The esports scene is booming these days, with pro gamers worldwide training hard to shine during solo and team-based tournaments for many different games. Not only can folks compete to be the very best in fighters like Tekken and Mortal Kombat, but also sports, shooters and multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs). The latter of which is the focus of casual management simulation Esports Life Tycoon, as you attempt to build your own MOBA team and lead them to glory. Will it be a championship winning formula from developers Raiser Games, or is it as disappointing as getting knocked out in the first round?
To quote an in-game motto: ‘Success is the culmination of controlling failure’. Sadly, the failures haven’t been handled well in Esports Life Tycoon and the technical aspects ensure the experience isn’t a good one. And that’s a shame because it shows a slight promise of being a decent sim to chill out with otherwise.
Esports Life Tycoon is a spin-off from another sim, YouTubers Life, although this instalment tasks you with forming a team to compete in a MOBA league system. The MOBA in question is League of Heroes, a made-up game clearly inspired by League of Legends (LoL). Starting in the Bronze League, you’ll need to climb through the divisions in order to reach the end-goal of winning the Pro League championship. It’s a good enough premise and the fact they’ve secured a handful of professional esports team licenses for the likes of Heretics, Fnatic, and PSG, really adds authenticity – even if only a little sprinkle of it.
Surprisingly, creating your CEO character, editing the founding members of your roster, and the overall aesthetic for the esports team is one of the most enjoyable aspects. For character creation there’s a good balance in regards to the options, with simplicity at the forefront for people who might not care about the finer details and an advanced option available if you wish to spend time adjusting things such as eyebrows or chin width. There’s also a decent selection of choices when it comes to designing the team badge and kit, to ensure you can really put your stamp on proceedings.
A huge chunk of Esports Life Tycoon focuses on managing the team’s daily routines in-between matches at a shared home. This is done via bringing up a radial menu and sending your starting squad to specific areas of the house. Analysing the opponents is crucial to figuring out how much training and tactical work is needed to tip the match in your favour. Then you’ll spend time in rooms dedicated to the aforementioned aspects, with a hype room also available for increasing the income and the amount of fans you have. Should the group require it, an area to boost morale is present, but if you’re leading a bunch of winners, it’s not necessary.
There are only so many hours in a day, hence you must find the optimal use of it in order to make sure your team is well-prepared. Initially, the balancing act and unfamiliarity with the setup leads to the exercise being rather fun; especially when you’ve put such an emphasis on training that the next match is expected to be a walk in the park. The shine wears off pretty swiftly though, and while it doesn’t quite become a chore, the repetition means boredom creeps in. Of course, random injuries or squabbles between teammates can occur to hamper preparations, but even then it barely creates excitement once you realise the possible solutions. That’s alright however, because the matches themselves will inject more life into the experience, right?
Not quite. You can choose to resolve the match automatically with your team playing the roles they’ve been placed in. Alternatively, it can be simulated to allow the tweaking of the stats focus for Top, Jungle, Mid, Bot Support and Bot – these will be recognisable position types to LoL regulars. Once heroes have been chosen for the teams, all you’re really doing is moving one of the on-screen sliders to alter the attacking or defensive success chance. There’s an underwhelming feeling about the effect, or lack of, you’re having on the action, thus auto-resolve becomes the go-to option.
Through performing well and winning, via either method, you’ll rise up the tables; earning cash, a bigger following and the chance for players to level up. Cash is king here as you need it for upgrading the efficiency of the activity rooms and improving the accommodation itself. That ultimately makes the preparation go by even smoother however, which despite providing a chilled atmosphere, isn’t very engaging.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is that of slowly, but surely, building a full squad of players and watching them flourish. There’s a whole transfer market to delve into, with free agents and contracted players up for grabs if the money is right. You learn that it’s best to buy young because these pro gamers start looking towards retirement at 25. You’ll see the youngsters level up faster as well, enabling you to increase their stats by one each time. It’s fairly satisfying to grow from an overall team rating of low 60s into a more than capable mid to late 70s group.
While it’s not great on the whole, Esports Life Tycoon is a decent, very casual sim that could keep you entertained for a couple of hours before it starts to bore. Sadly, there are numerous issues and irritations which spoil what it has going for it. The most worrying problem is the amount of times the game has crashed, usually during the off-season negotiations, and the most recent auto-save has taken me back a few matches. And then there’s the UI, which is terribly sluggish and feels completely unintuitive – not ideal when you’re constantly in and out of the various menus.
Last, but not least is the only other mode outside of the main campaign, Challenges. Naturally, these throw you into different scenarios such as keeping a team afloat while they’re all injured and you’ve got no substitutes. I actually would’ve enjoyed the Challenges, if it wasn’t for the weird bug that suddenly prevented the activity menu or the player menu from being brought up, rendering the entire thing useless. Oddly, that issue didn’t arise in the campaign.
All in all, Esports Life Tycoon gets off to a flyer on Xbox thanks to a great array of customisation options, ensuring the branding and players are how you want them to be. In fairness, the gameplay is nice and relaxing too, but just becomes repetitive due to the everyday life and matches being so samey. The wheels come off when the crashes, sluggish inputs and awkward menus start to grind on you. And don’t even bother with the buggy Challenges, for they’ll almost instantly disappoint.
To be honest, unless you hear about a patch, Esports Life Tycoon isn’t worth spending your money on. If the problems are fixed, there’s an alright simulation here that would be tempting in a sale.