A League of its Own?
Rocket League has been around for a while, but for those not familiar with the title let me explain. It’s a pretty unique title and one that is fairly easy to explain. You play football (Or should I say soccer to accommodate a the Americans reading?) in cars with a rocket booster attached to them. The boost mechanic is the “Rocket” and the football aspect of the title I assume supplies the “League”.
Just like the sport it imitates Rocket League is pretty easy to pick up and get into, but also offers a high skill level as evident by it’s eSport scene. The controls are simple, you can; accelerate, reverse, handbrake jump, jump again and boost. With this movepool it’s then onto the field to try your best to work with your team to get the ball in the back of the net and score the most goals in a five minute game of Car Football.
The Beautiful Game
The primary mode in Rocket League is 3v3 online matches and these are a great deal of fun whether playing with strangers or joining up with a friend locally or online. Three on each side feels like just the right amount to keep the game feeling hectic, but also not too out of control. Passing to teammates, boosting into opponents to destroy their vehicle (No red cards in this game) setting up goal opportunities, defending the goal, and last minute victories or losses make every game feel unique. The controls are exceptionally good and in general just controlling the vehicle is a great deal of fun as by simply driving around picking up items that refill your boost gauge I found it to manage to have a certain appeal. In a short amount of time I’ve already managed to sink a good amount of hours into this mode as the five minute time limit is the perfect amount of time to fall into the “Just one more game” category and before you realize it one more five minute match has turned into ten more and it’s well past your bedtime.
3v3 isn’t the only mode that Rocket League offers. It also sports a 2v2, 1v1 and 4v4 mode. Whilst I can’t say I greatly enjoyed the 1v1, it is nice to have it as an option if you have a score to settle with a certain person. 2V2 is great if you only have a friend with you locally and 4v4 might not feel quite as balanced as the standard 3v3 and is titled “Chaos” in the actual game, but it doesn’t really stand out as feeling totally bonkers and still requires skill. Then the game also offers ranked modes for 3v3, 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3.
More Than Just Football!?
Whilst football is the primary boast of Rocket League it also offers a number of other sports to keep you occupied. These being Dropshot, Rumble, Snow Day (Hockey), Hoops and Rocket Labs. Not all quite have the same amount of appeal and can feel a bit throwaway. In particular Snow Day all that is different in this mode is that the ball is replaced with a hockey puck. It’s not awful, but the physics for the puck seemed a little off to me and it just seemed to take away from it’s football counterpart and not add anything. Hoops was fun and was a 2v2 basketball match. Dropshot was very interesting could best be described as a game of deadly volleyball. Each team is trying to knock the ball over to the other side and each time it bounces on the ground it chips away at the floor until holes appear that the ball can fall through. Once you get the ball through the hole on your opponents sees you score a point and their turf resets to be destroyed again.
Finally the two other modes are Rumble which is football with weapons and Rocket Labs which is more more football, but this time on less than conventional pitches. You can’t blame them for sticking to what works and both modes work well. In Rumble you acquire a powerup every 10 seconds that will mix things ups and the variety of the maps in Rocket Labs will keep you interested.
Between the Action
Rocket League then offers a variety of things to observe and do when not online. I should take this time to mention that Rocket League does offer offline play and it does make a nice attempt to flesh out what it offers, it should be noted that this title is meant to be played online. In terms of what you can do offline apart from playing against AI opponents is check stats, watch replays and customize your car/banner. It seems like getting your hands on the best banners and items could take some time and some might be tempted to go for loot crates, but if you don’t want to spend cash on something purely cosmetic then slowly, but surely you’l get hold of that elusive banner. Also it’s worth noting that the Switch version comes with an exclusive Mario car and Samus gets her own vehicle as well.
To finish up and one of the most important things to mention about the title is how is the online? The service offered in Rocket League is smooth and works like a charm. Matchmaking is great and allows you to pick and choose multiple modes to search for at once if you aren’t sure what you want to play. Finally it also offer cross platform play with X1 and PC players. Whilst this doesn’t exactly greatly alter anything in the game, it is a nice feature as it means the online will always be populated whereas some Switch titles like Fast RMX seem to be dwindling in terms of active players.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Rocket League was provided by Psyonix for this Rocket League review.