Roller Champions Analysis: The challenge of breaking into a new extreme sport versus the challenge of being a regular free-to-play player
Starting a new sport isn’t easy, but the real challenge is to nurture it enough to make it a success. Give it momentum until it runs smoothly. The good news is that Roller Champions is designed so that you aim to win after two games. Ubisoft mixes speed skating, rugby and basketball with an extra dose of madness. Three disciplines merged into one shameless summer activity. What speaks against him, however, is not his rules, nor his ideas, nor his control: it is his very competitive background.
Roller Champions is breaking out as a new sport in the form of a video game. Fast-paced games that can be played in teams of three and in refreshing environments. Games that, as already mentioned, anticipate the arrival of summer itself through their atmosphere and their environments. Its pace helps too, and the fact that it’s free to play gives the set an extra boost. Enough to park our favorite obsessions at the controls? That, my friend, is the big question.
Let me explain: Ubisoft took their time launching Roller Champions, and it shows. So much so that even with a sport entirely invented for the occasion, the element of surprise has been completely diluted over time. For reference, Roller Champions was released in the euphoria of E3 2019 (although leaked a few days before) and has had numerous release dates since. Maybe too many.
In turn, Ubisoft has strengthened the idea of supporting Roller Champions at a playable level, offering games with more substance but keeping a weakness visible even from the stands: the idea is good, really good, but the emotion is in the rink, the stadium that was created for the occasion, ended up being too intermittent. And when it goes out, the magic disappears and hardly ever comes back. If this happens to you in three games in a row, it’s very difficult to start the fourth; and that’s the biggest weakness of Roller Champions.
Put like that, you could almost say that it applies to every game, but the truth is that Ubisoft strives from beginning to end to offer a new sports discipline that is simple and dynamic enough to be understood in no time and to attract others Player profiles.
Some very interesting rules. Some games where the emotion is diluted
The new Tangent from Ubisoft Originals is a new sport lived through the screens. A free video game, yes, but with strong competitive aspirations that’s also totally cross-platform and cross-play. Roller Champions definitely has all the ingredients to play at least one game to see how well we can score with rollers.
Where’s the fine print for Roller Champions? Well, there isn’t. In fact, the monetization proposed by Ubisoft basically touches all the sticks and includes season passes, “lootballs” with random items and even the direct purchase of accessories. But absolutely nothing that is for sale gives us any real advantage in the games.
The premise of the game is simple, ingenious and promising: two teams on ice skates, orange and blue, compete against each other on a closed oval track with two steep curves and a kind of raised basket to shoot a ball. The general goal of both teams is to complete a full circle of the course once, retain the ball, and then score it to increase the score based on any additional laps around the course.
One of the successes of Roller Champions is the use of physics, allowing us to use the slopes and inclines of the track, as well as the areas of the walls to add extra momentum, accelerate to absurd speeds or defy gravity itself. Also, of course, to push us on the back of the opponent and overtake him when we are in a hurry.
What can the opposing team do? Basically anything you want. As we mentioned before, the idea is to go around the rink, the playground, at least once and hold the ball. so that if it passes into the hands of the opposing team, all cycles of accumulated rounds are lost up to the last basket and, without interrupting the action, the opportunity to score is passed to the opponents. And then the rugby rules come out.
In between, players are allowed to trample, elbow, fall, spin and even double front kick with both skates after a huge boost. Techniques that look almost like something out of Street Fighter. What should be exciting, however, empties more often than desired, if not frustratingly, for would-be scorers and attackers alike:
- Whoever has the ball in possession basically dodges their opponents to the goal, but moments of epic and emotion are missing. Scoring goals is either too routine or, depending on the opponent, becomes tedious if they are particularly annoying.
- Those who want the ball reduce their activity to hitting those who have it at all costs, but far from being attractive, it becomes a procedure that results in hits or misses instead of moments of laughter , leaving us unused for a few precious seconds . . .
On paper, Roller Champions rules take the best of many sports and Ubisoft implemented a game system where skating is fun and points have special value; But in practice we find that the game lacks very distinct elements, such as: B. how difficult it is to live fast-paced moments throughout the game, the little margin it gives players to really excel at scoring, or simply the ability to provide a cooperative and competitive experience that reaches for three games. Fatal bugs in a game like Roller Champions.
If we add to all the above that the most attractive reward in the game is a “lootball” in which you can get gloves, we run into the really big problem of Roller Champions: the excitement of the games is weakened too quickly. and that makes finding opponents beyond Quick Match an odyssey. We are therefore wondering how many players will have unlocked the competitive mode and what percentage of them will be regular players.
Roller Champions: a new free competitive sport
The world has changed drastically since our first Roller Champions games, but the Ubisoft Originals title retains its original purpose: to be summer’s new obsession. It has taken its time in matching its elements, and its theme and sportsmanship betray its intentions from game one. Until then, Roller Champions comfortably fulfills everything it set out to do.
Their commitment to the free-to-play format speaks for them, of course, and even more so their way of merging sports activities, but the current panorama is quite different: there are not only too many free-to-play games, but also many Summer titles like Rocket League or Fall Guys have adopted the format. Standing out in this area is now much more complicated, and even more so when the Roller Champions games are not able to offer the player unforgettable moments.
Roller champions lack these powerful drivers to create feats, spectacular plays, and resources that add an extra color to triumphs and minimal failures. Or, if that’s not possible, and as a last resort, a reward attractive enough that it’s worth fighting for, elbowing, or aiming for as if life depended on it. And the truth is, at Roller Champions, the prices and the way they are offered don’t help either.
As mentioned, Ubisoft has diversified the monetization of Roller Champions in every possible area except NFTs. But the truth is that it is difficult to advance in a Battle Pass when it is difficult to find games, the prizes are hairstyles, gloves, skates or suits of extremely bright colors, and very rarely anything interesting is touched on in the lootballs. It’s not that we were unlucky, it’s that the probabilities – which can be verified – are pretty tight.
On the other hand, you can also buy Wheels, the in-game currency, and cosmetic content from the store and directly. But the prices of the items and the many wheels make us quite question the investment. Especially when it is normal to cancel the matchmaking of our competitive game to return to a quick game to continue playing.
And there are games whose raison d’être is to provide an intense and shared experience and then take it easy from there. This is what makes the Achilles heel of Roller Champions…
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