Roller Champions is a 3v3 roller derby game with a futuristic flair. You can play a demo right now.
Roller Champions takes place in a future in which, somehow, roller derby has become the dominant sport. You play in teams of three, trying to score five points to end the game. In roller derby, and thusly Roller Champions, if you keep possession of the ball for a lap you score one point, but if you do a second lap, you score two. That keeps going up to five laps. You can tackle your opponents to take possession of the ball as well.
As I was playing Roller Champions at E3 yesterday, I had a breakthrough. Our team had been pretty unlucky, despite my excellent roller derby names—Maya Strangleyou, then later, Kawaii Leonard. In my team’s first game, we suffered a humiliating loss. Our opposing team was able to win a game with a single score. If you take possession of the ball and keep it for five laps and then score, you’ll net your team a game-ending five point score. We just hadn’t been able to wrest the ball away from them.
In our next game, I couldn’t keep possession of the ball long enough to make it through a single lap. In frustration, I tackled a player on the opposite team just as they were going by, more vindictively than anything else. This let my teammate with the ball completed their lap. After that point, I noticed our team starting to play with some real strategy. We all huddled around whoever had possession of the ball, knocking people out of the way. Although we still ultimately lost, barreling through the other team with a satisfying smack fed my competitive drive. It also made me feel useful even when I didn’t have the ball. Even if I wasn’t open enough for a pass, I could still knock people over as they went by.
A lot of visual feedback keeps Roller Champions fun even when you haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. If you have possession of the ball, the walls of the ring light up to show you how much of a lap you’ve been through. If you’re doing multiple laps, more bands of light appear to show how many points you could potentially score. When you press the button that lets you call for a pass, an icon on the screen indicates that you’re saying that you’re open. When you’re passing the ball, that same icon shows up next to open players. I always felt like I had complete knowledge of what my team was doing and where they were, meaning I always felt like I had a chance to turn our luck around. Although I was told I was playing an early build that still had bugs, I was impressed by the amount of polish.
You can check out the Roller Champions demo right now on Uplay until June 14th. Part of me hopes that Roller Champions can catch on in the way Rocket League has. Both are reimaginings of offbeat sports, though Roller Champions hews more closely to its inspiration than soccer-with-cars does. If it does, look out for Kawaii Leonard. She’ll knock your ass out.