In the short time I’ve spent with the Roller Champions closed beta, the fundamental takeaway is that Ubisoft just want you to have fun. Colourful arenas and simple gameplay help to make a fast-paced team game well worth investing time into, and it doesn’t bog you down with loads of mechanics, which helps to provide an addictive multiplayer with the right tools for an action-packed experience. The foundations have been built to give players a competitive sports title that has the potential to reach the level of player-base seen in games like Rocket League.
In Roller Champions, players take part in a 3v3 match where you must throw a ball through a hoop. Whilst it seems straightforward, there are ways in which your one goal can be hampered by opposing forces, namely a short and stiff elbow to the face. As you skate around the track, the other team can knock you over and pick up the ball, leaving all your hard work in the dust. In order to be allowed to make your shot, you have to race around the circuit and pass through four checkpoints until the option to shoot becomes available, providing you with one point.
If you’re feeling confident, you can pass through the checkpoints again to score three points, or if you’re a total daredevil, you can do another lap to score a whopping five points. You can pass to teammates if it looks as though you’re going to get floored, or dodge past the opposition if you’re feeling dangerous, but if you do end up losing the ball, all that hard work resets and you have to start making the checkpoints all over again. To win a match, your team must score five points.
Taking advantage of dips in the track can build up speed, where you crouch down to gain momentum and pick up vital velocity to dash past opponents. You can also press the left shoulder button when passing a teammate to give you a speed boost, helping you to break away after a fumble of the ball. There are no rules to say you have to keep going round in one direction, so if the ball falls behind you or you want to take out the opposition, you can go back around and sack them before they score. Shooting is relatively easy to do as well as long as you have a clear shot.
I’ve already mentioned Rocket League, and that’s because Roller Champions feels very much the same. You can press a button to send the camera straight to the ball, helping to locate where it is and which direction you’ll need to go to recover it. Scoring a goal offers a similar feeling to Psyonix’s racer as well, even down to the horn blaring as the ball passes the goal line. These similarities aren’t a bad thing, however. Ubisoft have got a pick-up-and-play title that has great potential to become huge, and thanks to a comforting familiarity, it’s an enjoyable ride every step of the way.
With it being a closed beta, there were only a handful of tracks available, but they all vary in style. One of them was covered in neon pink and blue, another more stripped back, but they’re all pretty on the eye. The Acapulco Skate Park is another element to Roller Champions that allows you to take part in mini-games with others to earn fans and rewards. It’s filled with various jumps and ramps, giving you a nice escape from the actual matches themselves. It’s also a colourful and summery area that’s a great place to touch up on your skills as a skater.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on Roller Champions as it nears launch. I had plenty of fun in both matches and the skate park. It’s easy to play with nuanced moves that can be learned the more you play, and a basic premise for scoring with layers to keep every match unique. It’s colourful, enjoyable, easy enough to play, giving you plenty of customisation options for your skaters. I’m looking forward to grabbing my friends and jumping into matchmaking when it becomes available to everyone.