Laser League Review: Future Gladiators

The idea that the future holds a resurgence of gladiatorial combat is a popular idea for video games. The premise of characters fighting in an arena to the death works well with games where the player is supposed to use a playstyle that captures their imagination. Laser League has just released and hopes to put its own spin on the future combat sports genre.

Utilizing a flashy presentation and quick and accessible gameplay, Laser League shows a lot of promise. The concept is simple. Two teams fight for control of nodes that create walls of lasers to destroy the other team. Players can select to join a game of 2V2 or 3V3. Into the mix are powerups that will do things to change the course of the game. They can change the team controlling the nodes, reset the nodes completely, or even pause the movement of the nodes to trap players. Each player has the choice of a couple of different powers to wield in addition to the laser walls. These powers can be unleashed after a bar under the player has filled up. All of this mayhem is contained in a rectangular field. The arena is surrounded by walls that will allow players to warp to the other side if touched.

There is a surprisingly good player progression system in play between matches. Players begin with the most basic of gear at the beginning. As they play more and more games , the player earns XP and levels and unlocks more player customization. The customization in Laser League is merely cosmetic, so veteran players don’t have any advantage from gear. Higher level players just look cooler. This makes newer players look at them in awe and want to look that cool. It’s a good system that rewards players but remains newbie friendly.

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The team that wipes the other team out completely earns a point. First team to three wins, and the first team to win a best of three games, wins the overall trophy. Each match starts out slowly, but quickly will build up to a frantic pace where players must dodge not only the laser walls on the field (which may rapidly change color when the powerups start appearing more and more rapidly) but the enemy players who can slam characters into their laser walls in a blink of an eye.

Laser League is played mainly online. The matchmaking was silky smooth, though. It only took a minute or two to find games. These kinds of games live and die on how fast players can find games. There was no problem for me finding other players.

The presentation of Laser League is phenomenal. Everything is dripping with a neon, 1980’s inspired flair that is pleasant to look at. Each game presents itself as an actual sporting event where both teams are separate groups with actual names and cities. There is an audience and even a bit of tv like presentation between matches, with the winning team waving or otherwise showing off to the audience. This leads to players feeling like they are part of a team, instead of just a group of random people from the internet. It wouldn’t surprise me if Laser League tried to become an actual e-sport.

The actual gameplay is extremely responsive. I never felt as though something that knocked me out was from fumbling with controls or any kind of technical issue, but everything was my fault and I just had to learn from it and get better. It’s expected of games that are as simple as this one is that controls and technical issues are implemented as well as possible, and Laser League has been honed to a razor’s edge performance-wise.

I reviewed Laser League on Playstation 4, where it retails for $14.99. This is an excellent price for the content. I would have thought that it should have retailed for $5-$10 more than that.

Overall

Laser League is a blast to play. It’s simple but deep mechanics allows for players with little time to pick up and play, but players who have the time to devote to the game will find it even more rewarding. The neon colors splashed over the screen allows for action that is just as interesting visually as it is from a gameplay standpoint. The community is large enough for games to be easy to find and are well balanced. From the beginning of the experience to the end, there is plenty to like here. It would be a shame if Laser League was unable to find an audience, I would love to be playing for years to come.

 

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THE GOOD
Amazing Visuals
Fast and Responsive Gameplay
Great Value
THE BAD
Will It Catch on With a Wide Audience?
9
Superb

Review Summary

Overall Laser League is a blast to play. It’s simple but deep mechanics allows for players with little time to pick up and play, but players who have the time to devote to the game will find it even more rewarding. The neon colors splashed over the screen allows for action that is just as interesting visually as it is from a gameplay standpoint. The community is large enough for games to be easy to find and are well balanced. From the beginning of the experience to the end, there is plenty to like here. It would be a shame if Laser League was unable to find an audience, I would love to be playing for years to come.

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Jonathan Thornburg

Jonathan Thornburg has been playing games for almost 25 years, and in that time has developed a love for the Gaming Industry. He plays on the PS4 mostly, but can be found indulging in games from the past 25 years as well. He streams on twitch.tv/leftstick and uploads to youtube.com/c/leftstickgaming.

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