Laser League has been positioned as an alternative to Rocket League. Though I can see how this comparison has been reached — two teams go head-to-head in a small arena with a neon-infused aesthetic — Laser League is quite unlike any multiplayer game currently available. Looking like something Jeff Bridges would've encountered in Tron, Roll7's futuristic sports game is nearly as addictive as car soccer, though a whole lot more inventive.
Laser League pitches two teams of two or three players against one another in a fight to the death. In these circumstances, death is brought about by coming into contact with fatal lasers. Each team is tasked with activating the various nodes that pop up in the arena, with a laser wall activating in their team's color. You can pass through the laser walls in your color, though if you touch a laser wall activated by your rival team, you'll be eliminated. Once all players on the rival team have been eliminated, you win the round.
Laser League Review: Class-Based Chaos
If it sounds simple that's because it is, though there are surprising complexities to be found in Laser League. This is a class-based game, with you able to select from Smash, Ghost, Thief, Shock, Snipe, and Blade. Each class boasts unique characteristics that can help change the tide of the battle, from Blade's lethal sword slash through to Thief's laser-stealing ability. These classes can then be altered by way of modifiers, that allow their abilities to be altered to suit the player.
Abilities are activated by a press of the bumper when they're fully charged, while movement is limited to the left stick. With only two buttons required to compete, Laser League is incredibly accessible for newcomers, though there's plenty for those who want a deeper experience to sink their teeth into. Classes are split between offensive and defensive abilities, with each having their positives and negatives. I favored Blade, who hunts down rivals with their oversized laser sword, though Shock's electrical stun ability would routinely render me useless. Good team composition is a must, and as you rise up the ranks you'll run into players who know to counter what you throw at them.
Each match is split between three games, with the first team to be victorious in three rounds winning that game. After each game, the losing team gets to make "substitutions," altering their class and modifiers to suit the situation. This means that if you find yourself being undone by a particular class, you can choose a class to counter your opponents while they're stuck with the same composition. It's a great way to give the losing team an advantage without handing them the victory, and I frequently found myself embroiled in nail-bitingly close matches as a result.
Laser League Review: No Loot Boxes Here
Laser League features a traditional progression system, with players earning new customization options, emojis, and player portraits as they level up. There's no loot box-esque randomization here, with you receiving the same as everyone else when you level up. However, each class does feature its own leveling system, with you able to unlock new items when you complete certain class-specific challenges. These range from eliminating a certain number of enemies, to preventing your opponents from reviving one another.
There are only two modes currently available; doubles and a "standard" three-vs-three mode. The standard mode fills the arena with lasers to the point where it can become overly chaotic, with you having to keep an eye on your positioning, your teammates, and your rivals simultaneously. A lot of my deaths in this mode have been as a result of being overwhelmed rather than directly a result of my opponents' teamwork. Doubles is much more manageable, allowing for more breathing room and time to orchestrate attacks. If you can't find a friend or stranger to play with, then an AI bot will take their place, with them proving to be quite adept at holding their own on the field.
There are a limited number of arenas, with each one featuring its own unique arrangement of lasers. As each round progresses, the number of lasers that can be activated increases. If a round stretches beyond the 3-minute mark, expect to be bombarded by nigh-on insurmountable laser walls. Power-ups also routinely pop up on the arena floor, allowing you to sap away your opponents' ability meter, switch lasers, or stun your rivals for a limited period of time.
Laser League Review: The Final Verdict
Overwatch has been my go-to multiplayer game since its launch and rarely has a game pushed it out of my evening rotation. However, Laser League provides something wholly different, and like all great multiplayer games, I routinely struggle to pull myself away from it. Laser League presents a simple but original idea done incredibly well, and I hope that its player base stays strong. With its low price point and accessible gameplay, if you're into your competitive games, then you should give this one a shot.
Copy purchased by GameRevolution and reviewed on PC.