Close your eyes. Picture an enormous enclosed soccer field. Now imagine the players are rocket powered cars. This is Rocket League.
Silly? Most certainly. Stupid? To a degree. But Rocket League’s bombastic rendition of the world’s most popular sport contains all the strategy, nuance, and flair players have come to expect from the most demanding simulation games. Deceptively simple and delightfully ridiculous, Rocket League’s short five minute matches are easily some of the most fun experiences you’ll find this generation. Making it one of the best games of 2015.
As stated above, the premise borrows much from the sport of Soccer, or Football as it’s known in Paris. Standard matches feature teams of three cars attempting to knock a gigantic ball through a large goal. Unlike Soccer, there aren’t any penalties, meaning players are free to use every part of their vehicle to pass, shoot, or block. Driving controls stay traditional with gas and reverse placed on each trigger and a brake button for tighter turns. It’s these familiar components that make Rocket League so inviting to a wide range of players.
But it’s the boost and double jump abilities that transform Rocket League from a curiously enjoyable game into a staggeringly addictive title. Jumping and double jumping play a pivotal role in controlling the direction of the ball. While airborne, players can rotate their vehicle in four directions or vertically shift left and right with a double jump. Perfecting jumps is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting thanks to Rocket League’s excellent physics engine. Successfully slapping away an incoming goal and bicycle kicking the ball into the net never loses it’s satisfying punch.
To truly become a Rocket League MVP requires proficient rocket boosting and acrobatic control. In each wing of the field, a number of regeneration points refill your boost in small increments or full capacity. While driving faster and harder shots are obvious advantages, boosting also enables players to temporarily destroy their opponent’s cars after a certain speed is reached. Cars can even take to the skies for aggressive passes and shots. The acrobatic system is the most demanding element in Rocket League, requiring hours of practice. Thankfully the robust tutorial mode allows anyone with enough patience to overcome the daunting learning curve.
All of this comes together in the consistently challenging and rewarding bite sized online matches. Before long, players go from individually chasing the ball into a strategically bouncing the ball from the domes transparent walls for an ideal shot. Rocket League rewards players with points for successful passes, goals and maneuvers, encouraging players to work together. While the single player exhibition and season mode don’t provide any unique features, they offer an additional area for practicing. But the real focus of Rocket League is in it’s ranked and unranked online play. Unlockable car models, paint jobs, and antennas reward winners and losers alike to customize their vehicles into sleek or goofy competitors.
Rocket League perfectly executes it’s over the top concept despite a few framerate issues. Yes, it’s just as dumb as it sounds, but it’s emphasis on strategy and teamwork make it one of the best sports games in year. By combining these disparate yet familiar elements, Psyonix have succeeded in creating an addictive and unique game that’s a must play for any multiplayer fan. A strong recommend.