Disco Dodgeball is a game that anyone who enjoys first person shooters should honestly consider. Sadly, there’s not a huge fan base with this game, but the ones that are there are friendly and supportive, and there’s a nice catalogue of guides to help you learn the ropes. It’s non-stop frantic fun that gets more rewarding as you become a stronger droid, and nothing tops the excitement of catching a dodgeball mid-air and taking out an opponent with that same ball. While it may not be ready for primetime, this feels like an exceptional precursor to what could be the next major E-Sport.
WHAT WE LIKED
*Non-stop first person dodgeball throwing that feels as intense as COD.
*A beautiful blend of strategy and chance.
*Pulling off trick shots is very rewarding.
WHAT WE DISLIKED
*The controls require a real time investment in order to get used to them.
*Lack of polish in visuals and spectator mode.
*Cosmetic items are hidden behind a paywall.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not the best at twitch-based shooters. I respect the hell out of anyone who can play these games and make them look easy because they require the fastest reflexes and focused muscle memory. Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball may seem like a shovelware experience from the outside, but when you put yourself on the droid’s wheel, you’ll find a high-octane and competitive twitch-based shooter that’s guaranteed to shake the most hardcore of gamers. While there are problems in the experience, they’re ones you can expect from a low-budget game. Like Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars before Rocket League, I believe Disco Dodgeball is one of those fantastic ideas that just needs a little more polish.
The main idea of the game is that you’re a robot in a bass-bumping, light-streaking club that’s filled with a ton of dodgeballs and a lot of noobs to pwn. Your one-wheeled robot can boost, jump, catch and throw dodgeballs, along with picking up power-ups along the way. These enhancements allow your robot to throw larger balls, use rocket packs, charge your shots quicker, boost constantly or fire homing shots. You can also pass your teammates balls, which opens the door for some fantastic plays. It will take a little time investment before you’ll learn how to anticipate enemy movements and lead your shots, and with no auto-aim it’s almost impossible with a controller.
Game types range from your standard fare of deathmatch, capture the flag (in this case a cube), kill the carrier and various other unique modes, all of which are geared towards the gameplay. There’s a score mode, that rewards players based on doing trick attacks like 360 mid-air strikes and alley-oops. There’s a hoops mode, where you have to infiltrate the enemy’s side and shoot a yellow ball through their goal. Perhaps my favorite is one where everyone has rocket packs and homing shots, a ridiculous mode filled with tons of aerial combat. Overall, this game features over 20 different game modes, all of which requires a nice blend of offensive precision and defensive maneuvers.
Controls is an area of interest, with some opportunities that keep it from being fantastic. When you move in a direction, you continue rolling in the given direction, which admittedly takes some getting used to. Once you do, you’ll feel comfortable scoping out enemies as you roll by them without having to aim and drive. If you want to stop dead in your tracks, which is a legitimate strategy if you’re dodging a shot or aiming, you can press the E button. Dashing and jumping is maintained by a meter, which needs to build up to 100% in order to use, so choosing the best moments to boost or building up a jump is crucial. While I can’t say I love the feeling of driving a unicycle, a bipedal character would not offer the same level of challenge and tricks offered through this control scheme.
The arenas may seem obnoxious at first, but they appear to be very thought out. The flashing lights provide an almost visual overload, making the action that much more chaotic and difficult to keep track of. When the music shifts, or the when the bass drops, the lights go crazy, changing from one color to another, always leaving you a tad disoriented. Most boards are laid out to where the balls end up bouncing to the center bottom of the map, leading to most combatants rushing there for another chance at pegging someone. They also litter the area with a ton of ramps, allowing you soar over your opponents, dunking shots onto their heads as you go flying by. This combination of aerial and ground combat makes this experience one where you never feel like you can ever let down your guard.
One of the best parts of the game is the risk/reward system in place. If someone throws a ball at you, you have a small chance of clicking the ball mid-air and catching it, causing your assailant to explode. If they miss, the ball can ricochet and still hit you. So, whenever an opponent has an advantage over you, you’ll naturally want to backpedal. But you can only pick up balls from the front, forcing you to put your back to your opponent in order to have another chance at taking them out. You can also block shots with your ball by throwing it at shots, which may bounce your ball back into your hands, leaving your opponent defenseless. Like rushing and jumping, holding the throw button builds up your shot’s power, but sometimes quickly throwing a ball at your opponent can be a smart idea as well, especially when surrounded. The range of strategy is quite impressive for such a simple control scheme and feels rewarding as you come to master it.
With that element of strategy there’s also a lot of luck with everything happening around you, so you’ll never know what’s going to happen next. You’ll feel like you’re in a pop-a-matic, where at any moment your back could be against a wall, only to have a dodgeball randomly drop right next to you from a higher platform. It’s a beautiful blend where the scales are constantly being tipped, where one missed shot feels like a complete shift in the battle’s dynamics.
The few complaints I have are mostly cosmetic. The robots are a little boring- not that the developer hasn’t put in the effort. There’s a ton of toppers, decals and effects to add to your robot to give them a little personality, but their design is a little blocky and lacks the charm that is really needed to make them pop. The game also features micro-transactions, which I’m simply not a fan of. It seems like anything you can buy only helps cosmetically, so unless you want to trick out your character, you can avoid this entirely. Also, during spectator mode, the camera doesn’t look through the map’s walls, which is very annoying when you spend half of your down time looking at an exterior wall while the action is happening on the other side of it.
Disco Dodgeball is a game that anyone who enjoys first person shooters should honestly consider. Sadly, there’s not a huge fan base with this game, but the ones that are there are friendly and supportive, and there’s a nice catalogue of guides to help you learn the ropes. It’s non-stop frantic fun that gets more rewarding as you become a stronger droid, and nothing tops the excitement of catching a dodgeball mid-air and taking out an opponent with that same ball. While it may not be ready for primetime, this feels like an exceptional pre-cursor to what could be the next major E-Sport.