Many are familiar with the Harry Potter books and the game of Quidditch. Sure, it's fun to watch in a movie adaptation, but the rules can be pretty complex. So what happens if the rules are simplified into something more akin to Rocket League? The result is Broomstick League, a 3v3 competitive broom-flying game from developer Virtual Basement. The aesthetic looked familiar enough, so Shacknews strolled by publisher Blue Isle's booth at this year's TwitchCon and took this game for a ride.
Broomstick League sessions hit the Harry Potter aesthetic almost completely on the nose. The characters are all dressed in wizard robes, the environment looks like it was pulled straight out of Hogwarts, and the atmosphere generally feels like something concocted by J.K. Rowling. But in action, this feels much closer to Rocket League than Quidditch, with the idea being to take a single ball and fly it over to the other team's goal. As one might imagine, the biggest difference between Broomstick League and Rocket League is the added element of flight.
Flight changes up this type of game significantly, as players can either use their mouse or dedicated keys to ascend or descend. And with the action moving as quickly as it does, it can be hard to lose track of the ball. While Rocket League has a dedicated button to focus on the ball, Broomstick League doesn't appear to have that feature set up just yet. And even if it does, it may make flight a little more difficult. So for this demo, I focused less on finding the ball and more on just nailing the essence of flight. Once I got that down, it was time to learn Broomstick League fundamentals.
The left mouse button is the basic shooting button, which it meant to be used closer to the goal. There's a large portal-like ring that represents the goal post, which is good for one point. However, just underneath it at a perpendicular angle is a smaller ring. Shooting the ball through this smaller ring is good for two points, which gives teams more of a window to come from behind, albeit with a higher degree of difficulty.
Knowing where you are and how far you are from the goal is just part of the game. It's essential to know where your teammates are, especially since the right mouse button is used to pass to them when they're nearby. One major positive for Broomstick League is that passing and shooting all feels like a fluid motion, like a 3D version of FIFA. Once you get a handle on the passing system, offense starts to flow a lot more smoothly.
If you're playing defense, however, there's quite a bit of chaos you can throw into the mix. The left mouse button will unleash a burst spell that can stun anyone in your vicinity. Using this next to the ball-handler will cause them to drop the ball, where hopefully somebody on your own team can scoop it up. The right mouse button is for a short teleport move, which makes it easier to cut off the person on offense. Teleports are great for disrupting potential shots or for setting up the burst spell.
For a game that's early in development, Broomstick League nails a lot of the Rocket League essentials. The core controls and mechanics are simple to grasp, the pace is quick and frantic, and there's room for a lot of crazy, memorable moments. Even if I was on the wrong end of a walk-off two-point goal, it was still really cool to watch.
Virtual Basement has a long way to go before Broomstick League is ready for the masses, but the studio hopes to use its upcoming beta to craft a polished product that will resonate with casual and competitive players alike. Broomstick League is coming soon to PC, with a Steam Early Access period set to begin in 2020. You can learn more about the game from the Broomstick League website.