Rocket League Review – Xbox One

A sequel to: Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars is as ridiculous as it sounds.

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Rocket League Match

When I first heard the buzz behind ‘Rocket League’, I almost avoided it entirely, as it sounded like another ‘League of Legends’ type game just from the title. After a bit more research, I learned it was a sequel to a popular Steam game ‘Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars‘, and after hearing that name I had to give it a whirl. Picking up the controller and taking my Octane car for a spin for the first time, I knew this game was going to stick. At it’s core, this game is perfectly summed up as “easy to play, hard to master”. Much to my wife’s dismay, I decided to try to master Rocket League, and hundreds of hours later, I’ve decided to write a review.

Gameplay:

Rocket League is explained easiest by saying: “It’s soccer but with rocket cars”. In reality though, the game has much more depth. In it’s traditional mode, you’re pitted with 2 other teammates in a 3v3 soccer battle. There are ‘boosts’ scattered throughout the map, which you can use to speed up your car, or propel your car into the air. The match is 5 minutes long, and whoever scores more goals wins the game.

Where the game excels is its wackiness mixed with realistic controls and team based play. Upon scoring your first goal, you’ll inevitably crack up with laughter as your car gets blown away in the goal explosion that follows. The game feels like a true sports game, however, you are in full control of your on-screen counterpart, and any mistakes you make are really you or your teammates fault. Each post-score replay is a lesson for you to get better. There will be times when you’re playing the game thinking “Man, I’ve got this, it’s finally clicking!”, then the next game you’ll get completely destroyed by your opponents.

My friends and I when we first started playing:

Rocket League can be whatever kind of game you want it to be: a party game, or a skill based, never-ending quest to rise up in competitive ranks. When I started playing it was on Friday nights after a few beers, but soon I was addicted to climbing the competitive ranking system and improving my game. There are silly modes like Rumble for party nights (think Mario Kart), and ranked matches to try to improve your official rank (I’m Platinum and probably will never get any higher).

Plays I can make now (albeit rarely), and this is NOTHING compared to the pros:

Rocket League also has an almost unprecedented amount of content. After completing a match there is a chance for items & cosmetics for your car to drop. Things like decals, paint, toppers, antennas, and more are yours to customize your car as you see fit. The developer, Psyonix, continues to add new game modes, free DLC, new cars, arenas, and car accessories to the game. They also have a paid ‘Crate Unlock‘ system which is essentially an online gambling loophole. The crate system allows you to purchase ‘keys’ to unlock a crate which gives you a ‘spin the wheel’ type chance for high value items like ‘Black Market Decals.’ Some see the crate system as a cash grab, however unlike ‘pay to win’ games, crate items hold no gameplay advantages and are purely cosmetic.

Controls:

Driving a Rocket League “Battle Car” is similar to other driving games: right trigger for gas, left for reverse, etc.  Using traditional driving control schemes allows just about anyone to jump in and play. You’ll want to get a feel for how quickly a full boost runs out, and making split second decisions to boost towards goal, or aerial up to block your opponent will become second nature. Braking, power sliding, and most importantly double jump/dodge are all things you’ll want to master before you start flying through the air, however. After a few matches, you’ll start to see how important aerial’s are, and how boost management can lead to a goal or a block.

The great thing about controls in rocket league is the possibilities are endless for creative ways to get around the map. Need to get up high to block a shot? Either use 80% of your boost to fly up OR climb a wall, hop off towards the ball and block it instead. Need to turn around to catch up to your opponent? Sure you could swerve around, or you could try the more advanced ‘half flip’ to get around with a bit more swag.

Here’s how good some of the pros are, can you even tell what’s going on here?

Graphics:

Rocket League looks and runs great on Xbox One, usually keeping up a constant 60fps (aside from the latest update – which Psyonix claims they are working on). Each car has a very different style, and you can customize your car with paint, decals, rocket boost trails, wheels, etc. The game really lets you make your car ‘your car’ and brings a very diverse range of cars to each match. My only question is: are there people in the cars?

The aesthetic of Rocket League resonates well with the type of gameplay it introduces. It’s slightly cartoony, but with realistic controls and physics. While the car design and sound effects might be realistic, it lets itself go wild with the color palette, decals, designs, boosts, and gameplay. This is a line they struggled to walk when deciding exactly what sort of tone they wanted to go for in the beginning, but have now nailed down brilliantly.

Rocket League’s “Rumble” mode, pure chaos!

Music/Sound:

The soundtrack consists of mostly Indie/Electric & EDM type tunes, it meshes well with the gameplay and visuals.  As a slight fan of the genre myself, many of the tunes have made their way into rotation on my Spotify playlists, with my favorite being Drunk Girl – Don’t Stop The Party (Feat. deanna). You can check out most of the music on Spotify here.

As far as sound design goes, they do a great job making every car sound like it’s own beast. Small details like revving your engines before going up for an aerial, and even squeaks on the floor in ‘Hoops mode are clever touches.

Summary:

Rocket League is a game that’s tough to explain, but upon playing it once, you’re hooked. The gameplay seems absurd at first but after a couple matches you will enter ‘just ONE more game’ territory. You can play it as a multiplayer party game, or try to rank all the way up to Grand Champion. The developer truly cares about the future of the game both as a party game and an eSport (recently inking a deal with NBC), and continues to pump more content into the game. For only $20 this is a game that won’t break the bank, but will provide endless hours of entertainment in whatever style of play you decide is for you.  

Pros: Incredibly entertaining gameplay, realistic physics, polished visuals and sound design. Free content constantly added. Emerging eSports scene.

Cons: Single player mode is lacking. Level of play can differ vastly between vets and beginners with no middle ground. The game might take over your life.

Rating: A

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Rating
9.5
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Andy
Movie & TV show addict. Retired Video Game addict who replaced the habit with a wife. Jay Cutler fanatic and lifelong supporter. My dog's name is Peanut (@peanutgrams) and he was named after a Chicago Bear. Scary movie jump-scare hater, creature-feature lover.

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