Rocket League Review: A Rocket Propelled Multiplayer Madhouse

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Rocket League is an online multiplayer soccer (read: football) game. The game is simple, all you have to do is hit the ball into your opponent’s goal, and if you do this more times than the other team, you win… but the similarities to actual soccer end there. Imagine strapping yourself into a rocket powered car, and using extreme physics to land incredible aerial shots, sound breaking boosts, and rocket fueled, edge-of-your-seat, overtime antics. This and more are all possible in Rocket League.

Rocket League, which launched on July 7th, 2015 by Psyonix, is classified as a Sports-Action game and is currently only available for the PC and PS4. This game is the successor to Psyonix’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars which came out in 2008. According to the official Psyonix description, Rocket League is:

A futuristic sports-action game that equips players with booster-rigged vehicles that can be crashed into balls for incredible goals or epic saves across multiple, highly-detailed arenas. Using an advanced physics system to simulate realistic interactions, Rocket League, relies on mass and momentum to give players a complete sense of intuitive controls in their unbelievable, high-octane re-imaging of association football!

My experience with Rocket League has been overwhelmingly positive, with only a trickle of negativity.

Gameplay

When you’re playing Rocket League, it’s a whole different experience from any other game you’ve played. It’s fast paced, heart pounding, and more exciting than actual sports. In the heat of a match, every player is trying to vy for their position relative to the ball, and cars run wild bumping wickedly into one another. Also, strategy is king. The best teams are organized and every member knows their place. Sometimes, the most important thing to do is to set up a shot for another team mate. Despite just being a game about cars playing football, I’ve already put in quite a few hours to Rocket League, and it has yet to get dull. I’m always learning new ways to manuver, new team strategies, how to effectively be a keeper or a striker, and when you add a group of friends to the mix, the fun is exponential. Not only can you just play online with friends, this game marks the return of couch co-op. You can have up to four people playing on the same screen at the same time.

Graphics

The graphics are very good. Very beautiful visuals, well crafted models, and an easy to use settings page. There’s really nothing else to say. The only gripes that can be had about the graphics is the fact that there is currently a bug that has been acknowledged by Psyonix that causes the menu screen to overheat some PS4s if left there for too long. They are currently working on a fix for this issue. A good thing about the graphics though is your ablity to cusomize your vehicle in thousands of ways. Every player’s vehicle is unique!

Competition in Rocket League can get pretty intense sometimes

Competition in Rocket League can get pretty intense sometimes

Matchmaking

One of the most important features of Rocket League is its matchmaking system. Being a primarily online game, it’s imperative that the Online Matchmaking be spot on to make sure that competition is close and fun. Psyonix did a pretty good job with their matchmaking… for the most part. Matchmaking in its current state is a little broken. Sometimes when searching for a match, you’ll get no results. Sometimes, you do eventually get results, but the skill levels are way off to the point where it’s an unfair match. And other times, it works flawlessly. Psyonix is currently working on fixing the current issues with bad servers. For now though, it’s still slightly broken. Another current issue with matchmaking is the fact that there are no penalties for leaving a ranked game in the middle of a match if it’s not going your way. Many times I’ve found players leaving ranked matches halfway through when their team is two down. This would be okay if they were replaced by an AI, (more on that later) but in ranked matches, as opposed to the regular playlists, players that leave aren’t replaced by an AI or even another player. The team that the sore loser left now has to slog through a match that is a wildly unfair 2v3 or 1v2.

Offline Season Mode

Contrary to the previous paragraph, there is an offline mode for Rocket League called Season Mode which reminds me of playing Madden. You put your team together, choose their colors, their emblem, their name, how many teams are in the running, and how many weeks the season is. Then, you and your two or three (depending on your preference) new AI buddies team up and take on an entire other team of AI at your chosen skill level. The AI are good enough that it feels as if you’re playing online with other real players.

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Rich vehicle customization menu with hundreds of options

Online AI

On that same note, the AI are sometimes too good. They’re so good they sometimes give teams an unfair advantage. I’ll be the first to admit that when an AI joins my team, I’m confident of a win, and when an AI joins the other team, I know I’m going to lose. When an AI player joins either team after one player leaves, the entire dynamic of the competition shifts toward the team with the AI on their side. From what I’ve seen, the developer has not yet addressed this issue.

Audio

The soundtrack, which, believe it or not, is an integral part of the game, is great. The soundtrack includes multiple artists and is upbeat and mostly electronic music which fits very well with the aesthetic of the game. They also decided to make the soundtrack available on most music streaming services, so if you really enjoy the soundtrack (like I do) then you can listen to it on your way to work!

Wrap-up

Currently, Rocket League has been one of the most fun games I’ve played this year, and I believe it has much potential in the E-Sports category. Despite some minor issues, when everything works correctly, it works amazingly. This game really is one of the new big contenders on the PC and PS4.

Rocket League is available for purchase on the PC for $20 through Steam, or free for PS+ subscribers on PlayStation 4.

***We were sent a review copy of Rocket League for the purposes of this review.
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