Mobility Game Review – Roller Champions Alpha

Roller Champions is a team based game with intense action and roller skating. This is our Mobility review of the Alpha.
Roller Champions Cover

Roller Champions is a team-based game of the sports genre. Two teams of three players run, or roll, since they use roller skates, to get possession of the ball, do a full lap to unlock the goal and score by throwing the ball in. All this takes place in an oval arena surrounded by fans that cheer with excitement after every pass, tackle and team play. The game is still in Alpha phase but we played it on PC to see how it performs in terms of accessibility. Put on your helmet and let’s begin.

Settings

When we enter the Options menu we find four tabs. All menus and settings can be fully navigated using the mouse or gamepad. I have to say the menus are simple but functional and not having to press any specific key to go back, apply and such gives a good first impression.

Gameplay menu with options for Throw Sensitivity, Look Sensitivity and Invert Vertical Cam Axis.

In Gameplay, we have a mix of options all related to controls sensitivity for the mouse in my case. I can’t tell if there are the same for the gamepad as my controller is broken at the moment. In regards to what I can say with certainty we have separate sliders for Throw Sensitivity of X and Y axis, or if you want to simplify horizontal and vertical. These control the mouse sensitivity when aiming to score a goal. Then we have similar sliders for Look Sensitivity, to control the camera movement. These particular settings are more important as we will see later. Last but not least we have Invert Cam Vertical Axis with a checkmark that acts as on/off. As the name implies it inverts the vertical movement of our mouse. There is also a Reset Gameplay Options with a clickable button to bring all previous options to their original values. There are a couple of things to mention here. For starters the text on the top of the menu says AIMING but these settings are not limited to that. Second, the font is hard to read. All caps, very angular… I have no cognitive issues and yet the word eluded me for a few moments. Also, these settings make more sense, at least to me, in the Controls tab. Lastly, there should be consistency in the wording. Using X and Y for axis sensitivity and then vertical for inversion feels a bit messy. Both systems are valid but for clarity, they should stick to one.

Graphics menu with options for Display Mode, Screen Resolution, Quality and VSync.

In the Graphics tab, the options are Display Mode, to choose between Fullscreen and Windowed. Screen Resolution, which needs no explanation. Then Quality, which adjusts the overall quality of the graphics, with High and Low values. Vsync to enable disable this feature and a button to reset all these settings to their original values. The menu lacks many options to customize the graphics properly, not just for performance and personal preference but for accessibility reasons. Disabling antialiasing, motion blur, depth of field, basic brightness and contrast options are missing which is not good at all. Also no colorblind modes, but the game uses blue and orange for the team’s name tags and other HUD elements which helps in general but not for all types of colorblindness.

Sounds menu with volume sliders for each type of sounds, Audio Output type, Streamer Mode and Subtitles enabler.

The Sounds tab contains separate volume sliders for Master, Crowds, Music, Voice and Sound Effects. These are perfectly functional and allow us to customize all the different types of sounds. Voice refers to the announcer’s voice, not the voice chat because in this Alpha version there is no such feature. Audio Output has Headphones, Stereo and Surround modes. There is also a Streamer Mode setting that I am guessing disables the copyrighted songs to avoid problems and a Subtitles switch. You can have them on/off but right now there is no other option to customize them. Also the subtitles are off by default.

Controls scheme for keyboard and mouse, the text at the bottom reads Remapping Feature coming soon.
The gamepad control scheme for Xbox control.

At last, we get to the Controls tab, but unfortunately there is nothing to customize here at this moment and it only shows the default control scheme for the selected device, keyboard or gamepad. The game will automatically show the one you are actively using, so if you want to play using a gamepad but you accidentally move your mouse it will change. Both the keyboard and gamepad schemes show a “Remapping Feature coming soon” text so hopefully we’ll be able to do so in the future. The current default keys are not accessible for many gamers and this is a must-have feature in any game. 

Gameplay

The first thing you will do is create a character using preset faces, body type and such. The basic gameplay consists of getting the ball by any means, even if it is tackling the opponent. Once you have it, you have to cross the checkpoint lines gaining speed by taking advantage of the arena shape and gravity, meaning you run using the curved and slightly elevated sides then crouch / pump when going down to gain momentum. Sounds difficult but it’s simple, think of it as if you throw a ball up a ramp and how it accelerates when coming down. Other key actions are dodging opponents’ attacks or passing the ball to another teammate. Once you complete a lap the goal will open, giving you the chance to aim and hopefully score a point. If you complete two laps consecutively you score three points and if you make it up to three laps and score, you automatically win the match. The match lasts seven minutes which makes games very fast. The better you do the more fans and coins you’ll get. Fans fill up the stadium and money is used to buy customization items for looks and social animations. None of these elements impact gameplay.

