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Ubisoft's Roller Champions skates into a public test

Meaner than Jet Set Radio

Among their lineup of grim games about gruff men with guns, Ubisoft dropped a little bit of joy during their big E3 show: Roller Champions, available to play now in pre-alpha demo form. It's an online three-on-three full-contact mutation of Roller Derby, mixed in with a little basketball. High-speed dunks and brutal tackles make it a sport that only lunatics would play in real life, but thanks to the wonders of videogames, we get to hurt people on rollerskates guilt-free. It'll be free-to-play when it launches, but the pre-alpha demo is open to all on Uplay and runs until June 14th, or you can add it to your account here on the Ubisoft store.

While I wish Ubisoft had fully committed and made the official Battle Angel Alita Motorball game that I've always dreamed of playing, this looks like the next best thing, and more kid-friendly. As in basketball, the goal is simply to put the ball in the high, wall-mounted hoop, but only after skating a full lap of the arena. Of course if you're planning on just tackling the person who has the ball, there's no rule saying that you have to keep skating in the same direction. Again, the kind of wheeled anarchy that could kill people in reality, but is just family fun in the virtual sphere.

There's some extra interesting quirks to the rules. To win a round, you need to score five points, but you don't have to dunk after just one lap. Run two laps while it's in your team's possession and that ball's worth two points. The store page mentions some campaign-style progression, with you earning fans through skilled play, unlocking larger stadiums and larger audiences, sponsorship deals and all the usual sports-tangential fluff. Maybe for the full game. Me? I just want a multiplayer game that reminds me of Speedball or the wildly underrated Deathrow on the original Xbox. This might just do.

The Roller Champions demo is out now, and a relatively small 1.8gb download, unpacking to a 3.3gb install. You can grab it on Uplay or via the Ubisoft store.

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Roller Champions

PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

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Dominic Tarason