Multiplayer games are becoming the future of the gaming industry, which means that a solid experience is crucial to its commercial success. This is why a lot of games are now presenting a Beta, and sometimes even an Alpha, period which, depending on the format, lets a limited amount of people or the whole public willing to, play the game which is still in development and give feedback about the overall experience, while at the same time the developers can assess how the game fares as well, in terms of server functionality and the like. Rocket League is a game which, already in its beta stage, is ready for a full blown release, and with much more variety to come, it promises to be a heck of an experience.
Following the modestly successful Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, released quite unnoticeably on PSN on PS3, developer Psyonix are at it again, this time on Sony’s latest console with Rocket League, a successor in everything but name, which is a good thing because man that thing’s a mouthful! Rocket League, for those who never played the previous game, is a game of old fashioned football, soccer for Americans, with cars. You control an RC car and try to score goals into the opponent’s net, and he tries to do the same. On paper, this does not sound a very amusing experience, and may lead one to believe that the game is fun for an hour or maybe two and that’s it. Well, still in its beta stages, the game packs a ton of fun, and I really could not get enough of it. The servers were open for almost half a day from 6pm, and I could not wait to unleash my RC car against my opponents.
The game plays pretty much as you heard it. You smash your car against the ball to move it forward, but since the game relies heavily on physics, any angle you hit the ball with will produce a different outcome, meaning the ball will go in different directions depending on the impact with your vehicle. The physics in the game are superb, and give a feel of realism, if ever football was played with cars before. Apart from the realistic physics, the cars can jump and use boost. When these two abilities are combined, the cars can soar through the air as if they had jetpacks, and while pulling off insane twists and spins, you may score wonderful and incredibly goals when the car is in full descent. Learning to fly is not very difficult but is not easy either, but with enough practice anyone can master it. Thankfully, boost pads abound the stadium aplenty, and while you will run out of boost for sure, you will know it was your fault and not the game’s. Rocket League also features explosions, and very fun ones while we are at that. Ramming an opponent car while speeding with boost will grant a very high chance of sending him flying in flames. While it is not that difficult to pull off, it can still be treated as a skillshot due to the small size of the cars, so kudos to any who manage to pull off these explosions on a regular basis.
The game for now features four modes, being 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 Chaos mode, and they are all online multiplayer. These modes are generally all played the same, except with more players littering the field each time. The game’s difficulty is not that easy to predict, since I have played games where a 2v2 ended in a 2-1 win while a 4v4, which sounds more closed and even, ended in a score line of 7-1. Again, this unpredictability is what makes the game so much fun, but on the other hand getting paired with incompetent teammates, like I do all the time, is a bit frustrating and may ruin a game or two. Luckily, you may opt out of a rematch and find another queue, in the hopes of finding a decent teammate next time. The final game promises to have local co-op, which will be a real blast to play with friends, but for now we can still enjoy online multiplayer just as well. I hope Psyonix add an option where two local players can queue online for a 2v2 against online opponent since I haven’t heard anything of the sorts, but I still remain faithful that my wish is granted.
In terms of bad features, the game does not have any. I do have one complaint about the game, which some may agree with but some may disagree. I hate goalkeepers in this game. I think that the whole concept of the game is to run around and score and have fun, but if you are just going to sit in goal, block the shots which come your way and blast out ahead when the opposition is without any boost left is almost cheating. A measure which could prevent goalkeeping could be put in place where if a player does not move for a number of seconds, or doesn’t cover for example 1km in 10 seconds or how long it takes, he either gets a warning or explodes and gets a time penalty out of the game. Also, another suggestion that I wanted to make is how explosions do not produce that much of a difference in the game, and while it is good for the fun of all the players, it does not make actual sense in the game. I would propose for the cars to be more robust meaning they do not explode as easily, but if you explode you have a 10/15 seconds penalty out of the game, spectating. At least, skillshots will then be rewarded accordingly. Another complaint from my part, while I am in a whiny mood, is that you can confuse the front with the rear a lot of times. Since the car is painted the same colour all over, you do not really see the bonnet or the spoiler, and after collisions with walls or other players, or Spiderman stunts across the walls or roof, you can easily end up accelerating in the wrong way. Now I do not know what customization plans the developers intend to put in the final title, but it would be cool to have some sort of carbon fibre bonnets or at least paint different parts in other colours, as well as fitting parts such as front grill or mudguards, or totally different car models such as small pick-up trucks or small buggies, and each model could have its different set of attributes like more speed for racer cars and more durability and shot power for pick-up trucks.
Collecting feedback from my main sparring partner Joshua from Invision, he makes a very good point that in the full game there could be the possibility of creating a team within the game, complete with custom badges, paintjobs and even team names, which would then be used for leagues, cups and general leaderboards on the website. This could mean an exportation of paint job to then be downloaded by other players with oe without the permission of the creator. Even a simple team creation facility on the site would be cool, with the chance to enter the member names and then work the rest on our own. Cups could also be cool, and I honestly would not mind helping the administration and management of them as well. Mr. Joshua also adds how it would be cool to have a hub on the game’s website dedicated to uploads from users, with a selection of the best goals of the week or the month, who could receive a custom paint job for that week specifically given by the developers, or with some “Rocket League Goal of the Week/Month Badge” in orange and blue, which are Rocket League’s main colours, up until now at least. He also wants voice chat to verbally harass his opponents when scoring a goal. He also mentioned some foul language which I cannot reproduce here. Bad Josh. Bad boy. To counter the possible disconnects during the game, a Did Not Finish percentage could be implemented in the game to safeguard players who play till the end from leavers. This could be problematic due to internet interruptions, but if an algorithm could be put in place where the system automatically detects if a player exited the game on purpose or not, the dnf idea would be a good addition as well. Another one of his ideas features different game modes based on different power ups, sort of how 2010’s racing hit Blur did Motor Mash; an arena based on collecting power ups and destroying your opponents to rack up points. Joshua called it mayhem mode, and imagined shockwaves in it. I’m only spreading the word here. His best idea though is the following: a full-on 11 a side match with 22 players. I honestly would not mind the goalkeepers there, but imagine what a confusion there would be! It would be insane fun, confusion and everything in between!
Some videos of our sparring can be found on my twitch channel, twitch.tv/rkz92, his twitch channel, twitch.tv/invisionjosh, or our own Youtube Channel, youtube.com/invisiongamecom, where you can find a series of games of extremely (yeah right!) high skill. The video embedded below this preview should also serve as a good indication of how much fun the game is. A 5 minute match goes by in a flash.
Before I wrap up this preview I would like to make a shoutout to Thomas Silloway, who is one of the devs, if not the only one, behind the game, and who favourites my tweets when no one else does. Thanks Tom! Another shoutout goes to minimur12, who I don’t know or remember his name, but I have had a hell of a time playing with. Cheers mini!! Last shoutouts go to our boss who hooked me up with the keys, as well as Josh, who has lost countless games against me. What’s up Josh!
Out of a year and a half of owning a PlayStation 4, Rocket League has probably characterised the most fun I have had playing a game, apart from one or two titles which I still play regularly. I even had fun writing this piece even though I am lazy as hell! Its purpose is simply to have fun in a fast paced and cool environment, which provides plenty of thrills and also the occasional rage, which has its place in a game based on both skill and luck like Rocket League. This is a game which I will definitely hunt down when it releases, and if the above suggestions are taken into consideration, the game will definitely be worth the best scores when it releases!