Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, can be a little daunting. Seeing a player being able to make accurate shots on goal, juggle the ball or balance the ball on the roof of the car and “dribble” it towards your goal really shows you your own relative skill level, but unlike many other competitive games Rocket League doesn’t seem to have the kind of ultra-competitive community that makes new players feel unwelcome. Part of this may have to do with the games rather absurd premise, but it also has to do with the fact that in any game other than 1v1, even the most inexperienced player can contribute in some way. In a team of three it’s perfectly acceptable to have a player roaming about like an idiot trying to simply get a touch on the ball.
While there are undoubtedly some strategies for how best to shoot a goal, Rocket League doesn’t have the kind of in game knowledge requirement that makes other competitive online games – mobas for example – so difficult for new players to pick up and play, not to mention be accepted by the community. For those who are ultra-competitive and want to play with a set team against the greatest competition available, there are ranked matches and a leaderboard letting you know who is at the top of the heap, but for everyone else there are a number of online and offline modes. Choose the number of players a side, from one to four and wait for the server to kick you into a game. Then it’s a matter of showing your skill, or lack thereof for five minutes, get your XP and find another game. The servers are nice and full (there were nearly 80k players online at the time of this writing) so there’s very little in terms of down time between games, but if the servers are down for some reason, or you’re having trouble with your internets there are also single player modes that pit you and up to three AI allies against an equal number of bots. The basic difficulty setting is pretty terrible, but the higher difficulty levels actually pose a decent challenge and are good for honing your skills.
A full seasonal mode is also available against AI bots, giving the game a definite soccer feel offline. A handy training mode also instructs you as to the basics when it comes to defending the goal, being a striker and pulling off aerial shots. With the exception of the 1v1 duels which prove to be uninspiring unless both players are equally good or bad at the game, Rocket League is a pure pleasure. It’s a perfect example of how a simple, if ludicrous idea well realized can make for a truly memorable experience. The lack of bells and whistles or extraneous rules outside of the main game modes indicate how strong the core experience is. It’s easy to pick up but has one of the longest, steadiest learning curves in modern gaming, with each subsequent match improving your ability a little (a very little in my case), teaching you new ways to touch the ball or stymie an opponent. For a game predicated on every match using the same rules and every player being on the same level when it comes to in game advantage the variation between individual matches is enormous.
No two play alike, and due to the fact that nobody has discovered any exploits or cheap tactics as yet, there is no foolproof strategy for play aside from having an experienced team. Instead what you get is five minute bouts of ridiculous fun.