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Rocket League (PC) artwork

Rocket League (PC) review


"Rocketing to about the top. "


Rocket League is a fictional sportsball game akin to football, with a marked arcade setting.
In place of human footballers, it has futuristic battle cars (with tinted windows: the vehicle is the player’s avatar, no driver is visible): these can sprint, rise into and stay in the air using refillable boost, like human footballers do physiological energy to like ends.

The arcade setting consists in the absence of fouls, throw-ins, the off-side rule, vehicle damage. Don’t even think of tactics to be activated by pressing R2 + Circle + (very quickly!) L3 or R3 + Triangle + Cross + (hold for at least 2 seconds!) Select. Here, the point is only to do all in your power to score as many goals as you can, allow the other team as few as possible. While having loads of fun.

A marketing device I never fail to find myself averse to, the ever so often deployed “this is a game for everyone” sales-enhancing piece of rhetoric, is in the case of Rocket League close to being a truth, and admirably so.
The carefully structured ranking system puts players into one of no less than 19 tiers, each divided up into 4 divisions, enabling fine match-making: every player has a win-loss ratio ranging within the 49/51%-51/49% interval, all of the time.
Add that the DLC, which Psionix monetize more than the game itself, is strictly cosmetic.

Players from every walk of a gamer’s life had fun with sports games back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Later, this progressively changed. The availability of more complex controllers and the accent preference-setters laid on games’ duty to employ all available buttons spurred developers to actually employ all available buttons even where against judgment.
The mistake was at one time technically feasible and powerfully encouraged: how not to make it?
On the bright side, professional gaming was born. Meanwhile, in more than a few instances, to have fun controlling an avatar while having the illusion of being a sportsball player, athlete, street fighter or racing driver awkwardly grew a few pains away from the average player. Sports games were now niche games, their praises sung by ever smaller, specialized fan bases, while they who looked for accessible entertainment were chucking the towel in and learning to keep at an increasingly wide distance.

Only “retrogames”, such as the fun-brimming Kopanito All-Stars Soccer (“soccer”, not “football”), have stayed healthfully enjoyable. But they come dressed in ‘90s-like 2D graphics, in modest, embroidery-free packages. They can achieve some market success and following, but it’s just another niche.

For Rocket League, they did focus on infusing a true game/”retrogame” soul into it, while ensuring it would look the part of a game of the present day and age, yet leave lightweight hardware untroubled. Between complexity and ease, modern adequately modern and flashy looks and modesty of hardware requirements, the golden mean is achieved much successfully.
The online infrastructure runs faultlessly, with matches arranged in a matter of seconds, each player’s ping constantly visible, and the game sustaining nontrivial lags without play disruption. None of this is in the least bit a given even for blockbusters (see the woes of Grand Theft Auto V, as predictably unreported as they have gone).
The e-sports compartment thrives due to the latitude for refinement and mastery where, also thanks to the small action set and basic controls, there is no beginner who can’t have plenty of amusement.

This is a game everybody plays only online and so will you.
It being a team game (if one coming with a 1vs1 mode), it serves as a case study on the the gulf between social behaviour where social rewards and sanctions are at least a concrete possibility and spontaneous, unconstrained social behaviour where the thereof does not apply.

It tends to orbit about the centre of the “wat u got”, “u weeb” and “add me as a friend if u want a master” system and is easily more educative than a pair of your typical social sciences PhDs when it comes to the matters social sciences PhDs look into.
The chat can be disabled, but not in the game settings; instead, you have to do it each game.

If the goal is not undergoing a permanent stress test but playing the game, you may want to make friends with players near your skill level who are suited to playing as a team. All else works like magic as it is.

P.S.: when they call you a “weeb” they mean “dweeb.”

Rocket League has been expanding through time, without it being half-done at launch. New content, the essential part of it always free, has broadened an already complete offering. About two years from the release, the torrent of updates streams consistently, no halt in sight.

If you have a spirited teenager dwelling somewhere in your inward no matter your chronological age, or are a youngster in flesh and blood, Rocket League will be a homely playground, with no inherent flaw, top-grade online infrastructure, and last but first engrossing gameplay capable of embracing players of every ability level and persistence.
There seldom are less than fifty thousand people in game and one hundred thousand at peak hour, and that is not without good reason. This is no “game for everyone” since those do not in fact exist, but, really, a game for many.


4.5/5

bwv_639's avatar
Community review by bwv_639 (May 10, 2017)

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