Title: Laser League
Publisher: 505 Games
Genre: Sports game
Official Site: https://www.huntshowdown.com/
Even though it’s still in early access, Laser League has managed to do what basically every multiplayer game in the current market aspires to: create a true e-sports experience.
In truth, Laser League is a pretty simple game, featuring concepts that have already been implemented or at least explored. The main object, like most other competitive multiplayer games, is to outlast the opposing team. To do so, players are given the choice between six different characters, each with varying traits.
Characters have unique abilities that either buff them or negatively affects their opponent. Personally, I preferred Shock, which allowed me to incapacitate enemies for a duration of time. Like a game of rock, paper, scissors, some characters play well against others, resulting in strategy picks in between rounds. Again, nothing entirely groundbreaking, but the roster and power-ups add a layer of variety, depth, and strategy.
The thing that sets Laser League apart is that the main the focus is the battlefield, rather than the players. While the goal is still to be the last team standing, achieving that goal is mostly done through activating and avoiding laser grids that pop up throughout the arenas.
Grids tend to appear in patterns. If the orange side has two straight line lasers, the blue team will have them in the exact same spot. Each team wants to avoid the other colors laser, or else they get downed. The only way to get back up is through a power-up or to be revived by a teammate. This gets considerably difficult as each match goes on, as more lasers and new styles are added. Some lasers will be small, but focus on field depth or speed. Others will be large, but constrained to a small area of the field. The field also contains useful powerups, ones that can turn the tide in one teams favor like reverse. Just like with the characters, the field contains a lot of variety, managing to do so without overcomplicating things.
My favorite feature was another simple one. Instead of confining each team to their specific side, each are given the ability to walk through any of the four sides of the rectangular-shaped grid. This action will teleport that character to the parallel side (i.e Pacman). More often than not, teleporting from top to bottom or left to right is the only way to avoid a certain laser until it resets. It also requires players to keep an eye in the back of their head, since there are multiple angles for an enemy to come from.
Between keeping an eye out for enemies, power-ups, and of course the laser grids, it is easy to see how the game could expand to an eSport. Play long enough and great players will be able to learn patterns, know when to rush the opposing side, and know which character fits each situation. The 2v2 and 3v3 would also be a refreshing variant as well, since most eSports are 6v6 FPS or MOBAs.
The only hang up as of now is that there aren’t too many people playing. Most games are filled by bots, so it ends up only being two humans out of the six players. Personalization is also a bit limited at the moment. Based on the small time I spent in the customization screen though, there are going to be a lot of different aesthetic options to choose from once the game is fully released though.
Verdict: While it is still in the early stages, Laser League has the potential to be a true eSport. Simplicity, strategy, and variety open the door for amateurs and hardcore gamers alike to enjoy this unique experience. Once the ball gets rolling, I can see Laser League growing to become a fan favorite.
Andrew has been in love with video game ever since his brother was forced by their parents to let him watch him and his friends play games like Goldeneye and Super Mario 64.