Welcome to part five of the Seven Gaming Heroes series where this week I am looking at arguably one of the most addictive games on consoles today, Rocket League. There will be many of you who have played this title already as it was massively successful at launch, but as it released nearly five years ago, there will also be some who it has entirely passed by until this point.
Rocket League was developed by Psyonix, the same team who made the incredibly titled ‘Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars’ for Playstation 3, and released exclusively on Playstation 4 and Steam at first with support being added for Xbox One seven months later. Rocket League was also ported to the Nintendo Switch in November 2017.
Those who played Rocket League back in its early days will remember that the main reason for its incredible breakout success was due to the fact it was free for its debut month as it was the headline title for Playstation Plus in July 2015. This bold move completely paid off for Sony and Psyonix and secured millions of players straight out of the gate along with a devoted fanbase who still continue to support Rocket League and its updates to this day.
Rocket League’s core gameplay consists of controlling your car in a game of football, either solo in a one on one match or on a team of up to three other players against an opposing team of the same size. The objective, as it is in football, is to direct the ball into your opponents goal while stopping the opposing team from scoring in your goal. Don’t worry about losing sight of the ball as it is bigger than your car, and the camera angles that the game utilises ensures it is always easy to keep track of it, as well as of your team mates and the opposing players. Scattered across the pitch are orange orbs that give your car the ability to briefly boost at your command. Certain orbs will fill your boost bar to full whereas the more common ones will only fill it partly. These are still helpful as even the shortest boost at the right moment can secure a goal that will win the game for your team.
One of the best things about Rocket League is the range of hundreds of cosmetics you can unlock to customise your vehicle. Anything from blasting jets of multi-coloured bubbles out the exhaust while boosting to a selection of comedic hats that sit atop your car, the potential is there for you to make your car completely unique. I used the bubbles cosmetic on my car when playing and it never failed to put the biggest grin on my face.
All unlockables within Rocket League are solely cosmetic, so aside from a natural skill acquired from playing it more, you cannot gain or pay for an advantage over other players. Rocket League’s visuals are consistently great and lend a fun cartoony aesthetic to the gameplay and the bright colours and particle effects, particularly when boosting, help it maintain its frantic feeling gameplay and strong replayability factor.
Rocket League has received continuous support from its development team over the years since its release with new game modes added to keep the formula fresh and exciting for its player base. New sports have been added to its lineup with the addition of ice hockey, basketball and several others, along with new cars, paint jobs and cosmetics to boost its already huge catalogue that players can unlock as they play.
It is worth applauding Psyonix for the fact they could have easily implemented a microtransaction store within Rocket League and there may have been next to no backlash at all considering the game released in 2015 when we weren’t so reactionary to such a thing as we are now. Anything from beginning a match with a full boost bar to upgrading different stats about your car like top speed or acceleration (none of which is actually present in the game as all cars are of the same spec), could easily have had a price tag attached. It would be great if more game developers could learn from the fact that Rocket League is completely bereft of these unwanted features when it would have been very easy for Psyonix to add them at the detriment of the player base.
Easy to learn but hard to master mechanics, combined with the fact that every match lasts just five minutes, keeps players coming back again and again with a ‘just one more go’ mentality that has seen Rocket League achieve all the success that it deserves.
Thank you for reading this weeks entry to my Seven Gaming Heroes. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MaliceVER if you have recently played Rocket League for the first time, if it is a game you often return to, or anything else in between. I’ll be back next week with part six to talk about Absolute Drift, where style is more important than speed, and so I will speak to you then.