Best of 2015: Rocket League
Nobody can deny the allure of Psyonix’s Rocket League; it has taken the world by storm with its addictive gameplay and dance-heavy soundtrack, providing hours of intense face-offs with friends and strangers the world over. If you’ve stepped (or driven) into one of its arenas and played even one match, you’ll know how much fun can be had simply by knocking a big ball about with your battle car, and scoring a ridiculously impossible goal from a great distance, defying gravity and mightily pissing off the opposition in the process.
The charm of Rocket League lies in its minimalism. The rules are simple: use your battle car to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal. There are no fouls, no offsides – the ball cannot go out of play and the game is only ever stopped when a goal is scored. The term ‘pick up and play’ is the backbone of its ethos, and everyone is welcome. Of course, that isn’t to say everyone will get on with Rocket League, but if you’re willing to learn the physics of the game, it can be very rewarding. You have to work out every eventuality when soaring through the air to connect with the ball, and getting that right can provide you with a great sense of satisfaction. If you miss, you’ll learn from your mistakes and the game rewards you for it, just don’t be down heartened if you fail – it won’t be forever.
When you’re three goals down with only a minute and a half to go, it’s squeaky bum time and the room for error needs to be non-existent. I remember one of my many tense matches I played in Rocket League this year resulted in me bellowing blue rage from my diaphragm and punching the air with gusto because my opposition managed to score three goals in a row. I let my guard down and went to pieces, all because I got cocky after scoring a sweet aerial goal. Thankfully, I got my act together and beat the opposition in overtime, but those memories will be with me forever, even if parts of them still make me a wee bit angry inside.
The options for customisation let you personalise your chosen ride, really making it feel like your own. If you’re anything like me, there will probably be one car that you choose for every match. I customised the Hotshot body with some sexy looking decals, complete with a flaming trail and spinning wheels, and we have seen many victories, with a few losses thrown into the mix. I only play as Clarence (yeah, I named my car. That’s perfectly normal, okay!) because I’m comfortable with the way he plays; perhaps the other cars aren’t too dissimilar in acceleration or grip, but I am in tune to Clarence and he is in tune with me.
The online elements of Rocket League add a completely new level of excitement too. You pick up points for every victory, and as you progress you’ll go from rookie to pro. No matter how good you may think you are there are always a hundred people that will destroy you out there – royally destroy you at that – and they’ll make you feel like an amateur, regardless of how many hours you’ve put in. There are many opportunities for you to win though, as everybody has a different tactic going into a match. Be resilient and know that everybody has lost online and everybody has been slaughtered at one time or another, just have a great time in the process because that’s what it’s all about.
Since the game released, Psyonix has released lots of cool DLC that has given you access to new battle cars, modes and customisable options. Getting to play as the DeLorean has been a personal highlight, mainly because I absolutely adore Back to the Future. The free Mutators DLC has added a completely new element to Rocket League too, adding many different variables to how matches can be played. Fancy trying to score with a cube at low gravity? Go for it. Psyonix has allowed you to hit square pegs in round holes and it can be ridiculously good fun.
Everything, from the chaotic 4 v 4 matches to the personal intensity of 1 v 1, is both massively addictive and charming to boot, giving you and your friends something to bond over and fall out over in equal measure.
Rocket League has also become an official eSports title this year, and has started to win various awards as 2015 wraps up; it was also announced at the Game Awards that it would be coming to Xbox One next year with special Halo and Gears of War-themed cars, meaning the future looks bright for Rocket League and developers Psyonix, and 2015 seems like only the start. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, download it from PSN or Steam right now and join in with the most one of the most exciting sports games this year.