After its release on the PlayStation 4 and Steam last July, Rocket League
went on to surprise many people by becoming one of the most talked about titles of the year, receiving rave reviews and numerous awards along the way. Finally, after an eight month wait, Xbox One owners got the chance to experience what all the excitement was about when the game hit the Xbox LIVE store just over a week ago. Can it possibly live up to the hype received from both gamers and the media alike?
The idea behind Rocket League
is incredibly simple. Football (or soccer) takes place in enclosed arenas with turbo-charged vehicles replacing the human players. Matches can vary in size from 1 vs.1 up to 4 vs. 4, with the idea being to hit a large and very bouncy ball into the opposition's goal more times than they do within a five-minute time limit. While that sounds incredibly simple and straightforward, it doesn’t come close to describing how well the game is designed or how slick everything looks and feels, from the speed of the game’s menus to the physics of the ball. Most importantly, it doesn't explain how much fun and excitement is offered by the gameplay. What Rocket League
actually provides is an addictive and extremely well-designed multiplayer game that will keep you coming back for more.
One of Rocket League
’s biggest plus points is how simple it is to play. Anyone who can pick up a controller will quickly understand the controls and will be able to hit the ball around the arena. In addition to the controls that you’d expect from any game involving cars, the ones in Rocket League
come with added extras. Cars are able to jump and double jump to manoeuvre in mid-air, performing somersaults and flips to assist in hitting the ball in your desired direction. Power boosts that are dotted around the track can also be collected to build up your rocket meter, which provides a temporary increase in speed. While players will have a lot of fun doing this, there’s also a lot of scope in learning the physics of the game and truly understanding how to play.
It might be a while before you master aerial shots
At the start, you’ll be playing against other "Rookie" level players. The matches resemble a group of energetic school children kicking a ball around a playground, with every player chasing the ball in chaotic fashion. Quite often you’ll miss the ball completely and it will rarely go in the intended direction when you do manage to get a touch, perhaps even bouncing into your own goal. As you play more and come across more skillful players, you’ll start to understand the physics of the ball and your vehicle more, and realise that reading the game and positioning yourself accordingly will offer greater returns than playing hit and rush. There’s also a lot of possibility for finesse with anything from dribbling and passing to bicycle kicks and volleys, something possible even from the limited number of controls.
Multiplayer is where the game truly shines and it is where the real replayablity will come for most, offering more than a few memorable moments that are perfect for the Xbox One’s "record that" function. There are other options available, though. Season mode is the game’s true single player offering, allowing you to personalise the team size, difficulty level and match length. Here you’ll be playing with AI team mates against AI opposition; while they might not be on the same level as playing against other people, they are competent enough to make matches interesting, especially on harder difficulties. There is also an Exhibition mode that offers similar customisation to Season mode, but it has the added bonus of being able to play with or against friends, and the addition of mutators that allow everything to be changed, from the match length to ball and car physics, in a wide range of possibilities.
Multiplayer will offer more than a few "Xbox, record that" moments
Customisation is one of Rocket League
’s other main features. While the changes are purely cosmetic and don’t alter the performance of any of the cars, the added layer of personalisation makes for some amusing and interesting combinations. After each game and through general progression, you are drip-fed a steady stream of new cars (some of which are exclusive to the Xbox One), wheel designs, decals, rocket trails and toppers - hats that can be placed on top of your vehicle - with which you can play around in your garage to your heart's content. Visually the game is extremely appealing. Each of the 14 available cars offers a cartoon like appearance and each of the different arenas offer different visuals while offering exactly the same gameplay. The game’s sound has had a similar amount of attention, with an extremely catchy sound track playing in the menus and crowds that seem to react to the action being played out in front of them.
One consolation for Xbox One owners who have been eagerly awaiting Rocket League
's arrival on this platform is that it provides the most content in exchange for your money. All but one of the DLC packs that have been released on other systems are pre-packaged with the game. The only real omission is that the Xbox One version doesn’t have the same cross-platform play that was offered on PC and Playstation 4. At the moment this doesn’t seem to be an issue with the large number of players, but it could impact the game further down the line. So far, the only technical issue has been that the game seems to freeze on occasion, requiring you to quit and restart in order to get back into the action. While it’s certainly not ideal and is annoying when it occurs, it’s thankfully not a regular occurrence. The developer has already acknowledged the issue, promising a fix once they can nail down the cause.
Customisation even allows for hats
The majority of Rocket League
’s achievements are extremely quick and easy due to the fact that you can unlock a large number of them in Exhibition mode, which allows you to play alone or adjust the game with mutators to increase your chances of completing the required tasks. The only one that will take some time is Far, Far Away..
. This requires you to have driven a total of 50 km and will take some time to do so.
It might have taken a while for Rocket League
to appear on the Xbox One, but the wait was worth it. The simplistic design of the game makes it extremely easy to pick up and play for newcomers, while at the same time allowing players to develop their skill and understanding of the game through practice. There is an issue with the game occasionally locking up, but that shouldn’t detract from the enjoyment and excitement that the game provides on a far more often basis. If you've already played the game extensively on other platforms prior to its launch on the Xbox One then there's nothing new on offer. For anyone that hasn’t tried Rocket League
yet, it’s an absolute masterpiece of a multiplayer game that really has to be experienced to be truly understood.
- Extremely easy to pick up and play
- Slick and polished design and gameplay
- Addictive and fun multiplayer
- Includes the majority of DLC from other platforms
- Occasional freezing
- Lack of cross-play with other platforms
The reviewer spent 18 hours playing each of Rocket League's available game modes, becoming slightly better at hitting the ball in the intended direction towards the end and earning all of the game's 44 achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for purpose of review.