Published on July 26th, 2022 | by Abdul Saad
Rollerdrome Hands on Preview
Rollerdrome is the new high-octane third-person shooter-skater hybrid from roll7 and Private Division based on the new Rollerdrome bloodsport sweeping the nation in 2030, where corporations reign supreme. While the game is set in the future, it still noticeably sports an intense 80s-90s aesthetic inspired by the roller derbies. The game follows protagonist Kara Hassan, a newcomer to Rollerdrome and a competitor in the 2030 Rollerdrome Championship. The game doesn’t tell us much about Kara, only that she’s a newcomer who took up a massive loan to participate in the competition. We’re also told the history of Rollerdrome as a sport along with information on its greatest past participants (all of whom the game expects you to surpass), the tools of the craft, and more. The game’s story is told through text via menus, and screens, with hints left here and there alluding to a grander narrative that can only be revealed as you progress through the game.
After your first round of short tutorials, you are then pushed to the first stage of the competition, where you go guns blazing, defeating enemies, performing tricks, and scoring points in the coolest way possible. An undeniable fact about Rollerdrome is that it plays really well and really smoothly. Moving around the rink is effortless and doesn’t require any complex input (at least while using a controller, which the game advises). As long as you’re already in motion, you just use the left stick to change directions, the D-pad to change weapons, and the left bumper and X button to perform tricks.
However, while the controls are easy to use and master, everything else is far from simple as players will be juggling with avoiding and dispatching enemies to get health, performing tricks to gain bullets and points, and of course, trying to unlock each of level’s ten side challenges that range from pickups littered around the arena to beating incredible clear times left by former Rollerdrome champions. As a result, trying to clear these levels can be intense and even hectic at times, especially as each level will have increasing amounts of enemy mobs, ranging from rocket-launching enemies to snipers that will have their sights on you throughout.
A great element of the game is its distinct visual aesthetic which I mentioned earlier. The animation looks almost rotoscoped but with significantly faster motions, further emphasizing its 80s-90s aesthetic, and the character designs are crisp and detailed. Each level also comes with its unique and picturesque arena, which can range seasonally from sunny desertscapes to snowy areas.
The only aspect of the game I’m not fond of so far is its progression system. As mentioned earlier, the game is set around a tournament, so each level is categorized into several stages in the competition, from the “Opening Stages” to the Quarters, Semi Quarters, and Finals. However, upon completing each stage, you’ll be forced to complete a set amount of challenges (if you already haven’t beforehand) from levels in the previous stage in order to move on to the next. I found this a bit frustrating as it ruined the pacing and my excitement for each stage and felt like I had to do homework every time I wanted to see more content.
Other than that, after playing through the first six levels, I can confidently say that Rollerdrome is just as good as it looks and plays superbly. Its intense visual aesthetic and story’s potential also serve as an added bonus. It’s just too bad that it will also make you work extra for content.