Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rocket League Review (XONE)

Rocket League is a game I knew I would love right from the moment I first saw it, to the point I almost bought a PS4 just to play it.  My patience was rewarded, though, as it finally came to Xbox One and was every bit as good as I had hoped.  It’s got cars, soccer, and is competitive multiplayer that isn’t yet another shooting game.  How can you go wrong?  It plays great and has a ton of content (with more coming all the time) which all make it a must-own title we can’t recommend highly enough.  See our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Psyonix Inc. / 505 Games
  • Developer: Psyonix Inc.
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Sports
  • Pros: Intuitive gameplay; innovative idea; great presentation; tons of content; Dunk House
  • Cons: Getting murdered online by high-level players
  • MSRP: $20 (digital), $30 (physical)

Rocket League is soccer with cars.  Unless you’re playing the Dunk House expansion, at which point it is basketball with cars.  But, mostly, Rocket League is soccer with cars.  You play in 1v1, 2v2 3v3, or 4v4 matches – either against human opponents or bots – and the different player numbers really dramatically affect the way the game plays.   More players means more interesting options for attack and defense and teamwork.  Less players makes the game less chaotic, but open the door for pure player skill to shine through.  However you want to play, online or offline in local multiplayer or solo against bots, Rocket League has you covered.

The best thing about Rocket League is that it has a ton of content, and more keeps getting added all the time and most of it is free.  New maps, new customization items, and even entirely new gameplay modes have been added for free, which makes the $20 investment a total no-brainer.  There is some premium DLC in the form of new cars at $2 each, but they definitely aren’t required purchases as the game has a ton of built-in cars that are more than enough to satisfy.  Rocket League is definitely intended as an online multiplayer game, but there is more than enough content to justify a purchase even if you only plan to play solo or in local offline multiplayer.  There’s just a ton of stuff to do here.

Okay, that last thing wasn’t the real best thing about Rocket League.  The real best thing about Rocket League is that it is crazy fun to play and surprisingly intuitive.  The way the game works is that you choose a car – and each car has slightly different stats for speed and acceleration and jumping, etc. – and then play soccer with it in large arenas with rounded corners everywhere so the ball (and cars) never stop moving.  You pick up turbo boosts via pickups on the floor, and can jump and flip and spin your car in the air in order to hit the ball.  The harder you hit the ball, the faster it goes, naturally.  From there it really is up to your imagination how you choose to use the tools at your disposal to score goals and play defense.  
The beauty of Rocket League is that it is surprisingly intuitive.  You learn how to boost and jump and flip and figure out how to hit the ball properly almost immediately.  Of course, knowing how to play, and being able to play well, are two totally different things as actually becoming skilled at Rocket League does take a while.  It is a rewarding learning experience, though, because mastering impressive aerial shots and playing good defense is extremely satisfying.  So you keep playing and practicing until you think you’re getting good, then you play with people who blow you out of the water which makes you play and practice and get even better.  Rocket League is a hell of a drug.

In addition to soccer, you can also play a basketball mode called Dunk House.  Dunk House places huge basketball hoops at each end of an arena and you have to pop the ball up into the air into the hoop in order to score.  Just like the soccer mode, the game is very intuitive and just makes sense from the first moment you play it.  And it actually really plays quite differently from soccer despite using the same cars and core gameplay, which adds a ton of value to an already stacked package in Rocket League.

Presentation in Rocket League is outstanding overall.  The games take place in big sports arenas, but there are ton of different locales and designs and they all look great.  The cars look very good too, and the sheer variety of customization options is impressive.  Lighting and weather effects also really make the game pop as well.  The sound is also very good with realistic crowd reactions and some great sound effects.  I also really like how there are “shoes on hardwood” basketball squeaky sound effects during Dunk House.  Little details are awesome.

Rocket League is just about a perfect game.  It has a ton of features and modes and content all at an extremely reasonable $20 price tag.  More content is constantly being added, too, so the value just keeps getting better.  The gameplay is just so intuitive and accessible, but with practically no skill ceiling, so you can keep playing and perfecting your style basically forever.  You can buy Rocket League as a digital download, or as a retail game (that includes the DLC cars) for $30.  Whichever version you get, Rocket League is amazing.  Buy it.   

Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.