Review Platform: Xbox One
Review Copy Provided By: Psyonix
Release Date: February 17, 2015
There’s something about watching brightly colored, customized cars bashing into an oversized ball and trying to score goals that never gets old. The premise of Rocket League (for those new to the game) is that two teams of cars, equipped with boost and double jump capabilities, face off in various arenas in a Thunderdome-style soccer match. There’s really not much to the game beyond that, but there doesn’t need to be. Rocket League has been expertly ported for Xbox One, and is still just as addictive as ever.
Rocket League’s mechanics are very simple, and make it a great game to just pick up and play. It excels at being in the sports gaming genre, but without the barriers to entry that other similar titles create for those who aren’t sports fans. There are no stats (beyond your own), or complicated play making; it’s just one person, in their car, with the objective of crashing around at top speeds to score goals. This objective comes in varieties of 1v1 all the way to 4v4 (which gets hectic), but other than aesthetic changes in arenas and vehicles, the goal remains the same.
It is surprising given this lack of variation how long Rocket League manages to remain fresh. With very few gameplay objectives and only one real play mode (score goals to win), each game is still vastly different. After the completion of a game, the player is rewarded with a customizable item for their garage which can range from an antenna ball to a new chassis. None of these upgrades physically alter the game (other than changing the size of the car for chasses), but regardless, I found myself wanting to collect them all. These customizations make the game worth coming back to over and over again, and there’s no shortage of them. Xbox One players also get exclusive access to vehicle modifications themed after the Gears of War and Halo series, in the form of new cars and new decals.
Rocket League can also be very competitive for those who want it to be. The ranked system has benefited from a few iterations on PC and now feels polished and easy to understand. In ranked matches, the simple game concept becomes a strategic one, and only truly coordinated teammates will be able to advance very far. This competitive element adds a level of complexity that helps extend Rocket League’s replayability, as ranked matches often have a completely different feel than their casual counterparts. There’s nothing like the feeling of watching a perfectly timed cross be bicycle kicked into the opponent’s goal by a pink hummer sporting a top hat and shooting dollar bills out its tail pipe (let’s see someone commentate that play).
The only place that Rocket League suffers is in a few technical glitches that I never experienced on PC. There were a couple of instances where ten seconds before the end of a match, my client would freeze and kick me out to the Xbox dashboard. The game’s visuals also tend to stutter at the very end of each match (after the clock runs out), but usually don’t alter gameplay at all. Hopefully these issues will be fixed with some early patches for the game. Other than some minor annoyances, these glitches did not affect gameplay very often, but could become annoying if not fixed soon.
Finally, Rocket League has both casual and ranked couch coop! It is very easy to sign someone in as a guest and get into an online match with friends or strangers. In an age where couch coop is slowly being eliminated in major titles, it is refreshing to see it implemented so freely. Some of the best moments in Rocket League come from team interaction, and this is only amplified when your teammates are next to you. This experience is enhanced even further by the presence of the well-loved mutators from the PC version of the game. When playing in private matches, players can turn on several mods that alter gameplay significantly, and lead to often hilarious results. Extremely low gravity, cube balls, increased demolition physics, and insane amounts of boost are just a few of the options players can edit in custom games. This helps augment Rocket League’s vanilla game modes enough to keep players interested.
Overall, Rocket League is a simple concept with easy-to-use controls, good graphics, an addictive customization system, and fantastic multiplayer implementation. I have no doubt that Rocket League will be a popular game for many years to come. No matter how much I play, the concept never seems to get old, and with added mutators, intense ranked matches, and couch coop, there is always variation to be had. The price point is also only $20, which is an absolute steal for the amount of replayability offered. Rocket League on Xbox One is a must buy for everyone!
Rocket League is a simple concept with easy-to-use controls, good graphics, an addictive customization system, and fantastic multiplayer implementation.