I haven’t been playing many new things lately: the Android release of Hearthstone, a prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order that I didn’t like, and a remake of DmC: Devil May Cry.  As I was waiting for the House of Wolves DLC for Destiny to come out, I kept seeing the same game over and over on /r/ps4gifs — something called Rocket League.  The beta was easy enough to get into, so I decided to give it a try.

Long story short, I can’t wait for the full release in the summer and I’ve been telling everybody I can about Rocket League.  Here are my thoughts on Psyonix’s insanely fun game.

It's rocket-powered cars playing soccer and I can't stop playing it.
It’s rocket-powered cars playing soccer and I can’t stop playing it.

Yes, seriously — it’s rocket-powered cars playing soccer

It’s unclear if the cars are RC cars or actual people-driven cars, but it doesn’t matter.  Rocket League puts you in control of a rocket-powered car with the objective of scoring more goals with the enormous soccer ball in five minutes than the other team does.  Games range from one-on-one to four-on-four “chaos mode”, but the standard set is teams of three.


There isn’t much to learn, but that’s the beauty of it

The only thing close to a power-up in Rocket League is a boost gauge filled by driving over orange lights on the field.  You can drive the car forward and backward, boost, and single/double jump.  That’s it.

And that’s a good thing!  By taking away a lot of customizable bells and whistles like jump height, car health, and weapons, you are left with a purely fun experience.  The full release promises 150 customizable items, but I hope they are mainly aesthetic.

Don’t get me wrong — there is plenty to learn while playing Rocket League, like how to play angles and air balls.  But it isn’t overburdened with unnecessary features.


Games are wild, action-packed, and the perfect length

Each game is only five minutes long, which ends up taking about seven or eight minutes with goals and replays.  Every goal results in an XFL-style kickoff with every car boosting towards the middle of the field, ending with the ball flying somewhere.  Cars can easily drive up walls and even on the ceiling.  Oh, cars can also explode if hit hard enough by other players.  Don’t worry, though.  Exploding only results in a few seconds of inactivity before your car respawns.

There are two camera options in Rocket League, a forward-facing camera and a ball-focused camera.  I went all-in on the ball-focused camera, which I feel is the way most people will go.  The camera is always whipping around and it’s hard to know just who is around you when the ball is up in the air.  You might have the perfect touch lined up and WHAM, you’re out of the play.


The environment is perfect, too

It sure is purty.
In both look and sound.

When the dust does settle, Rocket League is an awfully pretty game.  It has a certain Geometry Wars feel to it with the glowing neon all over the place.  With all of the cars flying around and slamming into things, there is a surprisingly small amount of clipping which I only saw impacting the tires on the field.

Psyonix even went the extra mile to make the stadium not only look like a soccer stadium, complete with cheering fans and an advertisement banner enclosing the field that literally says “Advertisement” over and over, but also to sound like a soccer stadium.  During play, you’ll hear many vague chants from the crowd, adding to the incredible feel of the game.


You know those multiplayer games with bad matchmaking?  This isn’t one of them

I’m sure you’ve played plenty of games where you are stuck searching for the “best available lobby” for minutes at a time.  In my four or so hours with Rocket League, I don’t think I had a lobby search take longer than 10 seconds.  After a game ends, players can vote to rematch if they want.  I ended up playing in the same lobby for an hour last night and it was incredible.

I also found out the hard way (I was on my phone) that you are kicked for being idle after about 10 seconds.  New players can drop in to replace missing players, too, so you aren’t hamstrung if someone leaves the game and won’t be stuck with someone who isn’t playing for too long.


I couldn’t go this whole post without bragging at least a little bit

Scoring a goal feels incredible.  It really does.  That’s a .gif I made of my longest goal.  I’ve had my PS4 since launch and haven’t been inspired to make any replay into a .gif until I did that last night.  It’s just such a rush to score!

Rocket League is the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long, long time.  The full release promises 10 cars, 150 customizable items, season mode, stat tracking, and more.  It also will have local split-screen, which I’m super excited about.  I will, without a doubt, be playing Rocket League when it’s released in full.  See you on the field!



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