Rocket League is Psyonix’s insane successor to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. While you may have passed on the developer’s last title, Rocket League is simply fun and a game competitive gamers can’t miss.
The easy pitch for Rocket League is that it’s essentially soccer (yes I’m saying soccer, we are not having this argument) but with cars. For some, this is an immediate hook, but it honestly doesn’t do the game justice. Rocket League’s core gameplay is an extremely fun, strategic, and unique experience that leaves its players addicted and wanting more.
Gameplay is undoubtedly the focus of Rocket League, but Psyonix still gives attention to the game’s presentation. When starting the game, the player is introduced to an excellent soundtrack, quick load times, and clean menus. The small stuff may go unnoticed but it is certainly appreciated as it adds to the overall quality of the game. When compared to other sports games, however, the primary feature missing is game commentary. Though Rocket League is not at all your traditional sports game, witty commentators could certainly make the game more enjoyable than it already is. One feature Rocket League does take from other competitive games is a simple instant replay system. After every goal, the camera takes a wider angle and follows the scorer to show how the goal was set up. It isn’t groundbreaking or new, but this allows the defenders to see their mistakes so they can adjust, while the offense gets to celebrate having another point on the board.
Rocket League can be played both single and multiplayer, but there are very notable differences between the two. Single player has two exclusive game modes. The first of which is a very helpful training mode. Rocket League can be a very difficult game to get the hang of, but training mode puts you through different scenarios to help you understand the physics of the game. The other single player only mode is season mode. Like normal matches in the game you are allowed to determine whether you want to play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4. On top of that, you can set the length of the season, number of playoff teams, skill of the AI, and even select your team name and logo. Fun Easter Egg: if you play against the Skyhawks team during the season you’ll notice a Top Gun reference where your opponents cars will be named Maverick, Goose, and Iceman. This is a fun mode to play through, but due to the play style of the AI, it makes me wish online seasons were available. AI teammates hold back singleplayer by not playing by the strategies you would see online. No matter what difficulty the game is set to, your team primarily chases the ball wherever it goes. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but the game is more fun and fast paced when players spread out and position themselves to receive passes and take acrobatic shots. So while season mode may be enjoyable, the online play makes Rocket League an exhilarating experience that stands out.
As mentioned before matches can be played 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4. When playing online these game modes have bigger differences the more players are on the field. First, 1v1’s are more intimate and slower paced games with very little room for error. Then, in 2v2 mode, you would ideally want to pair up with a friend. The standard mode is 3v3, which emphasizes the speed and positioning mentioned earlier. Lastly, 4v4 mode is also known as “chaos” and is exactly that in the best possible way. When there are fewer players on the field, it feels like a game of pure skill. When there more players, there is a wider array of roles to play out on the field. This means can focus on setting up your teammates by crossing the ball in front of your opponent’s goal box, or be the one by the goal ready to use the jump button to tip the ball in with a powerful front flip. You can also focus on defense by racking up fuel for the boost ability and using it to destroy opposing cars with high speed impacts and clearing the ball while they respawn. During 4v4 especially, players are even welcome to try being a full-time goalie. It is the most difficult play-style to master but can be the most useful. Together, these elements make Rocket League’s online matches dynamic and exciting events.
Making the game even more addictive is the level-up system. In Rocket League, Leveling not only makes matchmaking fair, it unlocks tons of cosmetic options for your car. The more you play, the more body styles you unlock along with paint jobs, tires, decals, toppers, antennas, and flags to go with them. This is especially rewarding because the more you unlock, the more the car becomes yours. When I decided on my car’s design, I never encountered another player with something similar. The myriad of options makes the each car’s design incredibly unique and personal.
Matchmaking’s only drawback is that the servers have occasionally been unreliable. However, Psyonix has been making efforts to fix this issue since the game’s release. Apart from that the game ran very well.
The Verdict: 8.4 out of 10
Rocket League is free as a part of this month’s Playstation Plus, and you would have to be crazy not to download it. The game may feel light on features, and have stale singleplayer in comparison to its multiplayer, but the core of the game is an absolute blast to play. It is a one of a kind, dynamic, intense, addicting, and fun game that is sure to have a dedicated community for a while.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.