Rocket League review
This year has been full of big name titles including Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Project Cars and GTA V (for PC) but one of the best games we've played is as simple as a remote control car version of football. Here's our Rocket League review. See also: Best PC games of 2015 so far.
Rocket League is the sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars and is available on Steam and PS4 for just £14.99.
Rocket League Rumble
Rocket League is heading into Mario Kart territory with the latest free update. Rumble will be released in September injecting a whole load of chaos into the already frantic game.
Online playlists and Private and Exhibition matches will get Rumble which introduces items/weapons just like those iconic question mark boxes in Mario Kart. Power-ups will include things like Grappling Hook, Tornado and Freezer. See below for details of the 11 new items and check out the Rumble Trailer at the top of the page.
• The Boot - Kicks an opponent's car
• Disruptor - Forces your opponent to drive uncontrollably
• Freezer - Freezes the ball in-place
• Grappling Hook - Pulls you towards the ball
• Haymaker - Punches the ball
• Magnetizer - Attracts the ball to your car
• Plunger - Grabs the ball via plunger and cord
• Power Hitter - Allows you to hit everything harder
• Spike - Attach the ball to your car when you bump into it
• Swapper - Change positions on the field with your opponent
• Tornado -Sweep up the ball and opposing cars into a giant funnel cloud
Rocket League review: The learning curve
Although Rocket League has a very simple premise, it's very difficult to play at first. As with most games there are tutorials to teach you the controls and various manoeuvres which will come in handy but some of these can be hard to get your head round.
We found the best way to learn is on the job so after completing the tutorials, simply playing matches will enable you to discover how the game works.
Pick a car and join a match and you'll be put into a huge (since the car is small) stadium where the football is about 10 times the size of your vehicle and the pitch is encased by walls and a ceiling. Add to that pads dotted around the pitch which give you boost whenever you need it and you're in for an action packed ride. The ball starts in the middle with cars starting on different spawn points so you start by charging towards it hoping to get the first touch.
To begin with, just hitting the ball is something of an achievement. It spends a lot of time in the air so you'll end up charging at it, firing your car into the air (it can jump and double jump), and missing. But it's hugely satisfying when you do – especially if it's towards the correct goal!
Once you've got a good number of matches under your belt you'll have a good understanding of how the ball moves, the angles at which it will bounce off the walls and when to launch your car at it to pass, save or score.
Rocket League review: Modes, matches and online pros and cons
You can choose which type of match you'd like to play which a choice of ranked or non-ranked games. Matches are then solo, doubles, 3v3 or chaos (4v4) with the middle two being our most used for a balance of action, goals and getting a touch of the ball.
Each match lasts five minutes, with overtime if the score is equal at the end. In this case it's first goal wins. That's a good length of time as it feels long enough to get into the match, and pull off a comeback if you need to but also means you can fit a lot into a short space –your lunch break, for example.
Online play is really what Rocket League is all about but you can also choose to play an Exhibition match if you want or Season which is more like a traditional league to play though against AI teams.
One thing we have noticed is that there is a lot less abuse compared to other online games. You get a set of predefined things you can say 'Nice Goal' and 'Take the shot' for example which you can access with shortcuts. There's also the option to type a message but there really isn't time in such a fast paced game.
A negative is that you occasionally get matches where players leave as soon as they concede a goal – so sometimes you'll be put into an ongoing match and you're losing without even moving your car an inch. Players in this position often leave straight away so it can get a bit silly.
We also found that server performance is very good – only in one or two matches have we had any problems at all over a number of weeks playing.
Rocket League review: Cars, items, points and achievements
Apart from the sheer fun of playing, there are various things which will keep you coming back for more.
As you might expect there are different cars to choose from – they don't have different stats such as speed and handling but their physical shape and size has an effect on your gameplay. You can customise each one by choosing your preferred colour for each team (red and blue) and that's just the start.
You can choose the paint finish, there are decals to unlock, wheels, different booster effects including rainbow, bubbles and snowflakes (which also have different sound effects), antennas and there are also toppers to give your ride some personality.
A modern game wouldn't be complete without achievements so you get ones for scoring goals, making saves and other unsurprising things. However, some are rather more difficult like hitting an opponent into the ball to score.
Within matches you'll get points for different things which adds an element of competitiveness – even within your team. Small things like getting the first touch and clearing the ball will get you 10 or 20 points while saving or scoring will get you 50 and 100 respectively. The player in the match with the most points is the MVP and you'll find you unlock a new item at the end of most matches – at least for quite a while.
More points also mean levelling up – you have a rank number but players are also split into Rookie, Semi- Pro and Pro so you'll be matched up online with similarly skilled players.
Rocket League: Specs
At under £15 Rocket League is an absolute bargain. Yes, it's difficult to learn but once you get the hang of it, it's really hard to stop – it's got that 'one more match' draw to it. Add in the fun of the customisations, achievements and point system and there're lots of reasons to come back for more. Our only real quibble is players being able to leave matches too easily ending up in some wasted matches won by forfeit.