If you were to describe Rocket League to someone, you’d simply say that it’s football (or as we say in Australia, soccer) with cars.
It’s a very simple idea but does it work?
To start off, you have several game modes to choose from. These are 1v1, 2v2 or 3v3 and these matches can be played as online multiplayer, offline multiplayer or you can play a single player season.
There’s a tutorial that I’d advise people to go through as it does ensure you get the best possible experience with the game. This instructs you on the basics of manoeuvring, goal keeping and how to be an effective striker.
As I don’t have too many friends and even less that have a PS4, I decided to undertake the 3v3 season on my own. This is a 27 match season and also includes playoffs.
The first thing that struck me about this game was the atmosphere in some of the stadiums. It does make you feel a sense of occasion with the roaring crowd, waiving flags and chanting. And the crowd even counts down when it’s just about to reach full-time. Unfortunately, there isn’t that many environments and some of them lack the atmosphere and have no crowds at all. In fact, there’s one where it looks like it’s in a hall of a train station.
However, that said, there’s a great deal of polish to each of these environments. Even down to the tyre tracks on the grass.
When the lights go green, the chaos starts. Six cars all rush towards a large football, hoping upon hope that there’ll get a lucky break down the other end of the pitch and score a goal. But in reality, it was 5 cars aiming for the ball and 1 car speeding straight passed it and slamming into the wall, this was my car. This game is all about timing. Timing when you speed towards the ball and timing when you try to jump.
The cars are very nimble and agile, which is exactly what you need in a chaotic game such as this. They can skid on a dime, jump (or double jump if you need it) and you can also race along the walls if you overshoot the ball, so naturally I spent the majority of the first few matches speeding along the wall.
There’s boost power-ups scattered on the pitches. Some give you a small percentage of boost while there are some that’ll fill the gauge up all the way. I found that boost was quite an important function to my game. If I missed the ball entirely, I could simply skid the car around, apply the boost and get back into the action very quickly.
As the games progressed, I gradually got the hang of it and started to assess the state of play a little better. I started to watch for opportunities to score, as my team mates hit the ball across the goal, I would be the one speeding in, jumping to hit the ball to score and get all the glory. I’d like to say that it worked most of the time, but I’d be lying. Most of the time I found myself missing the ball entirely and slamming into the back of the goal. But I did manage to pull it off on a few occasions and it was a great feeling.
With every goal that’s scored, you kick-off from a different position. From upfront as a striker or at the back as a goalkeeper. But from the view of the goalkeeper, the ball was directly ahead and it was too tempting to just accelerate down the pitch and punt the ball into the goal. Fortunately, this was the tactic that worked the majority of the time. Although I’d question if this tactic could be used on a higher difficulty setting or even with human opponents. Speaking of the AI, I was pleasantly surprised on how good it was. Even on the lowest setting, I found them to be quite competent and always looking to set up a goal or attempting to score.
At the end of each game, you’ll be given some equipment to customise your car. But these customisations are purely cosmetic and offer you no edge in further games. I actually like this decision, it means that all games are equal and no matter if you’re playing against a seasoned veteran or a beginner, you know that neither has the edge when it comes to the cars.
Having played through the season (and won the championship I might add), I found that I’d had some great fun but I didn’t feel that this was a game that screams as a one player game. This is a game that you play online or you can even harken back to the glory days of offline split-screen action with your friends. This is where a game like this would shine. It takes a fun idea and turns it into a polished party game. Many multiplayer games that you invite your mates to play at parties, you’ve already put in 50+ hours and it’s not much fun for your friends as you get win after win. But with this game, as much as you can put in many hours to discover the finer elements of the game, there’s still a lot of luck involved and this is were it makes it much more fun to play with friends.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Rocket League but I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. It’s a very polished and fun game. And when it’s free if you’re a Playstation Plus member, it’s definitely worth checking out.