Why couldn’t this be a real sport? This was the question at the very forefront of our thoughts during our time with Roller Champions, as an actual real life sport like this could be absolutely amazing. Roller skating/blading meets basketball in a skatepark? Sign us up today!
Roller Champions is the latest free to play offering from the team at Ubisoft Montreal. It mixes Quidditch from Harry Potter, throws it into a Rocket League-like setting and finishes it with the flavourings that Destruction All-Stars came with over on the PlayStation 5. Does this mix make up the next big team game? Let’s see.
In Roller Champions you play in teams of three. Set in closed skatepark-like arenas, you play against an opposing team of three where the aim of the game is to earn five points for your team within the seven minute time limit, all before your opponents do so first.
To score, you or a teammate must first get the ball in your possession and skate an uninterrupted lap of the arena. The other team will try and interrupt your lap and steal the ball to attempt gaining a point themselves. Points are given out as you make a lap (one point) you must throw the ball through a nearby Quidditch-like hoop in the arena to score. Circling round for more laps will net more points for your team upon successful completion.
Once you or your opponents bag five points, the match ends and a winner is declared. Alternatively, if five points have not been earned by either team and time runs out, those with the most points take the win. It’s all a bit frantic and chaotic.
To assist in your scoring or stealing there are a few moves at your disposal as you skate around the arena. There are tackle moves to try and knock the ball free from an opponent and passing to a teammate at the last minute can be crucial to gaining a victory.
Taking in the in-game options to learn the control scheme before you play a full match is highly recommended . The in-game physics and rules for matches will be rather confusing for those that skip over the tutorial and head right to the action. So spending some time practising before you take those skills into a real match is the key to success here.
Both options to play have the same three maps to play on and quickly boredom sets in with such a lack of variety. Three maps for each at launch would have helped relieve some of the mundanity that can be felt in lengthier play sessions. Limited mode options are present but add very little spice to the mix with 2 v 2 modes or modifiers such as limiting how long you can be in possession of the ball being the offerings available.
Player avatars – whilst varied and quite colourful – all play exactly the same as each other. This is quite a disappointment as mixing up stats to give a different feel for each in-game character could have really given a reason to try and master each character on the roster. You do however have options to customise your character with new skates, T-shirts and other skate attire. None of these items are branded merchandise like we have seen in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or more recently Shredders. Not having brands is absolutely fine, on the same note however, none of the gear on offer is currently desirable enough to sink time (or money) into in order to unlock. Perhaps down the line we may see crossovers with other properties like Fortnite has frequently done, or brand collabs on some of the skating gear. Perhaps in the future a Mighty Ducks (Anaheim Ducks) jersey set would be well received on the marketplace for fans of skating in general: Devs, if you’re reading this…
Of course as is standard for most, if not all, free-to-play multiplayer titles we get the obligatory “battle pass” and tiers. In Roller champions this is called the “Roller Pass” and functions exactly like any other battle pass. Earn points to work through the various tiers unlocking items as you progress.
The pricing here for the “roller pass” works out at £3.99 via purchasing 500 wheels. Wheels being the main in-game currency as the prices range from £3.99 for 500 to a whopping £89.99 for 13,000! In Roller Champions’ favour, buying the pass does not seem as integral to playing the main game modes and feeling progression outside of earning new gear.
Once you are ready to head into a full match you have a couple of options. Quick matches for a drop in and play casual match or Ranked Matches that allow you to test your skills out against the best of the best. This is where Roller Champions begins to fall apart.
When not trying your luck in competitive modes you can hang out in a non-competitive match with other players, in the skatepark where you can practice tricks, skate together and throw the ball around with friends. Sadly not many social options are provided here to communicate with players in-game or challenge them to races or even a trick competition.
Unfortunately like so many other sections in Roller Champions the novelty wears out pretty fast as the developers have missed a trick (literally) by not having a Tony Hawks style trick system to show off or compete with your friends with. Substance seems to be missing from every area in Roller Champions and could do with a lot of time improving.
As a fan of ice hockey I definitely think there is a missed opportunity here. Give the teams sticks and let’s have a street hockey mode, 3 v 3 with tackles and jump moves. It is things like this which could really spice things up for Roller Champions in the long run.
For now though, there just isn’t enough to keep your attention for any length of time in Roller Champions. This could well change down the line with new maps being added and tweaks to characters to make them stand apart from one another. However, as we write, after a few hours of fun in the arena, the sun sets pretty quickly on the initial enjoyment due to lack of variety.
Looping back to the opening of this review, if Roller Champions was a real sport it could easily attract many eyes to its events. Unfortunately, it just does not bring enough to the table as a ‘game’ in its current form.
Roller Champions is available to download for free from the Xbox Store