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E3 2019 Preview: Roller Champions Is A Hit In The Making With A Learning Curve

Roller Champions is an exciting 3-on-3 roller derby game with beautiful visuals and great music to get you speeding along to score points. The game is available now to try in its pre-Alpha stage, and everyone can head on over to Ubisoft to sign up now to play until June 14.

We here at TheGamer have spent about five hours of playtime since the demo launched and have some first impressions on everything from the gameplay in its current state to potential long-term opportunities we might see. If you have some time to pick it up, be patient, since the game seems to freeze and have a server hiccup every few matches, which is to be expected in a pre-Alpha version of the game.

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How Does Roller Champions Play

Roller Champions is fast-paced and rewards good use of mechanics and teamwork. Simply put, each match lasts for a total of seven minutes and the highest scoring team wins. A tie allows for an additional three minutes of overtime, but after ten minutes the match is over regardless.

Scoring points requires a player to first take possession of the ball and then make a full lap of the track, which is no easy task as the opposing three players will be speeding towards you or catching up to bodycheck you down to the ground and steal the ball. If a player makes it around with possession of the ball they can aim for a goal and attempt to score a point. If a team makes it to five points before the time runs out, they win automatically. Where it gets truly exciting is that with greater risk comes a greater reward.

With Greater Risk Comes Greater Reward

Players can hold onto the ball after the first lap and keep on going, moving carefully to avoid the bodychecks of the opposing team. If they make it five laps and then score with the ball, they are awarded an automatic five points and win the game. This was how the first game went down for the opposing team, and it was both humbling and embarrassing to witness as the losing side, with the match over in less than a minute.

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Right now, matches tend to feel a bit one sided to whoever has the most experience with the controls. Movement is simple at first but ramps up in technique rather quickly. Players can only move so fast in a straight line but by making use of the side ramps around and in the center of the track with proper leg movements (left shoulder button) they are granted the necessary speed boosts to catch the opposing player with the ball.

Since there are six players in a small space and you are free to go around the track in any direction, it can feel chaotic, and players need to master the free moving 3rd person camera angle with the right control stick.

Still, once a player gets the hang of picking up speed and bodychecking an opponent, things begin to click. Within a few games, I felt I was in the know, or perhaps it was simply because I was facing too many players on their first game. When a match begins, you are informed of how many “fans” a player has, which indicates how many games they have played, at least in this pre-Alpha demo. With my 300 fans against an opponent with 1 fan, I was aware that this was their first game and that they would be struggling to even move properly.

Unlocking Things In The Future

Right now, playing a match seems to award about five fans each time, though we are not sure what those fans are for. Our best guess based on the “News” on the menu selection of the game is that a minimum number of fans are needed to unlock certain maps, which seem to be the same type of track in a different backdrop and with different music.

With that said, we played a number of matches where we did manage to get partnered with both teammates and opponents of relatively equal skill, based on the number of fans they had, and the experience was great. This only became better once everyone started using the “Pass” button. When you do not have possession of the ball, the button merely “Calls out” that you are open for a pass, and when you are in possession of the ball, you can clearly see who is open to receive.

Even in the pre-alpha stage of the demo, the clear communication between players without any sort of voice chat in the middle of hectic sprints is a fantastic sign. If they can always maintain that feeling of having the information you need, they’ll have sold us for sure.

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The Future Of Roller Champions

Overall the game is fast paced and full of action. The short match times are appreciated as well, as this feels like one that a player can jump into without needing to commit hours to a grind. Similar to Dauntless, a player can pick it up, play a round, and be done in less than fifteen minutes if they are short for time.

The future of the game looks good before it officially even begins. The menu has an option for “Customization” which cannot be selected in the demo, but like so many of these free-to-play multiplayer games today, we can be sure that the primary monetization of the game is going to be through the purchase of cosmetic items.

In addition, the game is perfect for modes apart from the main competition seen in the demo. Limited Time Modes with Double Speed? Massive Jumps? Bodychecks that send an opponent flying to the end of the track? All of these could make for great fun!

Right now, the best way to describe the game is to point to Rocket League, which requires both skill and proper teamwork to win at the highest ranks but is also always offering its players a bevy of outstanding cosmetic items tied into events. Would we like to see Ghostbusters or Knight Rider-themed skins in Roller Champions? Absolutely!

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