Rocket League – Making it to the playoffs in the first season

I’ve brought a new game into my stable and it’s one that I passed over the first time I saw it. I’m a big fan of racing games, but the idea of combining that with soccer just seemed a little too far out in left field for me. Sure, it looked amusing, but not quite amusing enough.

Jump ahead to the Steam Winter Sale and Rocket League is on sale and it has scores of reviews tacked on to it. With over 30,000 reviews it still has an Overwhelmingly Positive rating. How the hell can that be? Ok, let me have another look. And then let me have a real look by checking out some of the videos on YouTube. As with so many of these games, the only reason they’re good is because of the multiplayer, and as I’ve stated, I don’t play multiplayer.

However, quite a few reviews are about single player and the AI is apparently decent enough to make it worthwhile. Alright, fine, let me give this a try and see how it goes.

Turns out, Rocket League is actually pretty damn entertaining and may be one of the most ridiculous driving games I’ve ever played. (Except for maybe Zombie Driver)

The game is this, soccer with cars. If you’ve seen Top Gear, you’ve actually seen this game in action. You play in an enclosed arena where you can drive up and along the walls. The ball is a massive soccer ball that you need to put into the other team’s goal. You have 2 AI teammates and 3 AI opponents. As far as I can tell there are no illegal moves and no rules of any kind. Just get the ball in the goal.

And with that, the game is on. You drive and hit the ball to try and score. You can use turbo to gain bursts of speed and there is an option to jump to hit the ball up or perhaps bat it away. If you actually gain enough speed for long enough you can crash into and demolish your opponent, taking him out of play for a moment or two and giving you free access to the ball.

I have to say, Rocket League is ridiculously more fun than I thought it would be. I set the option to play a season of 27 games. Each game is broken down to 5 minutes. Over 3 hours later I was ready to play my first playoff game. And during those 3 hours I was cheering at the goals we scored and yelling at the goals scored on us. I was cheering at our victories and shaking my fist at the defeats. I was completely engrossed in trying to line up the ball to make a goal or getting in the right position to crush my opponent and send him flying out of the way. It’s actually an intense game that is a wild amount of fun.

Each round is 5 minutes and while you can pause, there is no way to reset the game, undo a move or use a flashback to rewind the clock. Whatever happens, happens and you have to accept the consequences. If you’re losing, you will just have to accept the defeat and try to do better next game. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

When you first start, steering feels a little strange as there is no drifting or sliding and the car feels like it’s riding on a rail. When you hit the brakes, you stop almost immediately. Steering is very sensitive and it takes a little while to get used it. There’s nothing wrong, it just doesn’t feel like you’re average racer. By the second game I was starting to get the hang of how to drive and how to drive while keeping my eye on the ball.

The AI players are reasonably good, but while they made some great plays and bumped in the ball from mid-field, they made some colossal mistakes as well such as driving the ball into the opposing goal. Not to mention they will crash you out of the way to get the ball. But, that is both the thrill, frustration and hilarity of the game. You really can’t anticipate what’s going to happen next and in some cases when the ball is in play, it’s a free for all. While I have no intentions of playing Online, I can see how this game can be outrageous with the right group of people. It would be more intense than any football game you’ve watched.

I played a 27 week season and made it all the way through to the playoffs. That’s pretty damn good for my first outing. However, my playoff game did not go according to plan and I lost 0-1, and that was the end of the season for me. Like I said, no resets, no retries, no do overs, better luck next time. Even though I lost, it was great. And for this next weekend, I will start a new season.

The game is simple and only takes a few minutes to learn. As you gain points for scoring goals, or saves, or attempting a shot, you get small achievements such as new paint jobs, decals, tires and goofy hat decorations. I’m not sure if the hats help or hinder, but they’re amusing.

Overall, Rocket League is a solid game that has a huge amount of replay value. The AI is decent and each game is different and unpredictable. It’s both exciting and frustrating and you’ll be watching every goal replay with a groan or a cheer.

The graphics are bright and smooth and it works fine on that little I7 3770K Shuttle box with 16GB of ram and the GTX 750 card running at full resolution on a 55inch 4K TV. The load times are quick and I didn’t see anything bog down to detract from the action. In the end, it worked great.

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out Rocket League, it looks a little strange, but there is a lot of excitement and action under the hood of that little game.

Rocket League on Steam

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