Rollerdrome (PC) Preview: Mad Max Inspired?

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From the developers of OlliOlli World, Roll7 will be bringing a whole different blend of a video game to the company. CGMagazine was able to talk with Roll7’s Head of Q&A, David Jenkins, and Lead Producer, Drew Jones—and take a sneak peek at their upcoming game, Rollerdrome. It is a single player, third person action shooter that blends chaotic combat with rollerblading…how is this possible? We will tell you how.

The storyline revolves around the main character (the person the player controls), Kara Hassan who is making her debut in a ravenous blood sport called “Rollerdrome” in the year 2030. The event is run by the mega corporation, Matterhorn, who the player will learn more about as they play through the game. Jones described the vision for the game as “the idea of what 2030 would have been like through the lens of the 1970s,” noting how they drew inspiration from films like The Running Man and the Mad Max films.

Jenkins shared when asked what inspired the focus on Rollerdrome being an action-sports game, “There’s several people in the studio, including some of the studio heads who have a background in extreme sports in general. So, we have people who have a passion for extreme sports, even outside video games. It’s sort of a natural progression, I think, for a lot of people to make games about them.”

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From my playthrough, I definitely recognized the general aesthetic of everything is very Mad Max related with Beyond Thunderdome and many other iterations of blood sports seen in popular media such as Alita: Battle Angel. The artistic work was inspired “from comic books and illustration with various sort of wonderful references to draw on to create a quite striking and distinctive art style,” Jones stated. Fans who enjoyed OlliOlli World will find something familiar with the artwork being even more defined in Rollerdrome.

In terms of the game mechanics, I was able to skate along shooting all the NPCs trying to kill me in the arena. I could attest the skating mechanics were very fluid and felt natural with every joystick flick. The shooting aspect made sense with the lock-on system when the player is close to their target or enemy projectiles to shoot at before it hits the player.

“Fans who enjoyed OlliOlli World will find something familiar with the artwork being even more defined in Rollerdrome.”

Jones explained and demonstrated more on the PlayStation 5 exclusive DualSense features for Rollerdrome, “One really nice touch that we added was, if you do a wall ride, depending on which side of Kara’s body you’re already on, you will feel that on the respective side of a controller.” He explained further, “The technology is always something that we’re always excited to check out…We definitely wanted to tap into that and make sure that we could leverage the 3D audio capabilities to really give the player the sense of space and give them a bit of gameplay feedback on where the threats were coming from.”

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With all the pandemonium going on, doing tricks and shooting enemies, it could be tough to keep track of everything going on. This is why Rollerdrome has Reflex Time, or ‘Bullet Time’ if anyone remembers that from The Matrix games/films or the Max Payne series. There is limited ammo the player can have for different guns, so they will have to pull off sick grabs and grind tricks to refill ammo. Also, Kara can get hurt, so the player will have to get health through killing “House Members” to replenish their health from the adrenaline-induced amphitheatre battle.

The beginning of the game walked me through a thorough tutorial on all of these mechanics and whenever new moves were introduced going from level to level. The progression of the game was pretty fast, if I could complete the assigned challenges set for each map/level. I thought the campaign was similar to skating-related games like the old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games or more recently in Ubisoft’s Riders Republic—minus the open world.

Aside from the campaign mode, Rollerdrome will also have an unlockable competitive mode, “Out for Blood” where players can stack themselves against the online leaderboards through the most gruelling skills and agility scenarios. It was astonishing to see developers like Roll7 pushing the genres and blending elements that seem crazy together but make sense in practicality—similarly to Amplitude Studios.

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Overall, the retro music and comic book art style smoothly worked in this blood sport, offering a familiar charm and satisfaction to do tricks and kill NPC enemies. The simple controls and boundaries set within Rollerdrome were really tight, which provided seamless playthroughs. If I got clipped through the environment or fell off the map, the game reset me instantaneously in a relatively safe spot every time.

Jones offered their impressions of the gameplay and started off playing more “defensive” in terms of trying to navigate the chaos. “And once you start taking the fight to them and using their attacks against them. That’s when the game kind of switches, and it ties into the narrative quite a lot as well. Because you do start off as a kind of new competitor in this kind of blood sport. But hopefully by the end, you’re kind of taking the fight to the enemies, and you’re having a great time doing so.”

Jenkins shared their impressions as well and how he hopes players will enjoy Rollerdrome, “…we said this a lot during development, we want the player to feel like a badass. We want you to be skating around pulling off combos, lob a grenade over there, immediately turn around, shotgun that person, land on a ramp, do a backflip, shoot that person with a pistol, and that whole sort of sequence, you need to sort of finish a combo and be like, ‘that was awesome’.” He continued noting, “I want people to be playing this game going, ‘Oh, I’ve got to show people that that was so cool’.”

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Rollerdrome is an awesome throwback to the rollerblading park genre, adding a twist to the action/shooting elements that Roll7 players will feel native towards. Rollerdrome will launch August 16, 2022, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Steam (PC)—retailed at $29.99.

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