closer than initially anticipated, but generally the matches ended in a clean sweep. It’s understandable that it’s flawed at this point, but I do hope they clean it up ready for us on release.
The other point that they should really take on board is the way the nodes spawn during matches. I was averaging between nine and eleven points per match, and every single time the spawns were the same. I can understand this to a degree, because it means that everything is a level playing field and players will, after the first point, be able to create game plans based on what is going to come up. The downside to this is that it heavily disadvantages new players. As I said earlier, knowing the battlefield is half the match, and if you’re seeing it repeatedly, you will know where to stand and when to stand there. You’ll get the majority of nodes as long as you’re able to stay alive, because you’ll know where and when to be. They have a number of different patterns to play with, some of which are incredibly complex and fun to play, so it’d be good to see the variety in a full match.
The Final Word
I’m really excited for the full release of Laser League. It’s already tremendous fun, and with a couple of refined features it’ll only grow in quality. Roll7 have done some fantastic work to this point and I can only see it getting better. The only downside for me now is waiting for the game to officially release!