Review: Rocket League

About this Game

Rocket League

Publisher

Psyonix

Developer

Psyonix

Release Date

July 7, 2015

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

~20h

Platinum Difficulty

Very Easy

Online Trophies?

Yes

Difficulty Trophies?

No

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A PLAT SO EASY IT PRACTICALLY EARNS ITSELF

The concept of Rocket League is such an obvious one that it’s strange to think we’ve never seen anything like it. I’d expect to have at least got an incredibly cheesy movie with the same concept from 80s/90s cinema but no… Somehow, combining the two very manly past times of Motorsport and regular sport hasn’t happened yet.

As someone who is only a little into Sports Vehicles and not at all into Sport, especially football – or Soccer, for you Americans out there – Rocket League was never even close the top of my list for games I’m excited about. I’d been forced to play it with my girlfriend’s Brother once, who barely speaks English so I welcomed the distraction, and MrZhangetsu had squeezed a few matches out of me in the past. Both times I’d picked up a good majority of trophies entirely naturally.

Recently, my girlfriend and I turned to it as a source of entertainment on a night void of any, and ended up really enjoying ourselves, we kept this up for a few of evenings in a row until I was so close to the plat that it didn’t make sense not to go for it.

Rocket League Review

Like playing with numb hands

Rocket League’s unique gameplay means that trying to hit the ball with any sort of accuracy requires fast thumbs and an insane level of control over your vehicle.

You can jump with blank, boost with blank and drift with blank and that’s about it. You can tilt the car in mid-air with blank which helps you to add extra momentum to a hit or influence the direction the ball goes in, but I tried to avoid this as much as possible because it almost never went well for me.

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Trying (and failing) to control the ball in the air.

The rotation is extremely sensitive and it takes incredible reaction speeds and precision to be able to hit the ball exactly how you want to.

Keeping track of the ball is a little easier than you’d expect as you can press blank to switch to ball cam, which keeps the camera fixed on the ball. But this can get very confusing as the controls are relative to the camera, so if the ball speeds past you, whipping the camera around, suddenly the controls are flipped and you need to react to that quickly, which can be difficult when you’re already half-way up a wall.

Yeah, that’s right. With the curved nature of the stadiums and the momentum provided by the fast cars, driving up walls and even across the ceiling are completely possible and even viable strategies in a lot of situations.

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Riding the wall.

There is so much you can do and learn to do well to become a master at this game which is totally overwhelming at first and seems absolutely impossible due to the response time required. However, the strangest thing is that getting good at Rocket League is such a smooth and natural learning curve and the game is very accommodating of this.

Rewarding Experience

Almost everything you do in this game, from playing in an online tournament to playing solo against bots is rewarded with cosmetic items. There is an enormous pool of cosmetic items to earn and customise your vehicle with, but it seems that recent updates to the game have focused more attention on spending real-world money in order to acquire the coolest items and cosmetic drops after a match are different. By reaching certain thresholds you’ll be given every cosmetic item in a set group and then after a very short while, you’ll have nothing left to unlock.

Annoyingly, a lot of the paid items have a fixed colour, too, so you’d be forced to buy the same item multiple times if you wanted different colour options. It seems like they’d be a lot more worth shelling out for if the colour was customizable.

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This car had a permanent blue trim.

Seriously, even car bodies have a pre-set coloured frame. I purchased one which had a blue frame around the edges, but when I was on the orange team this blue frame was still there! Which meant that I was constantly being mistaken for the enemy and getting knocked away from the ball by my own team-mate.

Local Play

If, like me, you’re scared that your lack of skill is going to get you destroyed should you attempt to play against real people online then you can play against AI. You can determine the difficulty of the AI and even modify almost every aspect of the match. From the basic rules to the size of the ball and the strength of gravity, there are a million-and-one combinations of ways to make the game a little fresh each time and keep yourself and your friends on your toes in a local match.

Getting bored of “Soccar” mode? Well, go and place Basketball or Ice Hockey mode. Game getting too easy? Hike up the AI difficulty, turn gravity to strong and make everything move twice as fast.

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Ice Hockey mode is a lot of fun, it’s quite interesting how much the gameplay changes from this alone.

I’m not ashamed to admit that most of my time spent playing this game was local. It’s like a fun party game and you can waste a good chunk of time with a friend or two just messing around with the different gameplay modifiers and seeing what you can do with them.

By the end of a multi-hour session of messing around on Rocket League with friends or even just bots, you’ll surprise yourself with how much better you’ve become at handling the car and controlling the ball. Maybe good enough to try online play…

Online Play

The online gameplay is actually really accommodating to your skill level. There’s a pretty decent match-making system which very rarely ever – at least in my limited experience – pairs you with somebody at a much higher skill level.

The system will look for players with similar stats from their hours of gameplay and then match you up with those kinds of teams so that the match seems more fair. Obviously there will be exceptions to this such as players moving over from another system with an already fully-trained skillset, but this should be rare.

