During the Ubisoft press conference, a developer announced that their upcoming game Roller Champions is running an alpha from June 10th-14th. As someone who loves free things, I picked up the alpha and tried it out for myself. So, here are my thoughts on Roller Champions.
Roller Champions is a 3v3 sports multiplayer game about two teams trying to control a ball while they roll around a rink. After doing a full lap, the option to throw the ball into a ring is available, and doing that will gain points. The more times you go around the rink with the ball, the more points you will get when scoring; but the second the ball is touched by the opposing team, the laps reset. Each game goes to whoever gets five points first or whoever has the most point by the end of seven minutes.
The best way to think of this game is Rocket League but Roller Derby. This game is going for that crowd by offering an upbeat sports game that is different from the basic sports titles. Whether or not this game will replace Rocket League is up to you, but from what I have played I can say that this game is one of the most fun multiplayer games I have played in a while, and I think this game will replace Rocket League for me when it comes out.
At the very base of the game is its concept, which works really well. Hold a ball and complete laps so you can score the ball and get points, but the second the other team takes the ball the laps reset. In this game, you can hit others and knock them down, dodge hits if you have the ball, pass the ball, a motion called pumping which involves crouching while going down hill to gain speed, and throwing the ball. This means the offensive team is trying to dodge and pass while the defensive team is trying to hit. I got friends to play with me, and it didn’t take long for us to come up with our own strategies and terminology. If we had the ball, the other two teammates would bodyguard by hitting the opponents out of the way. If the opponent had the ball, one or two of us would go the other way to meet them in the middle. We came up with effective ways of pumping, pump-dodging, finding and targeting the 3000s (players at max rank), back-passing, and more; all of which we figured out within four days. The risk-reward of doing multiple laps and the different strategies available shows a game with massive potential.
You can’t have a good sports game without good controls, and I loved the controls for this game. I don’t know how well the controls are with a keyboard and mouse because I only used controller, but the controls are streamlined well. It took me no time at all to pick up the controls and start to master them, which I think is the one thing I like with this game over Rocket League. It may not be the controls per se, but I feel I have much more control over my character and over the situation than in Rocket League. Mastering the techniques in this game prove much more manageable than, for example, learning aerial with cars, and as a result I felt much better playing this game.
During my time with this game, I did run into a few issues. This game was in alpha, so I am sure these issues will be fixed by release, but there were a few gameplay and technical issues worth noting. For starters, I found the timing between hitting and dodging to be weird, and I would have to dodge early because of some weird syncing issue. Since the option to customize your character wasn’t available, there were default players. Unfortunately, the default player’s clothing didn’t distinguish what team they were on that well, which meant identifying players went to the color of the skate’s trail and their name tag, which both prove unreliable to use as a way to identify teammates. Finally, the bots in this game are terrible, as for they all do the same exact thing. Hopefully these issues will be a thing of the past, but they did plague my time with the game.
In conclusion, I cannot wait for Roller Champions. It is the most fun I have had with a sports multiplayer game in a long time, and I would even go as far as saying it is a better fit for me than Rocket League. The premise of the game works well, the controls feel solid, and it feels like a game I can truly master. 2020 is proving to be an exciting year for releases, and Roller Champions stands right along side those other releases for me.