Rocket League has been a massive hit as of late, and for good reason. It's one of those ideas that is the perfect elevator pitch: cars playing soccer.
From the onset, Rocket League seems absurdly simple. A game can have anywhere from two players to eight players, and each player plays a variant of a specific car, ranging from fast and slim cars to bulky and moderately fast cars—there really isn't that much of a difference between the two besides looks and weight—and the cars themselves are powered by presumably rocket fuel, where they literally fly across the map and do cool stunts that are called 'aerials'.
Aerials are when a player uses the gas or "rocket fuel" that is gathered around the pitch to increase their speed. When one jumps, you can use the gas to increase your distance, propelling your car through the air and performing moves that would otherwise be impossible to accomplish.
As a result, Rocket League is deceptively easy, although any halfway experienced gamer can pick up the concept and contribute within the course of a single game. Rocket League does not throw the player to the wolves, but rather allows the player to get acquainted with the controls at a leisurely pace if they so desire.
Each game lasts five minutes, with the option for overtime if the score is tied. Once the game is over, you rinse and repeat, with the allure primarily being unlocking new cars, collectibles, and improving your own skills.
Essentially, Rocket League is a rabbit hole, but a non-threatening one. With the inclusion of two playlists that ideally separates the casual players from the more skilled ones, there is a place for every level of gamer in Rocket League.
For players new to Rocket League, there are a series of tutorials that not only help newcomers learn the basics—even experts can practice their moves with the tutorial system that Psyonix has developed. The three different tutorials include goalie, striker, and aerial, which essentially sums up the things that every player needs to learn, or at the very least acclimatize themselves with.
The single player for Rocket League includes an Exhibition mode, where you play a single game against bots, and a Season mode, where you play against bots over the course of a season, which has players choose their own symbol and name on their hopeful course to victory. It is competent if nothing special, but it is something that is nice to have. Not everyone wants to play online or jump online immediately, and the single player modes are a good testing ground for newcomers.
The bots themselves are surprisingly decent. This is to the point that if casual online players finds themselves with a bot on their team, they usually end up winning because the bot is almost always better then the actual player that it replaced. This needs to be fixed, as this reviewer shouldn't be able to just sit back in the net and watch as the AI literally wins the game by itself.
As seen in the screenshots, the graphics are good, nothing outstanding. The game is bright and colorful, although once in a while there were some color schemes that make it look as though you have one more player on your team then there should. This is because with the color shading you may find a player looking almost identical to your team, even though it is red versus blue, leading to some moments of confusion when your "teammate" tries to score on you.
Soundwise, Rocket League does the job. The crowd oohs and aahs at the right moments, the cars sound like cars, and the frequent explosions are both highly entertaining and versatile, sounding as though a bomb just dropped and instantly drawing everyone's attention to the wreckage of someone's late rocket-powered car. There is a soundtrack for the title, but it is so negligible that Psyonix shouldn't have even bothered—the only real down point to the game's sound design.
Overall, the online component is well done, if a little spotty. Communication can be conducted either through the directional pad, which spouts out things in the chat like "defending!" so that you can let your team know what you are planning, as well as including regular typing on the keyboard if you feel the need to be more direct. Rocket League also features in-game voice chat. There is the very occasional slowdown regarding online lag, but over the course of a hundred or so games it only cropped up enough for it to deserve a brief mention.
In terms of online bugs, there are only a few that this reviewer has come across. The most notable among them being that once in a while the opposing player goes invisible, resulting in your team literally facing an opponent that they can't see or defend against—the static username being the only visible indication that you are facing a full team.
Besides that major bug and a few minor ones, the game is relatively polished. The online player count is extremely high at the moment as well, with around 100,000 players online at any given time.
For those looking for a party game or for something to mindlessly increase their skills with, this title from Psyonix is a great choice.
This game was bought by the reviewer and reviewed on the PC platform.