If matchmaking takes too long, the game will begin to expand the pool of player it looks at for potential rivals, so if there aren’t many people online then you’re more likely to get a less ideal pairing, but that’s pretty understandable, all things considered.

My Rocket League Platinum Experience

Natural Progression

As I said at the beginning of this review, the game basically plats itself. I earned the majority of trophies by just goofing off on the game with friends, there weren’t many that I had to particularly try very hard to earn, just a few which I’d seen on the trophy list and struggled to resist the urge to go for them, but I’m sure that they could have occurred naturally given time.

These were things like using a full tank of boost 10 times in a single match and scoring a goal while in reverse.

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Being able to track a lot of your stats is a very useful feature for Trophy Hunters.

Others which aren’t related to performing certain feats on the pitch involve simply unlocking a lot of items for your car and then subsequently equipping a customisation item in every slot. Simple, really, considering how many items the game likes to give you. My Girlfriend was able to earn the “Fully Stocked” trophy for 150 items within only her first 4 hours of gameplay.

Game Modes

For the most part, I played 2v2 with a friend against AI and that was it. So, when it came to trophies for doing a 3v3 match or a 1v1 match, I went a little out of my way to do these things.

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Playing 3v3 is worthy of a trophy all on it’s own.

A couple of these game mode trophies involved playing a Season. All we had to do was win the first match in a Season (basically a tournament) and then complete a Season. Well, of course, the only match we lost ended up being the first one, so once we’d finished the Season we started a new one, won the first match, and then simply quit to the main menu once the trophy popped.

Practice Drills

Sooner or later, if you want this Platinum, you’re gonna have to do the Practice Drills. It’s basically just three tutorials made to help you get better at the game and understanding the kind of tricks you can do to improve your play-style, but I didn’t bother with this until I had practically every other trophy.

It’s probably a good idea to do these first, as long as you don’t have a friend with you who you’re forcing to wait until you’re done with the tutorials – bit of a dick move, friend.

They’re easy and quick and for the sake of a Platinum it’s hardly the most difficult thing you could be asked to do. Well, except for the Aerial tutorials. These are absolutely ridiculous. It’s so hard to hit the ball while it’s in the air as they’re often so high up it’s hard to hit them without a double-jump, which can be very hard to control. Practice makes perfect, though, as it were and with plenty of it you’re sure to make it out the other end of these tutorials with a trophy.

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Double-jumping and then boosting upwards to hit the ball from above was the best strategy I could come up with.

20 Saves

I don’t know about you, but these totally didn’t come naturally to me. Maybe with another 20 hours of playing this with friends and AI I would have eventually made enough saves to earn the Rider’s Block trophy, but getting a save seemed to occur so rarely. Often, you’d be making efforts to divert a ball from your goal long before it gets close enough to count as a save, and then the game’s controls are so awkward that actually stopping the ball when it gets that close seems like a magnificent feat in itself.

So, I got a little tricksy with this one and used the following method for cheesing the trophy;

Get a friend!

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Of course MrZhangetsu stepped in to help out with this one.

Yeah, just team up 1v1 with a buddy and have them take shots at the goal over and over. If they make a perfect shot-on-goal and you stay back and wait by the goal to block the shot you’ll have those 20 saves in no time. Quick players could probably even do this solo with two controllers and a fast hand.

100% Completion

While the platinum is indeed hilariously easy, it’s also a hilariously small portion of the trophy completion. If you want to surpass the Platinum and go for 100% completion then you’re going to have to complete a whopping 52 additional trophies which all require wildly varying levels of skill.

Some merely ask that you play a single match on a certain map, others ask that you perform specific feats using a specific vehicle and the remaining few pertain to the Basketball, Ice Hockey and Breakout gameplay variations.

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Scoring a goal in Ice Hockey mode was all it took to get this trophy!

While none seem particularly hellish, there are plenty which will certainly be time-consuming and require some real love for the game. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy the game, I don’t have that kind of love for it and won’t be trying to earn the rest. Though, I’m sure I’ll earn some more through natural gameplay with friends.

Time Breakdown

Goofing around with friends

Goofing around in different game modes

Actively collecting the last few trophies

That concludes my Rocket League Trophy Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Plat

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Rocket League is a game which almost everybody has hiding at the back of their library or in a "Multiplayer Games" folder on their dashboard, waiting for the rare occasion that friends come over. IT's time to bust those copies out and start getting to work on the Platinum. It's easy, it's fun, it's a no-brainer.

Pros

  • Unique fun gameplay
  • near-infinite options for modifying the simple gameplay
  • interesting and fun cosmetic items

Cons

  • Somewhat frustratingly awkward to control
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Silver Trophy

Rocket League is far from being the most amazing game I've ever played, but it has huge potential for fun with friends, looks great and performs well. Certainly worthy of a Silver Trophy.

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About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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