Rocket League is a game that combines cars with soccer and hockey developed and published by Psyonix in 2015 for Windows and Playstation 4. A year later it was ported to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, macOS, and Linux. On the other hand, in the case of these last two, the support for their online services was canceled in 2020.
It is not the first time that this American company from North Carolina experimented with this style of titles. In fact, Rocket League is a direct sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, an entry launched in 2008 for Playstation 3 that despite being almost identical, is much less polished than its successful continuation.
The title was well-received by critics, scoring over 8.5 out of 10. It was acclaimed for its addictive gameplay, stunning graphics, and perfectly executed online mode. Commercial success didn’t take long. The entry sold over 10 million copies by 2017. Due to its overwhelming numbers and the base of more than 40 million players that Psyonix had achieved by 2018, Epic Games, a company known for countless successes ranging from Unreal Tournament to Fortnite, decided to buy it in 2019.
Multiplayer oriented, but with a single-player option
This entry comes with a single-player mode, in which the player must face a very well optimized AI that can present a great challenge. On the other hand, there is also a training mode where you can strip away all the rules inherent to the game and customize them so that you can practice almost in any condition you want to try. In addition, there is an offline multiplayer mode, in which the split-screen option is enabled.
Despite all this, the game is oriented to online multiplayer. First of all, this mode presents the option to play 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, and even 4vs4. You can also choose between casual and competitive mode, the latter being determined in matchmaking that seeks opponents to be paired according to the level you have, which is obtained by playing more and more.
Friendly gameplay for new players, challenging for experienced gamers
As anticipated, Rocket League basically consists of playing a match of Soccer with cars. As opposed to the original sport, the field is much smaller, the ball is much bigger and the cars go much faster than humans, so the gameplay becomes frenetic and does not give room to relax. Likewise, the games last only five minutes with overtime in case there is a draw. This encourages the player to take advantage of every second, which further intensifies the accelerated nature of the title.
The installment is very friendly to new players, it’s simple and intuitive controls make it easy to adapt to the first games and enjoy them. On the other hand, Rocket League is also a clear example of a title that is easy to learn, but hard to master. As one progresses through the rounds, it becomes evident that skill and quick reactions to the events of the match are not enough to win. All this is overshadowed by the increasing number of teams that start to use strategies and positions on the field, so the need for order within the uncontrolled essence of the game begins to appear.
Regarding in-game resources, all the cars have intrinsic features that adapt them to this specific task. The special wheels of each racer allow him to stick to the walls and drive through them with great ease. Also, if you take enough speed, you can even get very close to the roof after having progressively advanced through the cylindrical borders of the track.
On the other hand, the vehicles also have other characteristics to give more power to the ball when hitting it, such as a turbo that gives a great amount of speed when used uninterruptedly and without obstacles. In addition, this speed boost is not only used for speed reasons or always concentrated on the ball, because even though there are no weapons to attack the other players, but a high-speed attack can also cause its total destruction. Similarly, taking out an enemy pilot does not remove him from the game, it just temporarily incapacitated him until he respawns a few seconds later. Finally, the cars come with a jump option, fundamental to give different effects to the ball at the moment of impact with it trying to make a score or prevent it
A graphic engine that needs no introduction
The graphic part of the game is nothing less than superb, it is beautifully designed in a futuristic environment that inserts the player in a digitalized dome made to represent the cylindrical walls that delimit corners of the track, also accessible by the runner. Likewise, the cars can be modified through the loot boxes that the player wins in different ways. In these cases, exclusively visual customizations are obtained that affect the colors or the general design that will be seen in the game.
Despite being surrounded by an endless number of people who acclaim the car gladiators at all times, a slightly reduced color palette can be seen in the background of the games, sunk in a very eye-catching opacity. This, together with the excess of machinery and industrialization that can also be seen, are resources normally used in futuristic environments only when it comes to hint that the game is set in a post-apocalyptic environment.
On the other hand, the colors of the cars are mostly fluorescent and striking. This is useful in the gameplay to distinguish them strongly among the multiple things that happen on the screen at the same time. Besides, they could be used as a plot resource to highlight the importance of this sport in a dystopian world drowned in machinery. This provides gamers with fond memories. Even though the objective of this entry is not to kill off the other racers, both the general Rocket League configuration, its backgrounds and the cars themselves share many similarities to the classic Playstation saga, Twisted Metal.
The graphic engine used for this title is the Unreal Engine 3. This is normally used to guarantee the best and most immersive 3D experience that can be found on the market. In addition, the graphics are adapted to reach an impressive 4K scale, so the level of detail is impressive. This system is used in other titles with amazing graphics, where the closest antecedent is the remake of the renowned Final Fantasy VII.
Every detail on the maps counts
Despite being a style of game in which there are usually not many maps because the character is pigeonholed in an enclosed space, this title manages to be very groundbreaking. Even within this limitation mentioned above, different map styles were created within the same futuristic theme. Some cases only present graphic distinctions, like a change of background in which instead of the classic public, the dome is surrounded by trees. In other examples, the modifications occur on the same field, where sometimes a soccer field or a metal field can be simulated.
To give even more diversity to the maps, each one can have different climatic variations, which far from being a stylistic alteration, affects the gameplay depending on which weather conditions are affecting the playground. This means that even the slightest change can make the gameplay experience totally different and the map feels like a new one.
Finally, there are other maps that are totally separated from the previous ones. They replace the soccer part of the match with a hockey or even basketball map. These choices completely affect the gameplay, since in the latter, for example, the classic goal is replaced by an elevated hoop that makes it even more difficult to score.
Servers with improvements, but still not perfect
Since its first appearance in 2015, the status of the servers went through several stages. Primarily, the title received a lot of complaints about flaws and long queue times, which was mentioned in all the reviews of the game, both professional and amateur. Also, today with servers scattered all over the world, updates are still focused on fixing various issues. Even though they no longer suffer from the problems they had in its release, there are still a lot of complaints with lag problems and a few bugs and glitches.
Regular updates and events
In addition to its constant updates in order to fix the servers, Rocket League provides players with a huge amount of content and DLCs on each one of them. The developers are constantly working on maps and skins for the cars, where they regularly make references to other franchises, like an adapted version of the Delorean from Back to the Future or Toretto’s Charger from The Fate of the Furious. They also release content on special dates and events. For example, on Halloween 2019, cars with the theme of the Stranger Things TV series appeared on the tracks as unique content for the occasion.
On the other hand, the great amount of ports that presents the game facilitates the possibility that more and more people can experience it. Finally, this is one of the few games that connects everyone regardless of where they play it due to its cross-platform play system.
In conclusion, Rocket League is not a perfect game. In the forum, there are still complaints from many players regarding the lag issue, which can ruin the experience for many people. With this inconvenience out of the way, it is a visually beautiful, entertaining, and competitive title. Its constant rewards encourage its users to keep playing. On the other hand, these are exclusively stylistic, so unlike other franchises such as MU Online or Hearthstone, all participants start on equal terms, and the title, instead of rewarding the time spent on the game, seems to be more focused in terms of practice and strategy.
The strongest point of the game is in the replay level it features. With a simple and entertaining formula, it presents multiple possibilities for casual players to enter not only in the world of Rocket League but in the world of video games. In addition, the most experienced gamers will spend a long time practicing, because the community of this saga has a lot of experience and is very competitive.
In short, Rocket League is a game in constant change. Entertaining, with an innovative idea and a very fresh gameplay, it presents itself as one of the best online multiplayer titles that the video game industry presents today. With the saga now in the hands of Epic Games, one can’t help but wonder what direction it may take over time, but with the company’s positive track record, you know you can look forward to it.