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Rocket League Preview

by Justin Nation - July 6, 2017, 3:38 pm PDT
Total comments: 7

At long last this indie darling, that is still going very strong 2 full years after its initial release, is on its way to the Switch. Get the lowdown on what it's all about.

Of all the upcoming indie titles coming to the Nintendo Switch there’s none that I’m more genuinely excited for than Rocket League. Not so much for the opportunity to play it, my current logged game time for it on Steam stands at 491 hours, but for the opportunity for more people to be able to share in what I consider to be my favorite competitive “sports” game ever.

At its simplest level the game sounds a bit silly: rocket-powered cars, playing soccer (or some variant) in a closed arena. Uhm… yeah. Well, I’m here to tell you that once you get your first goal off the wall or manage to make a daring last-second save you may just get hooked in. Getting started can be a challenge. Figuring out whether you want to play with your eyes ahead or on the ball, learning to “feel” where the goal is, and working to develop your aerial skills are all important. Nevertheless, there’s one thing probably more important than any other: learning to figure out and play to where the ball is or will be going instead of simply chasing it. (Damn you crowders and ball chasers; don’t be one of these people!)

Getting past technique there are a pretty crazy variety of ways to play, and the great news is that on a periodic basis Psyonix has continued to add new modes. Not all of them are great or popular, but I appreciate the continued effort they’ve put into the game a good 2 years in and there’s no sign of them stopping. First you have the standard matches, whether played casually or ranked, going from 1 v 1 up to 3 v 3. These are the bread and butter matches and where I personally (in ranked, typically 3 v 3) spend the majority of my time. In addition there’s a 4 v 4 and aptly-named Chaos mode, Hoops mode (somewhat as silly as the one in ARMS and I’ve never had much fun with it), Snow Day mode (replace the ball with a hockey puck), Rumble mode (my favorite alternative mode with a variety of ridiculous power-ups to spice the game up), and the newest mode called Dropshot (the arena floor for either team can be damaged by the ball, eventually falling away to make new goals). Bottom line, there’s probably something for everyone and you can keep things from getting stale pretty easily.

There is also a single-player Season mode, assuming it would come to the Switch as well, and it does a fair job of putting you up against bots that can play a generally good game. This is the place to hone your skills a bit after hitting the basic Training Mode that will cover fundamentals. Online play, as always, can be a “dangerous” place when your skills are lacking; though thankfully as a whole I consider the Rocket League community about the most consistently polite among the online games I’ve played. If you don’t have ready access to online play this mode can serve you well enough but you’d really be missing out on the best the game has to offer.

I can (and probably would) talk all day about the game but in the end you’ll have to check things out for yourself to make up your mind. Even with all the hours I’ve put in, and with the skills I’ve developed, there is still a significant amount of technique the people who are very good at the game have over me. Some of the aerial goals you’ll see will simply blow you away and the good news is that if you get up your courage and refine your skills you’ll find that you can pull those moves off as well. It’s when you connect on those crazy impulses and score or block that the game makes you a fan, you just need to have the nerve to try.

Cross-posted from Nindie Spotlight


LemonadeJuly 06, 2017

I have played it a few times before. I like it, but Im really bad at it. Im not sure if I will buy it.

I'm going to dissent from Justin's opinion on the season mode.  Play it for fun or for getting basic controls down, but do not use it to hone your skills.  Like most games with a competitive slant, the best way to hone your skills is by playing others online. 

Once you get the basics down, jump right into online competitive.  You'll get a flavor for how actual people play the game compared to the bots, start testing out aerial shots/blocks, and figuring out the most effective way to launch yourself across the map for when the opposing team has gotten past you and is barreling towards your goal. 

Playing mostly against bots will teach you wrong lessons on how to counter another team, and it's tough to let go of bad habits.

Quote from: Lemonade

I have played it a few times before. I like it, but Im really bad at it. Im not sure if I will buy it.

Lemonade, this is one of those games that is very much about putting time into it to get better.  You'll start playing and feel good about general movement around the map, then hit a plateau where the other players around you are figuring out the right bankshots or tricky movements to make goals past you.

Then you'll start learning these bankshots/pivots and how to counter them, but then you'll realize the better players are really all about hitting their shots as aerials that forces the goalies to use aerial flight to block. 

Then you'll figure out how to make those aerial shots and block adequately, but see online that the truly great players are able to finesse their boost to damn near glide carry the ball in the air across the map with their car with surgical precision.

I'm at stage 2 in this progression.  Not sure if i'll ever get good enough to get to that third point, but there is still a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in having figured out how to make tricky shots and defend your goal effectively.

The big question is whether the core gameplay is enough to draw you in long enough to keep learning over hundreds of hours like I have.  Even with the game being out as long as it has, I still play nearly 3-4 matches a night when I sit down to play video games because the core gameplay IS that fun to me.

Hehe, was merely being nice about Season mode for people who don't like to worry about folks calling them a n00b on the chat. The bots are decent enough that you can get a mild challenge while you learn basics but you're right, you'll ultimately learn little to nothing from them that will put you on a road to actual success. :)

StratosJuly 07, 2017

What will the local multiplayer options be for the Switch version? Is there split-screen? Hoping I can add this to my rotation of party games.

LemonadeJuly 09, 2017

Quote from: Donkonade

Lemonade, this is one of those games that is very much about putting time into it to get better.

Thats kind of what I assumed. There is a good chance I will buy the game

BeautifulShyJuly 12, 2017

Played this a bit on Steam and it is pretty fun. It is such a fun game to play online as well and it should be a great game for Switch players.

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Game Profile

Rocket League Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Psyonix

Worldwide Releases

na: Rocket League
Release Nov 14, 2017

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