Ubisoft brings to us Roller Champions, a roller derby crossed with basketball mixed into a bone-crushing, high-speed, rip-roaring race to score points on a goal. The game takes place in 2029 and this high-tech roller-derby environment can be a speed-demon challenge to complete more laps in order to score more points. The rules of the game are pretty simple. Each match is a three versus three battle and you must possess the ball for one lap before the goal opens up for scoring opportunities. If you complete one lap and score, then you receive one point. The more laps you complete, the more points you can get on your goal. If you score five points, you win. Pretty easy right?
Well, in the high-speed nature of this derby there is a bone-crushing impact at any turn. I had the pleasure of engaging myself in multiple hours of demo gameplay to test my skills against others in the quest to dominate on skates. I was extremely excited to play a game that was fresh, new and unlike the standard power sports. Here are my first impressions of demo gameplay from Roller Champions.
Plain and simple, Roller Champions is new. When looking at this game being presented at E3, I didn’t quite know what to expect. This is a brand new and original experience with bright colors, good music, and an arcade feel of speed and energy. The player characters have a variety of looks based on their skates, pads, hairstyles and accessories. When booting up the demo, the initial presentation begins with a tutorial of how the game is played. Once complete, it is derby time, and you are dropped right into the middle of it. Expect to get hit from any side, angle and at any time. The sound effects are good as you can hear your skates clacking on the derby track, and the demo music tracks keep it popping throughout.
It’s not clear how deep this goes — as this is only demo gameplay — but numerous strategic opportunities exist right now. You have the freedom to skate on any area of the derby arena. You can grab the ball and ride the high side, or speed up the walls to gain an advantage. You can rocket yourself through the middle of the track and duck, dodge and maneuver your way lap after lap. I believe multiple strategic opportunities exist in this game. They are more apparent in team play when you pair up with friends and create some tag-team style, bash-brother hits.
Roller Champion rules are simple, score five points and your team wins. Therefore, options come into play regarding when to shoot your shot and go for steady points, or grind it out and take your chances by skating another lap and hoping to score more points — similar to NASCAR and deciding whether to take a pit stop or continue on lap after lap.
Roller Champions is an arcade-like experience and that is what I love about it. However, there does need to be some minor tweaks in the camera view category because I found myself struggling to focus on opposing players at times. This would inevitably affect my ability to deliver a solid hit. When skating the top of the arena and rushing down to the track, the camera was a bit glitchy when trying to time out my shot at the goal. Simply put, some better control of the camera will help out with things like timing out hits on opposing players and preparing your throw to score points. Not to say this camera is terrible, but I think an option to tweak it or possibly add a new camera view in a future patch would be beneficial.
In the full version of the game, I’m looking forward to the depth of customization and what flexibility you will have with your character. The types of gear, wheels, pads, hairstyles and more will create some interesting character customization to keep your player fresh and ready to dominate on skates. This includes the customization of your fans as well and the way they follow you through your journey in the derby.