Roller Champions full review
At E3 2019 Ubisoft announced a bunch of new games including what it describes as the next “must-play” competitive online experience. Here’s our Roller Champions preview from the world’s largest gaming show.
The firm is essentially hoping that Roller Champions will be the next Rocket League. This is a free to play online game that you can jump into easily and play matches, with or without friends.
Roller Champions is loosely based on the sport of roller derby which is popular in the US. It sees skaters, er, skate in an anti-clockwise direction round a track. Instead of one person trying to overtake others, the game involves scoring points by throwing a ball through a hoop. It reminds us of the Lucio Ball mode from Overwatch and, of course, Rocket League.
Like both of those games, Roller Champions is 3v3, so isn’t overwhelming in terms of the amount of people in a match. But this does put a fair amount of pressure on your performance.
As we’ve said, you need to score a goal by getting a ball through a hoop. This will only light up and count once you’ve done at least one lap round the track with said ball. Sounds easy enough but the other team will be trying to get it back from you since there is only one ball in play.
The controls are mostly simple so you can accelerate, jump and tackle (or dodge if you have the ball) easy enough, but there are also more complex elements.
The ball can be passed between your team and although it’s just a tap of a button, we found it a bit confusing that your mate needs to call for the ball before you’re able to pass it.
Then there’s pump which sees your character crouch to get extra speed. You do this by skating up the walls of the track but we found it very hard to time right during our hands-on session.
We said at least one lap is required to light up the goal and that’s because you can do additional laps if you like and you’ll score more points - one for each lap. However, it’s quite a feat just to do one and score.
They were not scored in much style or elegance, more like standing still once the goal was available.
Perhaps it’s because we were all new to the game or there genuinely is a steep learning curve, but we found Roller Champions didn’t have much flow. When it did, the gameplay was fun, but the action was rarely as advertised in trailers.
The track is actually quite long and takes a while to get round, despite the claim of characters travelling at up to 100mph. This along with the passing issue means that typically one person has the ball and tries to do all the work solo while the other team members can merely watch.
Tackling is fairly easy - you can skate the wrong way around the track if you like - so possession of the ball changed frequently. So some matches of around 10 minutes only had a goal or two when we were expecting loads like Rocket League.
Roller Champions will be released 'early 2020' on PC.
Perhaps we just need more time with the game, but Roller Champions lacks the instant ease and flow we expect for this type of game.
It’s fun when it works, but we didn’t find that to be very often at all. Generally things end up with one person holding the ball and everyone else in the game following them around.
A system where it’s easier to score would make more sense here, perhaps with two goals and you only need to skate a quarter of the track to earn a point.