Haven Review: Rocket League

rocket-leagueVery rarely do you come across a game that you want to be more apart of than just the game itself. You want to be apart of the community. You want to watch it live on the big screen with your mates down at the pub. This is one of the first times I’ve ever really felt like I really wanted to be apart of a sports community. And the game that did it, is more like a true sport than any sports game. I know that there are huge Esport communities surrounding many many games, but I just never really connected to any of them; until Rocket League. It’s almost insane that a game so simple hasn’t been done before. Basically, you play soccer as cars. Car soccer. There are pitches. There is a ball. Your team is cars. The other team is cars, and you play fucking soccer.

rypq5r0ugulmrz794gftThe game design is absolutely beautiful. Everything works together so well. The game itself is brightly colored, and each pitch looks and feels different. I’ve quickly gotten favorites to play on simply because they just make me feel great. The sounds and environment all combine to create such an immersive little world, even though it’s just a soccer field. The amount of customization you can do with you car is also astounding. You unlock new things, like chassis, wheels and decals after every match, win or lose, and it’s always something new; you never earn things you’ve already got. It makes it feel like you are unique, even on a team. And none of these changes do anything. There are some differences between the various chassis, but everything else is cosmetic, so you don’t feel bad designing your car however you’d like. And Even when you make a strange looking car (I like to call mine the necromancer car) you still feel like you are part of your team since the colors coordinate so well.
RocketLeague_5Like I said earlier, the core concept of the game is painfully simple, but it’s executed so well, and feels so inspired that I adore playing it every time. Again, This is a game I can really see going beyond the scope of itself. I could see it really becoming a major Esport, and one really accessible to every single person. It’s easy to understand what’s going on and get into that action without having to know complex rules…unlike every other Esport there is. I could see this being played on TV screens at bars, and every one getting in on the fun. Laughing and cheering for their teams. That’s never been something I’ve thought about much with video games before. I have the one or two games I like to watch competitively, but that’s because I like the game for what it is. Even with Esports I feel they are still contained within the game, but with Rocket League, I really feel that’s not the case. I feel like it has the potential to go beyond itself, and become something that people who aren’t into Esports can watch and enjoy in the background, or at parties, or whatever.

One of the game’s best enhancements is the graphic quality. The bright colors and cartoon-style visuals really capture the eye and add to the excitement of the game. I don’t think this would be quite the same if they took a more realistic approach. Sports games with realistic graphics tend to be very bland looking. They never truly show the feelings of excitement and wonder that people feel from being in a sports game. With Rocket League the visuals are explicitly there to add to those feelings.

InGameThe audio does exactly the same. Starting the game, nice poppy music plays as you get all set up, and then entering the game you hear the roar of the engines and the cheer of the crowd. On some pitches the audio is a bit subtler, without a big crowd, or much cheering. But they always add something. One pitch in particular is located at a train station and you hear lovely train noises as you play. Another field is out in the rain, and the soft sound of the water adds a nice touch. The audio definitely makes each pitch feel different from one another.

The Game can be very challenging. It’s a bit hard to figure out how to control the car, and in turn control the ball. It’s definitely something that is a huge accomplishment to master. Even playing in the time that I did, I never really got all that good at it. I still made simple mistakes and knocked the ball into my own goal from time to time. However, I had an absolute blast doing it the whole time. The game may be hard to get the hang of, but the learning is just as fun as anything else. And when you do make a goal it feels incredible and I had to cheer out in excitement.
rocket-league (1)One thing however, is the match making system. It seems that inevitably the teams will not be equal. Often one team will dominate the field. Now when you play multiple matches, the teams do change up. But it’s still very easy for one player to carry an entire team. I wish there were more measures taken to ensure some equality, but regardless It’s still fun. And it’s still fun to watch your fellow team mates make some goals.

The controls are a little weird, but more or less intuitive once you learn them. They feel like standard car controls with a couple added buttons for really important functions. The best thing is that you can jump around and spin in the air. This makes maneuvering across the pitch fun, and sometimes hilarious. You’ll just see these cars careen across the field spinning wildly in the air. When you need to make a precision move, there is a nice drift function that happens with just the tap of a button. You can use your booster to scream around the pitch and catch up to the ball. Hit the drift button to switch direction and carry the ball right into the goal, or at least try. More likely you hit the drift button and spin out of control away from the ball. Like I said it’s really hard to get the hang of. But it’s still hilarious.

rocket-league-review-2Luckily there are several tutorials and practice modes to help you learn what you need to do. Including tutorials on being a striker, mid, or goaly. Once you get the hang of the controls they are pretty simple, and being more or less competent at the game is easy to do, it’s the mastery and pulling off crazy maneuvers that’s the most difficult.

The replay value on this game is astronomical. As it is with any multiplayer game. It’s nothing but replay. Good thing it’s fun enough for me to want to replay it over and over. The game is also suitable for anyone. Everyone can pick up the controller try, this game out and get some enjoyment. I can totally understand not wanting to get more invested in this game than just a couple casual matches here and there (That’s what my level of involvement is going to be) but that’s definitely fun, too. And for those who don’t want to play, watching this game (perhaps more than any other) is as equally enjoyable.

2904715-0008This has been one of the most exciting multiplayer experiences I’ve had in a good long time. I really like the idea of multiplayer games, but haven’t really gotten into one since Team Fortress 2. Rocket League maybe my newest one. Even if I don’t get to the point of becoming really good at it, I’m still going to follow it. I’ll continue to see what’s new and happening in the world of Rocket League and still play from time to time. But I’m honestly more interested in what this game becomes and in the people who really master it. I can’t wait to see what top level games will look like. Rocket League is going to be more than just a game; I can feel it. Its community will grow and grow, and I can see this becoming something really huge.RLScale

Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

-Jordan Kamm-