Rocket League is just over a month old after being released July 7th, 2015 for PC and PS4 and it has already made a huge name for itself. The game is growing so fast that a new map has already been released and caused a commotion about competitive play. Yes, that’s right it already has it’s own competitive scene set up, along with Psyonix, the game’s publisher, having a world championship in the works. There is even a dedicated Rocket League Twitch channel and this is just the start.
Rocket League is supposedly a sports game, but it’s sports in the way that cars are usually used to play soccer with. Which so happens to be what the game is about. Your character is a car that you control with quite a bit of precision. You are given buttons to drift, jump, boost, reverse, accelerate, and move in any conceivable direction, including aerial flips and rolls. You are even allowed to drive on the walls of the arena and can get a bit of the way across the ceiling before falling. Trust me, it’s fun to test the limits of gravity in this game.
After you’re done driving up the walls and a bit of the ceiling you might want to try playing the game. First you’ll come to recognize a few positions that you will start in, it’s important to know them as it will dictate what job you have in the game during the first few seconds. If you’re really far back you might want to defend your goal as the ball has as good a chance of coming your way as being hit into the enemy’s side. If you are on the sides you might want to run damage control. How exactly? We’ll get back to that. Finally if you’re slightly off of center from the ball in the midfield you have the best shot on the ball. From this position you can make a coal in less than 2 seconds of game time if done properly. That takes time to learn and generally any time you go up against humans it won’t be a play that works very often.
Damage control in this game works a couple of ways. You can knock the ball away from the enemy team so they don’t have a good position on it and take away possession of it. Then there is the option to bump into the enemy directly and change their position so they are disorientated for a moment. Then finally there is the reason Rocket League gets its name, collect some boost and ram into your enemies making them explode. This takes them out of the game for a moment and respawns them back on their side of the field. So if you see them pushing the ball to your side and you need to take one of them out to get the advantage back, go for it. The cars explode into a cloud of fire and smoke that literally says “BOOM”. Something I didn’t catch the first few times playing. I actually said, “boom” while exploding a car and one of my friends pointed out that it actually did spell boom out.
Rocket League offers quite a bit of innovation. If you can predict the angle of the ball and know that it’s a bit too high for a normal jump, then you can boost yourself higher in the air with an angled leap. Boost is the most useful tool you have in the game. It allows you to not only explode other players, but to get across the map in the matter of seconds, leap higher, and secure goals. However, boost is a resource that does run out and you’ll constantly be looking for ways to refill it. Luckily Rocket League has the answer right in front of you. Little glowing circles are placed all over the field which give you 12 boost each. You max out at 100 boost so this isn’t going to get you far. Sometimes 12 boost makes all the difference in a game so you might as well pick them up as you need them.
At six points on the arena there are glowing circles that have an orb above them. These are precious as they give the player who drives over them full boost. That also makes these points high traffic sites for battles over the ball. The player who gets the orb gets an advantage that the other player might not have and, with skill, can take over the ball.
Rocket League is addictive. So much so that I almost had trouble ripping myself away from it to write this article. The matches are only five minutes long, but that just makes it easier to click continues on, “just one more”. Each one feels like popping a piece of candy in your mouth and takes about the same length of time to finish as one. So grab your bag of jolly ranchers and pop away, because I’m going to be sitting there doing the same thing.
I’ve been skeptical to call Rocket League a sports game because I don’t fancy sports games often and this doesn’t feel like playing Madden or FIFA or any other sport game out there. This game is submersive. You design the car you want with parts that randomly unlock after every game you play, which allows the car to feel more, you. Then while essentially Rocket League puts you in a very large box, it feels more free than most other sports games. Then again the easiest way to describe the game is to day it’s playing soccer with cars.
I’d describe the game as more of a party game, the new Mario Kart. Still it offers the option to take the competition of a party game further and make it into something more serious. At which point it becomes something new, something that people can just watch to enjoy. It becomes an esport at this point and you find yourself looking up player who have already started to make names for themselves. You might start looking up gaming streams and Youtube videos of awesome saves. Perhaps you might delve into the massive pile of news and reviews that this game has already received.
One of the most exciting PS4 features about the game is that it offers four player split screen. This is why it makes an awesome party game. Work with your friends on a chaotic team of four versus four or couple up as pairs and go head to head in the two versus two mode. The fact that this game has the dying feature of four player split screen warrants its immediate success in gaming history.
Don’t have a PS4 but want to partake in gaming with your friends, don’t worry, cross system play is coming soon. The developers are working on their servers currently. With the masses playing this game it can be quite stressful for the servers. Once they get servers solves they have promised to work on their advertised cross system party system. Just be patient with this game, it’s still an infant.
Buy this game, it’s worth it. Every person I’ve had try it loves it. I’m going to be letting my younger siblings try it out to see how they fare, but that’s an experiment for another day. I’m giving this game a 9/10. I’m hesitant to go any higher as Rocket League will grow into new things as time goes on. I fully support this game and look forward to seeing you in the arena.
Sidney Shackleton | @Shacksi