Rocket League Review

Console on and controller in hand, the first time I booted Rocket League it felt as though I had been reunited with a long-lost friend. Looking around, almost everything fans love about its 2008 predecessor has been preserved, expanded, and given a fresh lick of paint. Although not exactly risky or adventurous, it’s the follow-up many have been dreaming of for years and now it’s finally here.

For those who’ve never heard of Rocket League or SARPBC before, the concept behind these games is a delightfully simple one. It’s basically football (or soccer) but with cars instead of players. However, what makes these cartoonish buggies particularly versatile is their ability to travel at high speed while also flipping and spinning in mid-air.

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This level of mobility is crucial as players leap and zoom around the pitch, tussling with one another as they attempt to blast a huge metallic ball into their opponents’ goal. Aside from a handy boost mechanic – powered by nodes and capsules left scattered around – that’s all there really is to Rocket League’s core gameplay.

Where this lack of complexity would usually hamstring many games, here it works as a boon. Instead of giving players more HUD elements and systems to pore over, Rocket League focuses almost exclusively on its physics-based gameplay. Whenever players collide, either with the ball or one another, there are a number of factors that determine the speed and trajectory of what (or who) is on the receiving end.

This single physics-based element gives each match a unique sense of unpredictability. That said, victory in Rocket Leagues will mostly come from skilled play. Although there is the occasional fluke shot, just as there is in real football, winning usually comes down to deft handling of the ball as well as teamwork (when not playing one-on-one, that is).

Easing players into the game is a series of quick and effective tutorials. These go through the basic controls while steadily introducing new tactics for you to experiment with. Of course, the best way to improve is by simply playing matches, against AI or real opponents online.

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Replacing SARPBC’s series of star-rated challenges, Rocket League offers Season Mode. Here players can assemble a custom made team, throwing down against a pool of AI teams as they aim for top spot on the league table. Where most players will hopefully be spending their time however is in multiplayer.

Again, there’s nothing fancy here. Whether alone or in a party, you can jump straight into regular or ranked online play. Although the servers have been fairly patchy during launch week, Psyonix has now more or less levelled out these issues. From my experience, as someone who has a fairly average internet connection, online gameplay was just as seamless as what it is against the AI, even when paired with gamers from Oceania and the US West Coast.

Up until now, simplicity has been Rocket League’s winning feature. However, there is one particular area of the game that has suffered as a result of Psyonix’s straightforward approach. One of things I, and many other fans, loved about SARPBC was its diverse stock of stadiums; each was different in shape and size, forcing players to alter their tactics accordingly. In Rocket League, however, there is zero variation to be had apart from aesthetics. Each of the current stadiums are of similar size and completely flat.

What’s Good:

  • Superb physics-based gameplay.
  • Loads to unlock.
  • Season Mode.
  • Simple yet effective design work throughout.

What’s Bad:

  • Current stadiums lack character.

Bar this one niggling issue, everything else about Rocket League is superb. Sure, Psyonix could have perhaps been a bit more daring yet the safe route has certainly paid off. With the foundation now set, hopefully the developer will start to experiment as it begins rolling out the first of its free content updates.

Score: 9/10

Version Tested: PS4

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38 Comments

  1. I found it quite frustrating…you should be able to keep the ball when you touch it and dribble so to speak,rather than it flying off into no man’s land..oh and you can easily score at least four goals straight away from kick off.Just accelerate for a bit then use the 35% of turbo you have.the ball always goes in
    After four or five goals the ball moves to an angle and you can’t score..

    • You can score just as easily from the angle as straight on. Once you figure out the sweet spot it bends in without fail. Makes the game on single player alarmingly easy.

  2. I’ve just put this in my library to download at a later date, hopefully when the servers are running more smoothly. Didn’t really interest me until I read your review.

  3. As a non PS+ member, the ridiculous price is an issue for me. The first game was a bargain, I seem to remember? It’ll clearly be in a sale sooner or later, and by then, hopefully the other issues will be fixed.

  4. For a long time I’ve grown more and more distant from my PlayStation (and video games in general), which is strange because they were such a huge interest to me for quite some time while in grade school. I bought a PS4, and I pay for PS+, but really haven’t ever thought that I’d gotten my money’s worth out of it.. until now.
    For such a simple game, Rocket League is exactly what games were for me from the beginning: fun with friends. And as if the online portion isn’t already fun enough, the fact that you can enjoy with multiple people on one console online just adds to the excitement. Passing the controller around like the good old days.
    What an absolute riot! Spectacular game!

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