Rocket League Review: Rocket-Powered Car-Soccer
Competitive rocket-powered car-soccer. Mull over that sentence for a bit. Let your imagination run wild and try to picture what competitive rocket-powered car-soccer would look like. What you are imagining right now is exactly what Rocket League is. And it is just as awesome as you would expect.
To break down that description, Rocket League is a competitive, skill-based game where you control a car within an enclosed rectangular arena with two goals at either end. Your task is to knock a gigantic soccer ball into your opponents goal and to prevent your opponent from knocking the ball into yours. You do this by simply driving into the gigantic ball to hit it in that direction. Whichever side has scored the most goals wins. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s car-soccer.
The ‘rocket-powered’ part refers to your car’s ability to boost with a finite turbo meter that can be filled by driving over boost markers placed around the arena, as well as the fact that your car has the ability to jump. You can tap the jump button once to simply hop off the ground, however tapping it a second time with the control stick pushed in a direction will spin the car along that axis. Meaning you can tap the button to jump, then tap it again with the stick held backwards to perform a backflip/bicycle kick, or with the stick held to the left to perform a barrel roll which can be used to hit the ball with extra force.
Combining the jump with the boost allows your rocket-powered car to fly through the air for a short period; an advanced technique that is difficult to pull-off, but extremely satisfying when you get a solid hit on the ball as a result. This is just one example of the various advanced techniques that are possible in the game as a result of the complete control that you have over the vehicle. This complete control makes playing the game feel very intuitive, easy to pickup and so much fun. Rocket League really is a great example of the old adage ‘A minute to learn, a lifetime to master’.
The overarching structure of Rocket League is very barebones. Single player is limited to playing against AI opponents or going through the extensive training mode, whilst multiplayer is simply playing against other players online or locally. You can play ranked matches online, but apart from that there are no other game modes whatsoever. It is a little disappointing that there aren’t any other game modes available as there is plenty of potential here for something more, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see other game modes added as DLC further down the line.
Playing online and performing well (shots on goal, defending your goal etc.) will grant you XP that increases your overall player level. Every time you level up, you unlock a new cosmetic item that can be used to customise your vehicle. Car bodies, rims, goofy hats and rocket trails are just some of the customisation options that are available. Everything is purely cosmetic so there are no stat increases to be gained, which keeps everyone on an even playing field at all times (no pun intended).
Rocket League is a game of skill that is accessible enough for new players to jump right in and have a blast, whilst being deep enough for skilled players to rise to the top. The fact that it has already been approved for competitive play in the ESL (Electronic Sports League) is a testament to its nuance and far-reaching appeal. The lack of variety in game modes is a little disappointing, but the base game is just so much fun to play that it will be a long time before it starts to feel stale.
Final Say: Play It