THIS ARTICLE WAS SUBMITTED BY OUR OWN BADASS GAME CRITIC, TRAVIS M.
Rocket League is the successor or sequel to a last gen game so horribly named Super-Sonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this based on the title and the tutorial was so slow moving that I never even reached the gameplay before I gave up on it. Thank goodness I didn’t make that mistake with Rocket League. Rocket League was a free game for the month of July for Playstation Plus members. Deciding that I had enough of the tutorial from the previous game, I jumped right in. I would recommend the same approach to anyone picking up this game for the first time because if you’ve played ANY racer, you have enough of a handle on how to control your RC-type vehicle in Rocket League to jump into your first match. R2 to accelerate and left stick to steer. This is all you need to be hooked from the first go. There is are obviously more to it, but that’s the beauty. Rocket League nails so many video game formulas right on the head that it can become hours of endless matches. The first formula being easy to access, difficult to master.
In a shell, Rocket League is a soccer game with an oversized ball and undersized RC cars to put said ball into the opponent’s goal. The arenas are set up in a way that the action only stops in the event of a score, with recessed goals and quarter pipe sidelines and baselines the ball is always in play. You have various moves to help you navigate the ball from front flips to barrel rolls and even bicycle hits. The physics of Rocket League, with the help of the Unreal Engine, are so finely tuned that executing a perfect hit on the ball is not all that difficult, yet rewarding. Get reckless, and you can miss the ball entirely. It quickly becomes a game of angles and physics which makes me think of why I enjoy billiards, Peggle, and Portal so much.
Visuals in the game are excellent. The arenas are vast and stunning. The grass moves like each individual blade was placed in a specific spot. There are visual aids that not only look good but serve purpose. The ball will move with tracers indicating not only direction, but rotation, speed and which team applied the hit. Push the ball through the plain of the goal and the portion inside looks like it’s being absorbed by white noise in a TV. Once all the way through, the ball will explode, sending nearby cars careening back toward mid-field. This is followed by a replay which takes great angles, smartly includes assists if applicable and slow-mo’s for the shot on goal.
Speaking of shot on goal, any shot on goal if missed will net you some XP. You’ll earn XP most obviously for goals but another way that Rocket League make you feel rewarded is for showing you XP earned for things like saves, clearing the ball from in front of you goal, assists, centering the ball in front of your opponents goal, and even pulling cool maneuvers such as bicycle hits and aerial hits. XP is only used to unlock visual upgrades to make your car uniquely yours. There are no tangible advantages such as speed, boost, jump height, which can be upgraded. The physics of every car you can choose which range from a lambo to Sweetooth’s ice cream truck all behave the same. This makes the game very much about my skill vs your skill with nothing regarding the time you put in equating to a “stats” based advantage. This also lends to the first formula, in keeping online matches fun for beginners.
Matches can be 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4. 4v4 being most appropriately named “CHAOS”. Online bugs have been mostly worked out with the use of dedicated servers. Rocket League is also cross-platform/cross-online with PC via PSYNET. This helps to keep the servers full and matches going. 16 quick access statements help you communicate with your team, or both teams on the fly. From “I got it” to “#@!$”, you can tell your team or the opponent “Nice shot” or “Great Pass”. Bots will drop in seamlessly when a player leaves if another player is not immediately found, which you should pay attention to. You can play online aggressively or conservatively, but the best strategy is to assess your opponent’s skill level first keeping an eye on the tactics the employ and/or their accuracy. From there you can guard like hell or play with reckless abandon, but once bots drop in, keep in mind that robot’s methods may vary but they are always are accurate.
Easy to pick up, difficult to master, awesome visuals, rewarding system and gameplay, responsive controls and physics, and functional online all make Rocket League an enjoyable time that’s tough to put down.