Nindie Preview: Rocket League


Of all the upcoming Indie titles coming to the Nintendo Switch there’s none that I’m more genuinely excited for than Rocket League. Not so much for the opportunity to play it, my current logged game time for it on Steam stands at 491 hours, but for the opportunity for more people to be able to share in what I consider to be my favorite competitive “sports” game ever.

Ooooh yeah…

At it simplest level the game sounds a bit silly: Rocket-powered cars, playing soccer (or some variant) in a closed arena. Uhm… yeah. Well, I’m here to tell you that once you get your first goal off the wall or manage to make a daring last-second save you may just get hooked in. Getting started can be a challenge. Figuring out whether you want to play with your eyes ahead or on the ball (though it is confusing at first this view is highly recommended), learning to “feel” where the goal is, and working to develop your aerial skills are all important but there’s one thing probably more important than any other: Learning to figure out and play to where the ball is or will be going instead of simply chasing it (Damn you crowders and ball chasers, don’t be one of these people!).

Getting past technique there are a pretty crazy variety of ways to play, and the great news is that on a periodic basis Psyonix has continued to add new modes. Not all of them are great or popular, but I appreciate the continued effort they’ve put into the game a good 2 years in and there’s no sign of them stopping. First you have the standard matches, whether played casually or ranked, going from 1 v 1 up to 3 v 3. These are the bread and butter matches and where I personally (in ranked, typically 3 v 3) spend the majority of my time. In addition there’s a 4 v 4 and aptly-named Chaos mode, Hoops mode (somewhat as silly as the one in ARMS and I’ve never had much fun with it), Snow Day mode (replace the ball with a hockey puck), Rumble mode (my favorite alternative mode with a variety of ridiculous power-ups to spice the game up), and the newest mode called Dropshot (the arena floor for either team can be damaged by the ball, eventually falling away, the holes then become “goals”). Bottom line, there’s probably something for everyone and you can keep things from getting stale pretty easily.

Boots, boxing gloves, spikes… anything goes in Rumble Mode

There is a also a single-player Season mode, assuming it would come to the Switch as well, and it does do a fair job of putting you up against Bots that can play a generally good game. This is the place to hone your skills a bit after hitting the basic Training Mode that will cover fundamentals. Online play, as always, can be a “dangerous” place when your skills are lacking, though thankfully as a whole I consider the Rocket League community about the most consistently polite among the online games I’ve played. If you don’t have ready access to online play this mode can serve you well enough but you’d really be missing out on the best the game has to offer.

Dropshot is a game spent mostly in the air

I can (and probably would) talk all day about the game but in the end you’ll have to check things out for yourself to make up your mind. Even with all the hours I’ve put in, and with the skills I’ve developed, there is still a significant amount of technique the people who are very good at the game have over me. Some of the aerial goals you’ll see will simply blow you away and the good news is that if you get up your courage and refine your skills you’ll find that you can pull those moves off as well. It’s when you connect on those crazy impulses and score or block that the game makes you a fan, you just need to have the nerve to try.

This preview is based off of the current PC version of the game. There is no announced date or final list of features for the Switch version but cross-platform play has been confirmed so it should be comparable in what it offers.

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