Don’t blink for a second or you’ll be destroyed by a beautiful laser light show – Laser League Impressions.
Laser League debuted at E3 this year, sadly I wasn’t able to check it out there, but last Friday I was fortunate enough to play an early sneak peek of Roll 7 & 505 Games masterpiece. Laser League is fast action arena game that pits teams against each other using gorgeously designed laser grids to destroy each other. In short, it was an absolute thrill of laser destruction. Picture, Tron meets Bomberman.
Laser League has teams of up to 4-players placed in a Pac-Man physics arena that have nodes appear at certain time intervals and distinct patterns based on the chosen arena (Pac-Man physics meaning if you run through the left wall you end up on the right). These nodes turn into a laser wall that matches the color of the player that touches the node. This wall is now instant death for any opposing players who touch it. Though the node patterns stay consistent through the entirety of a match, the order they are touched is never guaranteed, so it tends to always feel like a different level each round. On top of the wide array of chaos from arena selection and node activation, each player can choose to play one of six classes, each with their own special ability and modification to customize to your playstyle. Some classes are able to eliminate opponents with their abilities, others allow them to steal nodes from the opposing team, and another lets players be invulnerable and run through laser walls. The wide variety of combinations of player styles, team comps, and arenas add a tremendous amount of depth to the game.
Control-wise, the game is incredibly simple; just movement and ability activation. You could play the game one-handed on the keyboard with WASD and the Spacebar. However, movement in specific angles is absolutely crucial, and I believe the game is best played using an Xbox Controller (I remember one of the devs saying it was designed with that in mind, but I think a PlayStation Controller would also work). With an Xbox controller, you essentially use the thumbstick and right trigger. You run around activating nodes and use your abilities to try to trip up and eliminate the opposing players. It is incredibly simple but massively fun.
I played in a few 3v3 matches, and did not do very well. I was trying to take screenshots as I played, which was a crucial mistake, as a microsecond is all the time it takes to be destroyed. One false move, one miscalculation, you’re dust. Your teammates can revive you by running to an icon that appears where you died, but even that is no easy task. From what I can tell, a great strategy is to guard a fallen player with an attack-oriented class, to eliminate anyone noble enough to try and revive their comrade. Laser League is brutal, unforgiving, and incredibly addicting for these reasons.
I was able to pull off some epic plays of my own using the Thief Class and the Snipe X Class. Using the Thief Class, I would wait for an opponent to activate a node, then immediately steal it to disintegrate the player. I did this a couple of times, and it is extremely satisfying. Learning the node patterns is crucial to pull this off consistently. My favorite, and by far to most complicated class, is the Snipe X Class. The Snipe X Class drops an anchor point which your player teleports back to in a straight line. Any opposing player caught in that line as the player teleports back is ashed. Another great use of this skill is to teleport to safety in otherwise assured death situations. My strategy was to leave a node near a fallen player and ensure the line would cross the fallen player’s icon in order to deter or destroy any would be noble teammates.
Even though it’s still early in the game’s development, the elements of a great ESL game are there. It’s easy to pick up, it’s visually stunning, and it’s a lot of fun to play even when you’re constantly dying. On our Discord channel, we were cracking up as players made errors or someone was baited into a death trap, then we would switch to righteously cheering if someone performed a crazy feat of wall dodging and player juking to revive a teammate or win a match. It’s almost as fun watching as it is playing. There are also a number of customization options that players can unlock, like emotes, icons, and I believe uniforms. My only disappointment was that all the icons available seem to be of the devs’ faces. Nothing against these brilliant makers of the game, but to me personally, it’s like wearing another person’s jersey.
Laser League is fun, fast, and thrilling. It is a gorgeously rendered game, that allows players to test their reflexes and strategic minds in order to decimate their opponents using gorgeous light. It’s one of those games players of any skill level can enjoy, whether a quick pick-up game or potential professional gaming career. If you would like an opportunity to see what it’s all about, there is a closed beta happening this weekend December 15th-17th. I’ve attached a link for you to sign up below.