- Released: 2017 (2015 when originally on PC and PS4)
- Played on: Nintendo Switch
- Also available on: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4
- Time to get into: 5 Minutes
- Time to complete: 10 Hours, but that’s not really the point!
- Multiplayer: Yes, local and online
Every now and again someone comes along and does something so simple so well, that the rest are left to sit about wondering how they didn’t manage to nail it. Psyonix‘s Rocket League is the best example of this in gaming in recent times. The set up seems so obvious – it’s football with cars (or soccer, depending on where you are in the world!) – but this simplicity of concept hides a rock solid and surprisingly complex video game that is fun regardless of your set up, skill level or commitment. It truly is a game for everyone.
Can I kick it?
From my own experience and from observing others the chances are for your first couple games of Rocket League you will have very little clue what is going on! Maybe once or twice the ball hits your car but essentially you are just driving around, very much on the fringes of the match taking place around you. This is fine, because you are just at the start of a long journey of learning, piece by piece, the intricacies that are built around the basic concept of bunting the ball into the goal. One by one the ideas of driving, boosting, jumping, collecting boost pickups, double jumping etc etc will slot into place in your head and eventually become second nature. All of these aspects work brilliantly together and thankfully Rocket League gives you plenty of space to play and enjoy at whatever stage you are at. The offline ‘Season‘ mode gives you a safe playground to develop your skills early on. To start with it’ll be a surprise when you win on Rookie difficulty but eventually it’ll be a surprise when you lose on All-Star. By then you’ll be more than ready to start getting into the real meat of this experience: online matches.
Yes, you can
Rocket League‘s wonderfully smooth and rewarding difficulty curve will only continue when you venture online to play against real people. Further nuances come out of the woodwork; the best defensive lines to take, timing, rocket flying and more. The online experience itself is also second to none. The matches are as solid as your internet connection, easy to get into and you have plenty of options of how you want to play. Really, it puts to shame the online offerings of many blockbuster games. Aside from the standard game (‘Soccar‘!) you can also indulge in some Hoops (basketball with cars) or Snow Day (ice hockey with cars), a game called Dropshot, that is almost impossible to explain to the uninitiated – but it’s fantastic, and more. And most of these different modes you can play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4. 4v4 is literally called ‘Chaos‘ in the game, and the name is apt! All of this can be played offline, online casual or online competitive. No matter what you want out of Rocket League – it has it.
Go on then
As if a fantastic, deep video game with options to make sure everyone can enjoy it the way the like wasn’t enough, Rocket League completes the circle with a little sprinkling of magic – customisation. Firstly there is the simple choice of which ‘battle car’ you will choose. I have previously gone through a few of mine and The Boy‘s favourites (here) but once again, there will be something for everyone. There are a number of standard cars, one or two that are unique to the format you are playing on (for example Xbox One has a UNSC Warthog, Switch has Mario and Luigi cars etc) and quite a number that are available as additional purchases. None of the cars are technically better than the others, but you’ll want to choose one that matches your play style. After that you can customise the paint job, things to put on it, the look and sound of the boost and much more. Each type has a few available at the start and over time you unlock more and more as you play. Scoring goals and winning matches is already super rewarding and these unlockables are the icing on the cake.
There is basically nothing wrong with Rocket League at all! The only thing holding it back from getting towards the summit of my All Time Top Games List is that it is relatively narrow in scope – it’s all about driving a car into a huge ball. But that scope isn’t so small that it is restrictive and the focus on it has given us a flawless game that is deserving of being played by every gamer. Not only that, but it is a bargain as well! Just get it, end of.