What Makes Rocket League So Good?

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Posted July 17, 2015 by Ryan Campbell in Video Games

Do you have a PS4? Have you played Rocket league?  If not go, go now and download it. Play for approximately 30-40 minutes and come back, I’ll wait… I know right!

Rocket league is the new sensation to sweep through the PS Plus Instant Game Collection and give us a rocket powered bicycle kick to the heart. It’s simplistic beauty is the absolute essence of what gaming at its core should be, damn good fun. A concept that can be fit on a post it note coupled with rock solid physics gives us an enjoyable experience that you get within minutes of playing the game. Often games like this come and we love them but we can’t always put our finger or adequately articulate why we love them.  Well I wanted to take some time to analyze just what is in the secret sauce of Rocket League.

It all starts with the feel, we gamers are a nostalgic bunch and we love when games take us back to the glory days. Developers have both shared this sentiment and attempted to capitalize on it but do they truly get it? It seems that they have gotten lazy in that throwing  game in two dimensions with a “bit” look equals “Retro” and cash. While yes this sometimes is great it doesn’t hit the core of what makes those memories so fond. It wasn’t the look of those games of yesteryear that stuck with me it was the accessibility and fun. In this respect Rocket league is the most retro game going, it takes a basic notion and builds a simple solid experience around it. It’s unfathomably accessible, players who have been playing for 15 minutes or for 15 hours can for the most part play on a somewhat equal level and have fun. No upgrades, skill trees, faster cars, everyone is for the most part equal. I have read that as a criticism in some reviews but I believe it is what keeps Rocket League so simple and fun. Why complicate matters and widen the gap between players, other than experience a level playing field is presented. There is nothing better than that first time you pull of a ridiculous trick shot goal that you’re almost certain you could’t do again with 100 tries. Everyone gets a glory moment in Rocket League. The game does what many retro games fail to do blend what made games of old so special with modern physics, tech and features; you will wear out the share button in this game.

Another factor that lends to it’s enjoyment is the break neck pace. Games take only a few minutes and then by the time you catch your breathe the next game is starting. Heck the game doesn’t even wait around to find players, if there is a gap on the teams and it can’t find anyone fast it throws an AI player in. The AI is actually pretty good and even if it’s not another game is only a few minutes away. It’s like the good folks over there at Psyonix got together and said “What do gamers want to do?” They stroked their developer beards for many minutes and someone stuck up an index finger and said “I got it, play the game!” There is no nonsense of fluff just awesome experiences over and over again. I can think of a few times I said it would be my last game only to be to slow and another one start to which I say “Ok one more can’t hurt.”

Lastly in the concoction of rocket powered fun is excellent physics. A great concept and idea is only as good as the bones you build it around and this game has it. What I’m sure is far more complicated than it seems everything works nice and in perfect balance of skill but not insane difficulty. Power slides, boosts, flips all feel rewarding and authentic. It’s the definition of not knowing whats going on under the hood, we just play and it works but I’m sure many hours were put into fine tuning how much boost, how far, how high and all the other factors that lend to game flow and balance. Kudos to Psyonix for getting it so right.

So there you have it, feel, accessibility and a solid core all lend to one of the breakout experiences of the year so far. I generally feel sorry for Batman as this little game came in with a boosted barrel roll and knocked him right out of my hands. I can’t take credit for this but I’m gonna steal it because I can’t remember who said it “If I see one of the devs on the street I will give them 10 dollars because I fell like I stole this game.”

So true.


About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.