Release date: July 7, 2015
Designer: Corey Davis
Engine: Unreal Engine
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
“Everything is better with rocket powered vehicles.”
What is Rocket League?
Rocket league is a sequel to the playstation 3 game “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars” (that is certainly a mouthful) released by Psyonix on October 9, 2008. Luckily for the players, the new name “Rocket League” is much easier to say and find (can you imagine searching for the original game on the current PlayStation store? With that keyboard?). Rocket League is a mixture of driving and soccer although they have since introduced a basketball mode and a hockey mode. The goal of this game is to to smack the ball/puck with your chosen vehicle into the opponent’s goal. The matches are quick, lasting about 5 minutes in time, plus the delays from goal scoring.
The base game includes 11 usable vehicles, although this number has since been inflated through DLC and the crate system. Each vehicle offers slightly different gameplay mechanics. For example, the larger vehicles will turn a bit wider, fly much slower and, require more turbo to reach maximum speed. However, this is offset by their enlarged hitbox making them ideal for newer players who are struggling to hit the ball.
Besides the selection of vehicles this game really shines in its tight mechanics and multitude of gameplay features. Each game is 5 minutes in length in which the team with the most goals at the end are the winners. This game features the ability to play anything from 1v1 to 4v4 (which is total chaos). For new players, you are greeted with some of the most fluid gameplay I have ever experienced. Each button press feels incredibly responsive and I almost never find myself blaming a bad play on the game’s mechanics.
For the more advanced players, this game features some very clever and well implemented techniques to take your game to the next level. Techniques like flying that involve jumping, rotating and using the right amount of turbo to fly into the sky and smack the ball. Unlike traditional sports games, Rocket League games do not have any rules that players must follow (offside.. etc.. ) making it easier to jump right in and get started. This is a very important feature in a game like Rocket League where the mechanics can be difficult to master. Having to juggle a new set of rules and mechanics for new players could have been very off putting.
For players looking to learn and discover all of the techniques that this game has to offer can use the training arena. In training the players have unlimited turbo and can do and practice as they please. Overall, this game is as simple or as complex and you make it. It is one of the best pick up and play games that I have ever owned.
Graphics and Performance
As mentioned before, Rocket League is one of the most fluid games I have played in recent memory. The graphics are simple but crisp and beautiful on all platforms. While I cannot speak on the XBOX version of the game, on my PS4 Pro this game runs buttery smooth with little to no noticeable framerate dips.
Multiplayer and Competitive Play
Rocket League can be played with friends, with others online, against bots or, any combination of those. For those interested in a more competitive atmosphere Rocket League has you covered! Players can compete against others in competitive (ranked) matches in 1v1-3v3. You can play with friends or use the built in matchmaking system as with all of rocket leagues online game modes. However, due to the nature of this game mode it is recommended that players be well versed in Rocket League before venturing into the ranked leagues. In addition, unlike normal online play, in competitive if a player leaves midway that player is not replaced by a bot and that team is forced to play a man down (Red Card!).
In addition to each of vehicle players can also customize their vehicles to make them more personal. This includes ‘toppers’ items that are placed on top of the vehicle for all to see (think Hats and other coverings) , antennas , wheels, skins + paint jobs and rocket trails (what comes out of your vehicle when you boost). This game boasts an impressive amount of collectable to customize your vehicle.
For as much as I love Rocket League it is not without issues. One of the big issues is match balancing. Due to the nature of progression in this game, if a player leaves mid match they are not awarded any experience and will not rank up. This leads to many people leaving towards the end of the match just to maintain a lower rank so they are matched up against players who are legitimately that rank. This leads to terribly unbalanced matches sometimes. IN addition, when a player leaves mid match (in non competitive) that player is replaced by an A.I until a new player is found. This is great except that the transition between players leaving and joining mid match causes a massive lag spike rendering the game unplayable for a second or two for some players. Lastly, although this game has many collectibles much of them are hidden within loot crates that can only be opened by spending real money on keys. Now, this is slightly made better by the trading mechanic but I would love to see a way to earn keys in game.
Rocket League is an impressive game with a lot of unique features, tight mechanics and buttery smooth gameplay. Although it has some minor issues these are not enough to drag down this wonderful game that is (rightfully so) exploding into the esports scene. I would recommend picking this game up as it is super cheap.. you will not regret it!