Rocket League ‘rockets’ ahead of competition


Jack Stornello, Staff Reporter

How does one broaden the appeal of soccer (or football, sue me) to a community of gamers who (generally) couldn’t care less for sports? This question has puzzled many a developer for quite a while, and from way out of left field, Psyonix has answered the call. Rocket League blindsided players a few months ago with an entirely unique and rather ridiculous spin on the sport of soccer.

Rocket League takes this globally popular sport and, like Spinal Tap, turns it up to eleven. The soccer field is given walls and a ceiling, forming a massive dome in which to play (all surfaces can be driven on). The cars that players control are wildly designed and outfitted with rocket boosters, allowing players to travel at insane speeds and even explode other players if collided with fast enough.

Furthermore, Psyonix supersizes the ball and essentially turns it into a live bomb. When either team scores, the ball detonates, sending all players near the goal flying. There is, however, but one main unfairly challenging mechanic for players to learn: aerials. This is when a player uses their boost to achieve liftoff, flies through the air like a freakin’ fighter jet, and hits the ball in midair. If players truly wish to be good at Rocket League, performing aerials must become second nature.

Playing Rocket League without being able to perform aerials is like playing Guitar Hero and not being able to hit the orange notes; one can still be good at the game, but can never be truly great.

Additionally, one of the best features of the game is not only its online play, but the fact that the online play is cross-platform. In plain English, that means that players on all consoles can play online together, whether they’re on PC or Playstation. By doing this, Psyonix eliminates the dilemma players are often faced with when they would like to play a certain game with their friend, but they each have different consoles. That’s the upside. The downside is not really a problem on the end of the developers (it’s relatively unavoidable when playing any game online). The problem comes in the form of the wide variety of players one can be either faced with or placed on a team with. They can range from considerably decent human beings all the way to the type of scum of the earth I’d expect to scrape off the bottom of my shoe. At this point in time, I’d like to regale you with a particular horror story: the tale of Benedict Arnold.

It was an average day. Nothing special about the day whatsoever, it was just a random day sometime in August (probably). All I wished to do on said day was enjoy a relaxing afternoon on a virtual soccer pitch, hitting a giant exploding ball around with a rocket-powered car (clearly just your simple, run-of-the-mill kind of day). Unfortunately for me, however, the odds were ever not in my favor (looking at you, Everdeen) and I happened to land in a doubles match with a player who could only be described as a disciple of Satan himself. Right out of the gate he decided that for whatever reason, this was a game he wanted to lose. His intent was made clear almost immediately as he wrote in the chat window something along the lines of “I’m a spy for the other team” as well as a very simple “I’m playing for blue team”.

This traitor, this Benedict Arnold of Rocket League did not (obviously) assist me or even just sit off on the sidelines, he actively tried to score on our own goal and even played goalie for the blue team for the better part of the match. Now, I’m no beginner at this game, but a three on one match is nigh impossible for almost any Rocket League player.

Furthermore, the fun didn’t even stop there, for Mr. Arnold (as I will forever refer to him) decided he might as well trash talk me in the chat window as well, as if I was the worst player for not being able to succeed in a match such as this. If only I had been able to suitably fight back against his verbal assault I might feel better about myself, but unfortunately the Playstation version of the game only allows a list of standard messages for one to choose from.

In a last, defiant effort I attempted to use such bland messages as “What a save!” and “Nice pass!” in as sarcastic a manner as possible, trying desperately to put up some sort of fight and keep my pride somewhat intact. All of this, however, is but one type of player one can encounter in this game.

Moving on, Rocket League seemingly set an unprecedented record time in becoming an eSport (video games played professionally by competitive teams in leagues and tournaments, exceedingly similar to usual sports). The game became an eSport within the first week of its release, with ESL (the Electronic Sports League, one of the biggest eSports leagues in the world) adding the game to their lineup three days post-launch.

On a related note, if one wishes to view the game being played at the highest caliber, look no further than a man named Kronovi. Kronovi is the number one player in the world, as officially stated by Psyonix themselves, who has been playing the game and its predecessor S.A.R.P.B.C. (Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, try saying that ten times fast) for six years straight. Be warned, though, because watching Kronovi play will generally only dishearten beginning players due to how inhumanly superior he is.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point that Rocket League’s reviews are overwhelmingly positive. GameSpot raved about it, scoring it a 9/10 and proclaiming that “the promising concept of combining two wonderful things,” soccer and cars, “is equally magnificent in execution.” On top of this, IGN praised the game with an 8/10 declaring it a “great, goofy, easy to learn and difficult to master” deliriously enjoyable experience. In every case, it most certainly appears that finally, finally, the gap between gamers and sports has been bridged, and it’s Psyonix and Rocket League that we have to thank.