By Michael Battista
Sometimes, it’s the simplest ideas that are the most entertaining.
“Rocket League,” the PlayStation 4- and PC-exclusive game since the summer of 2015, was released for Xbox One on Wednesday, Feb. 17. It has already become one of my top games of the year.
The entertaining game drops you into an arena with two teams where you take control of RC cars and play soccer.
The genius of “Rocket League” is its simple-to-play form. The right trigger accelerates, the left trigger breaks, the control stick steers the car, holding the “B” button uses up the limited yet easily-refillable boost and the “A” button lets the car jump into the air. You control the car and drive it into a ball in an attempt to get it into the opposing team’s net within the time limit.
These basic controls are one of the reasons why “Rocket League” is so fun. It’s simple enough for someone who has never played to jump right in because of its easy-to-grasp concept. If you invest time into the game, however, you will learn more advanced plays and techniques just from practicing.
There is no story to the game, although some people have tried to put together bits and pieces about its world and setting. The only game modes are season play, exhibition games and online play.
Season play puts the player on a team of three, with two artificially-intelligent (AI) players. You pick your team’s logo, name and even what type of car your teammates operate. From there, you can choose the number of games and then play against other AI-based teams whose difficulty is also controlled, all in an effort to make it to the playoffs and win the season trophy. It’s kind of pointless, but is definitely great practice on the lower difficulties. If you want a real test, trying to make it to the playoffs against an All-Star level AI is a seriously fun challenge.
Exhibition is just what it sounds like, with the player going against AI in a match type that they control. The number of AI, their difficulty, the stadium and other factors can be edited. It makes for a great way to practice against tougher opponents.
The main meat of the game is the online play. While AI can be challenging, nothing compares to playing against other human beings. Once again, you can search for games ranging from one-on-one to four-on-four, with one mode changing the game up entirely by replacing the ball with a hockey puck and the grass with ice.
The games can range from quick blow-outs to stressful overtime showdowns, just like in real soccer. Each game is a different experience — you can have a team that just connects with one another, whether it be with friends or strangers, or you can be in a zero-chemistry situation where you all just ram your car into the ball hoping it goes into the goal.
However, with any game that has a thriving online community, server issues can be an annoyance. During the first few weeks, the game’s servers were unreliable, taking minutes to connect to games, with some never actually connecting. Other times, the games would be stopped mid-match due to players being kicked out. As time has gone on, these issues have died down, but it’s worth mentioning that online play isn’t always perfect.
In my time playing, no matter what game mode I was in, the frame rate never dipped below 60 frames per second — and if it did, it was hardly noticeable. The matches run smoothly, so long as everyone’s connection is fine, which means the match’s momentum never slows.
Regardless of the final score, you earn experience at the end of every game, no matter the mode or type, and you unlock new car modifications. These modifications range from different paint types, hats and flags to decorate your car with to new car bodies entirely. While the type of car you use doesn’t matter (no one body is better than another), the sheer amount of customization allows players to truly stand out.
This is a game that will suck you in for countless hours. It’s fun, easy and has the potential of becoming a competitor in the eSports scene. With a recent Microsoft announcement that cross video game platform play would be coming soon, PS4 vs. Xbox One “Rocket League” is the perfect first test.