PC • Playstation 4 • Xbox One • Nintendo Switch
Released July 7, 2015
PC • Playstation 4 • Xbox One • Nintendo Switch
Released July 7, 2015
Every now and then a game comes along that flies under the radar until release and then explodes on to the scene, demanding attention. Even more rarely, one of those game has so much value and mass appeal that it’s almost impossible to ignore. Not too long ago one of those games came along. Rocket League is a prime example of how well executed simplicity can still take the gaming scene by storm.
Several years ago Rocket League’s predecessor Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (known not much more easily as SARPBC) was kicking around and quite popular with a cult following. It was released through the Playstation Network in 2008 and, despite not getting much critical acclaim, obviously did well enough for Publisher Psyonix to figure it was worth a sequel in Rocket League and I for one am thankful the name is ever so slightly shorter.
For those of you who don’t know what Rocket League is all about, it’s actually pretty simple. Take some cars and strap rockets to them. Take 2-8 of these cars and toss them in to an arena with a giant soccer (sorry world outside of North America) ball and make them play soccer for 5 minutes. That’s essentially what you’re getting yourself in to with Rocket League but you’d be surprised just how much depth is to be had. Before we talk about all the sweet tricks and razzle dazzle you can pull off, let’s talk about what’s available to you game wise.
Start up Rocket League and you’ll be greeted by the main menu and some really sweet music (seriously the tracks are all pretty great). You’ve got a few game modes to choose from including: play online, exhibition, season, and training. You can also hop in to your garage, or check in on your replays and stats in extras. Play Online is pretty much what it sounds like and allows you and a friend or three (locally or online) to play in 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or the more than aptly name Chaos Mode 4v4. Of all the playlists only Chaos mode is without a ranked option. Exhibition mode allows you to play against AI alone or with a friend, or choose to ruin friendships in a versus match (can I just add here how happy I am to see a new multiplayer game get local co-op options). Season Mode lets you create your own team of 1-3 other AI and play against other AI controlled teams for ultimate supremacy which is honestly more challenging than you might think. Thankfully the Training Mode is incredibly useful and well put together setting you up with the basics and even some advanced maneuvers to take to the real pitch.
Before you start flailing around like a mechanized, rocket-powered Goldeen you should first choose which vehicle to flail around in and make it pretty! The garage holds all the cars you’ll unlock over time as well as a plethora of fancy accessories to make your own special rocket box including decals, paint, rocket trails (#$%& those who spam that damn rainbow), toppers (basically hats for cars), and antennas. You’ll unlock things in all of these categorize as you play and you can really make some pretty hilarious rides. Personally, I have a configuration I like to call “The Christmas Mexican.” I’ll let you use your imagination for that one…ok, ok here’s a sweet picture:
So you’ve done your time in the more than a little recommended Training Mode. You’ve even played a handful of exhibition games versus some AI and you have a winning record in your Season Mode. You’re feeling pretty good and decide to get your kicks online. You get in to a game with two other players and the timer starts the countdown to kickoff as you sit up in your chair and prepare to go to battle. Five minutes later a single tear rolls down your cheek as you are presented with the score screen. You lost 5-0 and touched the ball a total of three times resulting in a goal on your own net at least once. Congratulations you now have an appreciation for stuff like this:
I wouldn’t call Rocket League punishingly difficult but there is definitely a learning curve. The good news is that you’re unlikely to care when you suck it up because you’re having too much damn fun. There are few games that are as generally accessible as Rocket League that have as high a skill ceiling. Play this game for 30 hours and you’ll think you’re pretty good but then you’ll run in to someone who is better than you by a considerable margin and you’ll have a new benchmark to reach. You’ll go from waiting for the ball to come to you, to chasing it down aggressively. After that you’ll likely go from waiting for the ball to fall gracefully from the sky before attempting a hit to jump rocketing to the roof of the arena to meet that sucker half way. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience game play wise and is an absolute blast even at the worst of times.
From a technical standpoint the game is pretty spot on. After having played the game for over 100 hours now, the only thing I can truly pick out is that every now and then some strange hits or ball physics will crop up even without network/lag issues but both are rare occurrences. For a short while after the game launched there were a host of network issues due largely to the game doing infinitely better than they had anticipated but that’s long since cleared up. Odds are they only thing that will make you pull out your hair at this point is your teammates.
Graphically, Rocket League is surprisingly sharp and runs smoothly. There’s just enough madness going on to keep up with and not make your eyes bleed. Honestly, the pitch is most impressive as the grass looks fantastic (not that you’ll likely notice while rocketing around the arena). I don’t own it on PS4 but have played it on the system and noticed no major hitches during my play. I do believe performance might suffer a bit with 4v4 matches but it’s hard for me to say with what time I had with it. On the PC there are a great number of options to tweak to optimize for your system, though I do wish there was an option to turn grass off for lower end systems and streamers (it makes streaming the game without it looking like a poorly done mosaic a nightmare). It also gets my love for being one of those rare games you can actually alt-tab out and back in without accidentally starting Ragnarök. Sadly, it doesn’t get a cookie for having a master audio slider. WHY ISN’T THAT IN ALL GAMES?! I guess I’ll let it slide a bit since the aforementioned music is pretty awesome and the sound effects are solid. It is pretty hilarious to hear the cars infinitely change gears as you tear around though.
Rocket league presents one of the most universally fun gaming experiences I’ve had in a long while. It’s becoming more and more rare that I truly enjoy a game and this is one of those rare cases. Rocket League also provides incredible value with its surprisingly low $21.99 CAD price tag (or something like $0.10 USD). I would easily pay $50.00 for it and still feel like I was getting a deal. Psyonix has also released the Supersonic Fury DLC pack for $4.49 that includes a couple of new cars and bits and bobs to put on those cars. They have also released a new arena for free to everyone and have officially started ranked seasons. It seems Psyonix is really backing their game and it continues to grow the online community. I don’t usually like writing gushing reviews because it makes it seem like there’s more bias than usual but I can assure you that in this case Rocket League has earned it and should have a spot on your games to play list. If you haven’t already, you should play Rocket League.