If you pay attention to gaming as a whole, you may have heard of a little gem called Rocket League. I wrote about it a couple months back during the second beta. From the end of that beta until release day, I was counting down, chomping at the bit. Now that the game is out and stable (and free on PS+!), I have no problem telling you to stop playing whatever you are currently playing and to start playing Rocket League.
- TL;DR: Pure, unadulterated fun.
- Platform: PS4
- Hours Played: 16
- What I Played: Season mode, online
- Should You Play It?: Yes yes yes yes yes
I already gave Rocket League beaming praise in my beta article, but I’ll gladly do it again. Rocket League is the mash-up of soccer and rocket-powered cars that you didn’t know you wanted. It really couldn’t be any simpler, either. Your car can drive forward and backward, power slide, single/double jump in any direction, boost, and drive up walls. Games are five minutes long with sudden death overtime.
Rocket League fully embodies the “easy to learn, hard to master” model. The tutorial levels take all of three minutes, after which you can easily play and not completely suck. I had a friend over just the other day and, after he played the tutorial, we played for hours. There are plenty of more advanced techniques to learn like aerial play, shot angling, and playing goalie. I don’t claim to be a master by any sense but I can definitely feel myself getting better.
One of the best thing about Rocket League is that the developers, Psyonix, are on record as confirming that they will have no pay-to-win DLC. No weapons, no stats, no nothing. Everything you can unlock for your car, from paint to hats to rocket trails, is purely aesthetic. This puts every player on the same level and leaves it all up to skill.
Rocket League can be played both offline and online. Offline, you can play against bots, local split screen, or in a season mode. I played a 27-game season and got pretty attached to my teammates. Heater and Merlin are my boys!
Online mode is where Rocket League really shines, though. The randomness of both other players and the ball’s bounces makes each game completely unique. Whether you’re playing with a pick up group or a party of friends, the five minute matches never end after one. Games can be played anywhere from one on one to teams up four, with three on three being the “standard” mode. Thankfully, bots take the spot of anyone who drops out in the middle of a match so your team isn’t hamstrung.
The arenas in Rocket League are another reason it’s so fun. Each arena, while they differ in theme and setting, is the same size and layout. They aren’t too cramped, even with eight cars flying around, but they are also small enough to know you can score the tying goal if you’re down one on the other side of the field with 10 seconds left. Your car can drive on the walls and even the ceiling (for a second or two). Curved ramps connect the floor to the walls, which leads to plenty of crazy bounces for Rocket League’s floaty ball.
Psyonix has a very good looking game with Rocket League. Even with the hundreds of customizeable items, I haven’t seen any issues with things looking out of place. Cars and arenas are very bright and flashy and the detail level, down to the individual pieces of turf, is impressive. Also, the soundtrack is just fantastic. I’m a big fan of EDM music and I’ve caught myself on my phone just listening to Rocket League’s menu music in the background more than once.
I really feel like Rocket League has enormous e-sport potential. The first Friday after the game came out, Rocket League was the most watched game on Twitch. I’m sure you’ve seen posts on various media outlets by now, like this Kotaku post. There are already tournaments popping up on Reddit and fan sites. The official subreddit is already up over 30k subscribers and the game sets concurrent user records on an almost daily basis, the highest I’ve seen being 170,000 players. The combination of an even playing field with no paid items and ease of play makes it a future of sponsored Rocket League tournaments an easy sell.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about the game, but I do have a few things on my wish list. I’d love to see a few different modes of play, just to mix things up. Hearthstone recently added a Tavern Brawl mode with a new set of rules per week. What about something similar for Rocket League? I’m thinking things like low gravity, unlimited boost, etc. I’d also like to see some different, non-symmetrical arenas and savable configurations or loadouts for cars. The body style, decal, and toys on my blue team car doesn’t always mesh with my red team car. Being able to swap between a few loadouts would be nice.
Psyonix has given us an absolute masterpiece with Rocket League. It’s easy to pick up, hard to master, and just plain fun to play. The “just one more” factor is very strong here. The fact that they aren’t going to add any weapons or items that would throw off the game’s balance is great news. I’ll be playing Rocket League for the foreseeable future. You should be, too.