Game modes are Quick Match, Ranked Match, Training without Bots and Training.

Game modes are Quick Match, to play 3 vs 3 with human players. You can invite friends or play with random players. There is a Training Without Bots mode where you play on your own or with friends but there is no opponent team, which can be used to practice your basic skills. The last mode, Training, sets you and your teammates, whether they are human or AI-controlled versus an AI team. Word of advice, the computer plays at a good level so don’t underestimate them.

  • WASD keys work to control your direction but they are mostly used for sudden changes in direction or tackles/dodges. For the most part, you’ll be running in the direction you are facing, so you need to hold down W. The mouse and the arena shape can then be used to steer, like in most first / third-person games, making AD almost unnecessary. This is the reason why I said before mouse sensitivity for Look is very important to get right. By letting go of the direction you can use the mouse to turn the camera without affecting your movement. This is useful to look back and keep opponents in check.
  • To accelerate you have to hold down the Shift key, and since speed is key here you’ll be holding it most of the time. To pump/crouch you do exactly the same with the Control key. This is a big problem for low mobility players, as holding down keys for so long is extremely exhausting to the point of hurting. The key position is a problem too. On top of that, you have to alternate them to gain speed using the walls.
White arrows form a line showing the ball trajectory when aiming to score.
  • To aim for scoring you hold down the left mouse button and then let go. I think a toggle option for those needing it could help, as holding down and aiming is tiresome. Since once you let go of the button you’ll shoot anyway I don’t see why not to implement it. Maybe make left click toggle aiming then while in that mode the right button to shoot could be another choice.
  • Pressing the right mouse button once works in two ways. If you don’t have the ball, you will perform a tackle on your opponent. Pressing it while in possession of it will cause the player to try to dodge enemy attacks.
F key above close teammate to initiate team move and E above a far player indicating possibility to pass.
  • Q is the brake key, again a hold down. Space is for jumping. Pressing E once is all you need to do to pass the ball or ask your teammates for it. This mechanic is simple and well designed and in its current form works fine.
Gaining speed by holding on to a teammate and preparing a team move.
  • F is used for the Team Move. You just need to get close to a teammate and press it once. Doing this you’ll grab their shoulder. From here you can jump higher, or get a speed boost by pressing the accelerate key. It’s a good feature and again not a hold down, which helps a lot.
  • The arrow keys, up, down…activate the so-called social interactions, which are moves and poses to make your fans go wild, taunt your opponent or just look cool. All you need to use them is press once and it will play out.

Conclusions

Splash screen of the game with clickable Press Start to play text.

The first thing that I have to say is that all menus being fully navigable using a mouse is great. Options, customization, play modes… all can be done pressing the right icon / button on the screen. Not only that but even the splash screen, which in many games is plagued with the need for a specific key to be pressed, works fine by clicking on the right place. So in terms of UI, good job.

The lack of remapping is a big problem, but once it is implemented the title accessibility would improve dramatically. And if the Escape key, used to access menus while in a match, can be remapped too it would be perfect. The mouse controls are good, functional and simple, with holding down to aim being the only issue. Also I would recommend adding horizontal inversion for those needing it.

The main difficulty is the need to hold down to accelerate / pump / brake. I understand the game mechanics but it’s not realistic for people to do that for long. Once again implementing an option so it could be a toggle would be not just advisable, but totally necessary. In the current format, we are talking about holding direction plus accelerate /pump / brake for most of the match. Add the taps to pass / team moves / poses and it is unplayable without assistive software.

Button Y is shown at the bottom of screen when it should display the E key.

There is a small bug during matches. When playing using the keyboard the icon showing the possibility to call for a teammate to pass us the ball shows the Y gamepad button instead of the E key.

Last but not least in its current state there is no form of communication, which is a big problem in a game about teamwork. There should be voice and text chat, with both press to talk and open mic options. And for CVAA compliance Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text solutions.

All in all the game is fun and has many positives but without the mentioned changes / additions it would be impossible to play for most gamers with reduced mobility. Given it’s in the Alpha phase I hope the developing team will do their best to make this game more accessible.

Mobility Game Review - Roller Champions Alpha

Overall Score - 4.2

4.2