I had the opportunity to play in the Alpha of Roller Champions. In case you don’t know, Roller Champions is a sports game, developed by Ubisoft. The concept is a mix between a roller derby involving three players per team in an oval track, competing to complete a lap and score a goal.
As always, let’s start with the settings. Unfortunately, it was extremely limited.
There is just one option, which is to turn on and off the subtitles. But while playing, I got to see that the subtitles were in white and bold font. It was also bigger than average. However, I had trouble reading the subtitles due to the fact the track is quite colorful and sometimes there isn’t just enough contrast to understand the whole phrase. Below you can see an example of the subtitles.
If there was any option for subtitles background or even any sort of contouring on the words, it would make it easier to read and not force so much my eyes trying to quickly read what’s being said. Subtitle size options would help for those playing away from their screen or simply wanting bigger text.
I only confirmed after the match that there are moments the subtitles don’t show up, such as in the countdown of the last seconds of the match. Most of the time I would only realize the match was ending literally because it ended. I wouldn’t pay much attention to the timer since my attention is mostly focused on the bottom half of the screen.
Something that definitely was missing was a communication tool with my team. No voice chat, no text chat, nothing at all. There was no way to communicate with them except by using emotes. But even then, emotes aren’t an efficient way to get a message across due to many variables, such as you are constantly skating and not always have your teammates in your vision. That definitely made a couple of moments harder in the game because I wanted to communicate, but couldn’t.
If voice chat is going to be the standard in the game, I hope there is a Speech-to-text function available. It would make communication much more accessible and inclusive, considering this is a team-based game (and in the sports genre) so efficient communication is necessary.
What I’m going to say now is more of a general opinion, not directly related to my disability.
I did feel at times that there are plenty of tweaks to be done. I wish it was possible to rebind the keys for the Alpha because the acceleration was done by holding down Shift, which is something that left me confused since W is most of time used to move forward. It seems that W have absolutely no function in this game. And of course, WASD gave me the impression that it doesn’t seem to work well with the track shape, most of the time it felt that either AD were making me overshoot the curves.
There is also a key that doesn’t show up on the Controls page, but it shows up while playing and even after playing a couple of matches. I can’t say what it is for, because it seems that it does the same function depending on the context, but I couldn’t confirm that. The letter Y is displayed, but it seemed to be a bug showing the gamepad button Y instead of the correct E key. This was very confusing.
Another thing that left me extremely frustrated were the bots in the training match. In the beginning, it was cool watching my skater being knocked down, but it got tiring and frustrating very quickly. I was constantly being knocked down, sometimes it would be a sequence of bots knocking me down. And because I was being knocked down with no bounce back possibility, like in some games, it made me feel that I was losing precious seconds because of all the knocking down animations.
Another thing that was frustrating is passing the ball. Despite the ball having a sort of round symbol on it to signal where it is, it doesn’t make clear if the player is passing me the ball or not. It only signals where the ball is, but it doesn’t give me any visual clue if the player is about to pass the ball or not. And this is a piece of essential information for me, because then I can try to avoid the adversary robbing the ball while it’s in air.
I don’t think there is any other moment where I felt the visual cues were necessary, but again, the game was in Alpha state, so there might be a necessity for better or more visual cues once the game gets to the final version.
I also have to be honest and say that in this Alpha state, the game feels extremely simple for me. I couldn’t see any appeal to keep playing it for more than 30 minutes. I’m hoping that I can see more of the game in the Beta or even in the final version, so I can confirm those feelings or not.
Alexia is a deaf writer, graduated in Audiovisual Communication and a Master student in Screenwriting. Passionate about representation, accessibility and mental health in media, also writes about personal experiences with deafness/hearing loss and mental health on Medium. You can contact her on Twitter at @AlehCemy