Beyond the Pixels: Rocket League

What do you get when you mix soccer, rocket-powered cars, hats, and antenna toppers?  You get Rocket League, one of the most popular games of the last year, developed and published by Psyonix.

Rocket-League-banner

Rocket League is actually technically a sequel to a previous Psyonix title, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, but I think you’ll agree that Rocket League is a much better title – or at least more wieldy.  In Rocket League, people control their vehicle and attempt to hit a soccer ball into the opponent’s’ goal.  Sounds simple, right?  Trust me – it’s not.  Physics is a thing, and Psyonix has done an incredible job at implementing physics into this game world.

 

While the game can be played by yourself against bots, where’s the fun in that?  The best matches are played against other people online, or occasionally with a friend in the same room as you since local multiplayer split-screen is an option.  Each match can be 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3.  Let me tell you that when you have 6 rocket-propelled vehicles flying around an arena trying to knock a ball into a goal things get pretty crazy.  Each individual match is only 5 minutes long, allowing for quick games that don’t require an entire afternoon of available play time.  But really, though – no one plays just one game.

Oh, and did I mention that the arena is entirely enclosed, you can drive on walls, and freestyle aerial goals are a thing?  Check out the gif below to see what I mean.

 

Rocket League offers both unranked and ranked gameplay and different game modes such as playing with a hockey puck or experimental maps.  Some of these experimental maps include a donut-shaped play space with goals on either side of a wedge in the circle, multiple goals for each team in the same arena, and more.  Ranked games provide a level of competition that many, including myself, find enjoyable, but thankfully is not required.  Additionally, basic communication with teammates is available even for those players without a keyboard.  Quick chat options like “Wow!”, “What a save!”, “I got it!”, and “Take the shot!” are mapped to the controller so that you can quickly give your teammate praise or instruction – obviously quite important for a team game.  Unfortunately, as with any online game, you may occasionally get people that find it amusing to sling homophobic, racist, and sexist remarks at you.  Mute options are available if this becomes too much to bear.

Rocket League also allows players to customize their vehicle, including fun cosmetic items like antenna toppers, hats, rocket booster cosmetics (such as confetti, dollars, rainbows, etc., instead of a typical jet of fire), and more.  Downloadable content, or small ‘expansions’ of the base game, include unique cars that you can’t obtain over time through gameplay, such as the Delorean from Back to the Future, the Batmobile, and vehicles from Psyonix’s first foray into rocket-powered soccer cars.

Delorean Delorean

Rocket League is an official eSport after being picked up by the Electronic Sports League and Major League Gaming.  Professional gamers race around, scoring goals in a virtual world with rocket-powered cars and make money for doing so.  I’m not disparaging this by any means – it’s just incredible to me that teens are able to now consider this a career goal just like any other sport, and many of them do.

Rocket League is available on PC, Playstation 4, and the XBox One.  Players on PC and the Playstation 4 have cross-platform play, allowing them to play against each other online, while the XBox One is currently unable to play with the rest (which is apparently changing soon).  While I can’t speak for the XBox One, on PC the wait for a match is never more than a minute or so.  However, since local multiplayer is an option, this game can be played at your library without having to hook up the console to the Internet and then worrying about inappropriate behavior online.

Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart are no longer your only options this summer for popular gaming tournaments, especially if your library doesn’t own a Wii or Wii U.  Pick up Rocket League and watch your teens get excited over the chance to play soccer with rocket-powered vehicles that wear funny hats and shoot hilarious rocket trails.  Happy gaming!

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