It’s very rare to excited about a sports game these days. Once the initial game has been released, all that can really be done past that point is to tinker with gameplay balance and update the rosters. This is a reason why I enjoy (and miss!) the more arcadey takes on sports games, such as NFL Blitz or MLB Slugfest, more than their more realistic contemporaries as there’s a lot more room to add in different things to make it a lot of fun. It takes something really special for a new sports game to come out that immediately sinks its hooks in me and refuses to let go even after having played countless matches. A new and fantastic sport has been created, and that sport is called Rocket League.
On the surface, Rocket League appears to be nothing more than Soccer with rocket-fueled matchbox cars. That assessment is completely correct, but it’s how this idea is implemented that makes it such a blast. You have two teams of matchbox cars speeding, flipping and bashing into each other all in attempt to hit the giant bumper ball into the opponent’s goal. That’s literally all there is to it, but it’s one of those concepts that can be best described as easy to learn, difficult to master that keeps me coming back for more… and more… and more!
You see, beyond the mechanic of just driving around the arena dome to hit the ball into the goal, you can also jump and spin around in the air in order to hit the ball backwards, forwards, high, low or at an angle. Hitting that perfect jump at the perfect time while avoiding being bashed around by an opponent is extremely tricky, but when you do happen to pull one off and you watch the ball go soaring into the opponents’ goal is one of the most satisfying feelings you can get in gaming.
There are also boost pads that are sprinkled throughout each arena for you to drive over and then subsequently use to send your car speeding to make a quick dash to the other side of the field to either get in position for a shot or make a last-second epic save. If you’re feeling sinister, you can also speed right into an opponent and demolish them to take them out of a potentially crucial play. You can even drive on the walls in this game, which can actually be used in a very effective way to keep momentum on a floating ball going or to avoid a hoard of cars that are pummeling towards you.
Of course, even fantastic concepts will get old fast if they don’t have the depth to keep you coming back for more, but Rocket League has just enough to make it feel like you’re getting something out of it each time. Outside of the handful of slick and great-looking arenas you can play in that each have day/night and weather variations to spice things up, the game also has a simple-yet-sweet progression system. Performing various tasks in any match, such as scoring/saving goals, clearing the ball from your goal or even performing a successful bicycle kick will net you various amounts of points. These points will increase your overall rank in the game, which help to match you up with similarly-skilled players online.
Speaking of the online mode, this is the one and only way to play the game. After you’ve played around with the tutorials and finished the game’s season mode, it’s all about putting your skills against other players form around the world. Each match I’ve played in has been absolutely electric, with the quick 5-minute games being perfect to just jump into and have a blast whenever you have a little time to spare. There’s also little to no lag, and if you happen to end up with jerks who quit out on you during the match they are immediately replaced by AI cars that are just as good as a skilled human player.
After every single match you complete, online or offline, you will be unlocking something new to customize your car with. Whether it’s a new car body, wheels, antenna or even your car’s rocket trail, there is something new for you to play around with to give your sweet ride a more personal touch. My ride is currently sporting a halo and the American flag as it tears through these epic matches, and seeing these personal touches shown off in goal replays never gets old. You might think that changing up your cars too much would make it difficult to figure out who is on which team, but thankfully the blue team vs. orange team colors are always front and center to avoid that issue entirely.
Rocket League is such a simple concept, but it’s for that same reason why it is currently all the rage with anybody who has been lucky enough to take part in a match. Playing it regularly makes me wish that it were a real sport with a regular season/play-offs just like the other major sports going on right now, as I promise you I would never miss a single game. It’s ridiculously fun, perfectly balanced whether playing against the AI or humans, and packs just enough extra content to keep me coming back daily. I seriously cannot give any higher praise to a game than I can with this one, and the fact that it’s an arcade sports game is a testament to how fantastic it is. If you’ve got a PlayStation 4 or a gaming-quality PC, do not waste another second and go join the Rocket League.