I have a confession to make. Ever since Rocket League released back in 2015, I’ve bought and ignored plenty of quality games in order to play just “one more match” of the rocket-propelled car soccer game. We all know, however, that it’s never just one more match. One match quickly becomes two, two turns to three, and before you know it, you’ve played Rocket League for two hours straight. Never before, or since, has an online game captivated me to the same level that Rocket League has. This is why I think that online games peaked as soon as Psyonix released its little soccar game.
While it hasn’t reached the same commercial dizzying heights of success as games like Overwatch, Fortnite, and now Apex Legends has, Rocket League has established its own sizeable audience confirmed to be as high as 50 million players in September 2018. It’s an audience that has grown exponentially since its initial release thanks to releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, after the original PS4 and PC versions of the game. Big updates and a solid stream of new content has helped, too.
Over the years Rocket League has been on the receiving end of seemingly endless updates. Rocket League has transformed from an online game with a small handful of cars, stages, and game modes into something so much more. Now, players can choose from a whole variety of different game modes (branching away from the standard soccar into ice hockey and basketball), a huge number of cars, hats, and other cosmetic items. What’s more, with its Fortnite-esque Seasons and Rocket Pass, you can now unlock more items than ever before simply by playing the game, or by paying for the Rocket Pass. Moves like this ensure players keep coming back for more.
While online aspects such as Seasons and the Rocket Pass are of course derivative, why wouldn’t you copy what is the most successful game out there right now? Both have simply acted to move Rocket League up another addictive level. You do keep playing just to reach the next tier level, no matter how hard you might try to stop yourself from playing again. The biggest reason you keep coming back to Rocket League, however, is thanks to its simple, effective, and endlessly fun gameplay.
What a save!
— Toby Saunders (@Toby_Saunders94) May 13, 2018
Although other sports games such as FIFA, NBA 2K, and Madden NFL let us step in the shoes of our favorite athletes and take part in sports, they never quite nail the true feeling of watching or playing said sport in real life. Rocket League, for what must be the first time in video game history, feels like a sport in of itself. This is most true in its original soccar format. Hop online and head into a competitive Doubles or Standard match and you feel like you are actively taking part in a competitive sport. Your emotions go through the wringer in each and every game.
The highs of scoring a hat-trick or pulling off some ludicrous skill are matched effortlessly by the lows of missing an easy save or scoring an own goal. Each and every match manages to be exciting, even over 600 hours in. This is thanks to a skill ceiling that’s always being raised. What’s more, you can’t buy yourself to the top. This is a game that celebrates pure skill. You’ve only got yourself to blame if you missed that sitter. Nice shot!
It has been a joy to watch the game develop over the last four and a half years. Watching competitive Rocket League matches at the top of the game two years ago doesn’t compare with the audacious moves the top players have these days. It’s the perfect esports sports title inasmuch as it is essentially a sport unto itself. Never before has a game made me move in the same way as Rocket League. You actively swerve your body when trying to fly up to that hard to reach pass. The thrill of coming back to win in overtime after first clawing yourself back up to 3-3 from 3-0 down is untouchable in the world of online gaming. Better yet, each match lasts only five minutes.
Competitive Rocket League can be somewhat anger-inducing, however. For every great teammate you’re paired with, there’s a snot-nosed kid only playing to troll, or a sore loser who’s ready to quit after letting in one goal. The game’s quick chat options are often toxic, too. Thankfully, however, you can turn it all off. Also, if competitive play is too much, you can always head online to shoot some Hoops, ice hockey in Snow Day, the madness that is Rumble with all of its power-ups, or Dropshot. While I don’t believe that any of them hold a candle to competitive soccar, they can add a little refreshment and color to the game. Better yet — whatever mode, whatever platform — anyone can play with or against anyone else on Rocket League, which has some of the finest cross-platform options out there.
A new title has always seemed to come along and become the benchmark for online multiplayer. We’ve had Halo 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Team Fortress, and now it’s Rocket League that stands tall over its competition. There’s nothing else quite like it out there. Even the sometimes overly toxic nature of the quick chat isn’t enough to deter me from playing on (you can turn it off if you want). Whether you’re after a quick ten-minute online blast for fun, or intense competitive play, Rocket League is the game for you. See you on the pitch.