Don’t miss this killer genre mash-up on PS Plus this month


Private Division

Of the three games available for no additional cost with a PlayStation Plus Essential subscription this February, the best game isn’t the highest-profile one. A lot of attention is going to Foamstars, the odd multiplayer game Square Enix launched free on PS Plus, but the real gem of February 2024’s PS Plus Essential lineup is Rollerdrome from Roll7 and Private Division.

First released for PS5 and PC in August 2022, I previously described this game as Max Payne meets Skate. Essentially, Rollerdrome is a sports combat game where players must roller-skate around and do tricks in order to accrue ammo used to shoot enemies with guns. It’s a simple gameplay loop and premise that Rollerdrome gets the most out of, and it’s a must-play for those looking for some simple yet satisfying action.

Blood sport

In Rollerdrome, players control a character named Kara Hassan as she ascends the ranks in the titular sport, which sees “players” combat each other with deadly weapons. While many of the enemies Kara takes on are mostly static, she can skate around on a pair of rollerblades. Rollerdrome features a full-on combo system like a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Skate titles, although it’s not as punishing if you mess up an input or chain together a combo properly.

Hasan performing a grab trick in Rollerdrome with a rocket chasing them.
Private Divison

Instead, the challenge comes from managing ammo and health in gunfights. Kara starts with just dual-wielded pistols but gains access to more weapons like a shotgun and grenade launcher over the course of the adventure. All of them are very effective at taking enemies down but are limited in ammo. To regain shots, Kara must perform various tricks. In that way, Rollerdrome beautifully melds the two halves of its gameplay system.

You can’t just play it purely like a sports title or third-person shooter; you have to play it like both. Mid-air, Kara can also activate Reflex Time to enter a slow-mo aiming mode that’s really reminiscent of Max Payne. Kara has health of her own too, so you’ll need to be cognizant of all the bullets being fired at you and dodge accordingly. If you’re looking for another game that carries the Max Payne torch after beating El Paso, Elsewhere, then Rollerdrome has you covered.

Rollerdrome never strays too far from those basics but still finds consistent ways to freshen the game by introducing new weapons, enemy types, and even boss encounters. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up and start playing if you’re familiar with games from either of the genres it is pulling from, but it features tons of hidden depth that rewards those who learn the intricacies of its skating system.

Rollerdrome finds subtle ways to encourage players to get better, too. Each level features a series of challenges for players to complete, and going through that checklist of objectives will teach new high-level tricks. Progression is locked behind completing a certain number of objectives, so don’t be dissuaded if you score somewhat poorly your first time through a level and have to replay it. That’s where a lot of Rollerdrome’s fun comes from.

Hasan shoots her grenade launcher at an enemy in the middle of a jump.
Private Division

I had a great time with Rollerdrome when I first played it in 2022 on PC, but I hadn’t returned to it for quite a while. Picking it up again on PS5 reminded me of how developer Roll7 creates some of the most gratifying gameplay loops in the whole industry. If you enjoyed the frenetic nature of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s combat but didn’t like all the screen clutter and frustrating grind that came with it, then Rollerdrome is a stripped-down yet even more exhilarating alternative.

It might seem like a bit of a lost cause to argue that you should play this third-person shooter on PS5 when so many others are coming out this month, like Foamstars and the surprisingly excellent Helldivers 2. There is no other game that offers an experience quite like Rollerdrome, though, so it’s definitely worth giving a shot if its premise intrigues you. At the very least, make sure you download it before March’s PS Plus Essential games arrive.

Rollerdrome is available on PS5 through PS Plus Essential until March 4. If you’d prefer to play it elsewhere, it’s also available on PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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