Anyone who knows what types of games I’m interested in knows that racing games and sports games are not among them. So I didn’t really expect to like Rocket League all that much, knowing as little as I do about both of those genres of games. Luckily, Rocket League isn’t really in either of those genres, and is instead in a genre that I would christen “insane fast rocket cars with big sportsballs and stunts”, or, to put it more succinctly, “Soccar”.
Rocket League is deceptively simple. The controls are basic, the game modes and customization options are sparse, and the basic concept is pretty much right there once you start it up. It’s soccer. With cars. Fast cars. Like, stupid fast. And they can jump. And do flips and barrel rolls and boost. And blow each other up. All the while attempting to nudge, slam, or boost an oversized soccer ball into their opponent’s goal, while keeping it out of their own. And that’s it. But that’s not nearly the end of the fun.
As I said, Rocket League is deceptively simple. Yes, it’s true that your basic goal (pardon the pun) is always the same, and always in sight, but going about scoring is a beautiful game of maneuvering and drifting around the pitch, attempting to not only score your own goals, but thwart your opponent’s attempts at scoring theirs. And the defensive game is as much fun, if not more fun, than the offensive game. The thing about Rocket League is that it’s beautiful, not only in terms of its sharp graphics and textures (the grass is amazing!) but in terms of the moment-to-moment flow of the game. Anything can change in an instant, and pulling off a complex shot or blocking a goal at the last minute is one of the most rewarding feelings in any game I’ve ever played. That could be because it doesn’t happen often.
Rocket League has an unending learning curve, and while it’s always fun, it’s even more fun to see yourself getting better. Judging distances and speeds, mastering mid-air maneuvers, and getting better control of how to zip around the pitch are among the skills you’ll need to hone to play better, and the good news is that it’s incredibly simple to pick up, grab a party, and find a game (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 are all options). The connections to online players can be a bit dodgy at times, but that’s no problem, since the AI players are outstanding. In fact, playing with a couple of friends against AI players is a great way to improve your teamwork and get a better feel for the game. It can be chaotic at times, but nothing feels better than setting up a shot for a friend and it paying off.
It’s also a game of sacrifices. Boosting is important to get around the field, but if you find yourself without it, the ball can quickly change sides and leave you in the dust. It can be fun to demolish your opponents, but overall it’s only a minor hindrance toward your real goal. There were many a time when I wanted to pull off an awesome move and failed entirely before realizing that all I would have had to do to score was push it a little bit. That said, nothing beats a complex maneuver fully realized, and long-distance or aerial scores are some of the most rewarding things about Rocket League.
While there isn’t a lot of content to be had, there are a couple purely aesthetic customization options to unlock, and some solid splitscreen multiplayer options as well. It’s true that there’s only the one mode of play, but the fact that there’s always more to learn and another match to hop into keep it interesting, and it’s a whole lot of simple, stupid fun. Best sports game ever. 85/100.