The majority of Rocket League players will jump straight into one of it’s online modes. There’s two types of online play; ranked and unranked. At present, up to 6 players can be involved in ranked modes, and up to 8 in unranked. Online contests are hosted on dedicated servers, which have struggled since launch. It’s safe to say that neither Sony nor Psyonix were quite prepared for the demand that would surround the game at release, and they appear to have been working around the clock to rectify the various issues.
When the servers are working, it’s a super-smooth online experience, and online contests are addictive, competitive battles.
When the servers are working, it’s a super-smooth online experience, and online contests are addictive, competitive battles. For ranked modes, there’s leaderboards which track progress, in addition to skill levels, which increase and decrease based on your win-rate, and it all affects the matchmaking system. Up to four local split-screen players can also join the online experience if they wish. There’s no online season or tournament mode at present, and although the game feels fresh and exciting at the moment, it’d add an element of longevity if Psyonix are able to implement this in the future.
It came as a surprise to everyone when Psyonix announced that Rocket League would have cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4 and PC, and apart from the various server issues that may have left Psyonix cursing themselves at choosing to include this feature, when the servers are active, cross-play appears to be functioning perfectly. Unfortunately, the big omission at the moment is that PS4 players cannot invite their PC friends to private matches, due to a limitation that prevents Psyonix from implementing this. They are currently working on a solution, and it’s a high-priority issue for them.
For those who prefer to play offline, there’s a standard exhibition mode, and Season mode, which allows the player to compete over a multi-week season. The top teams at the end of the season are entered into a playoff structure, in order to crown a winner. Season mode is a nice change from standard matches, and its certainly functional, but don’t expect too much from it. It acts as a way of tracking stats over a number of games, and that’s it. Aside from this, there’s no other primary game modes. Its a shame, because solo offline play isn’t as gratifying as the online experience, and it would really benefit from some alternative options.
When you aren’t playing with friends, offline games contain AI bots, which come with various types of difficulty. The easiest of these is Rookie, and it features some incredibly dumb AI. They’ll regularly forget all logic and drive the ball straight into their own goal, and this also goes for your own teammates who you’ll have to intercept regularly, as they travel down a path of self-destruction towards their own net. This kind of behavior still exists on the Pro difficulty level, albeit not as much, and All Star bots are much-improved, often making clever plays which may infuriate you with their accuracy, although they are still prone to the odd mistake.
Rocket League rewards you for your play-time in the form of XP, which goes towards your current skill level. Another benefit to completing a match is that the game will gift you new items for your car after each session. These items are completely random, and they can be applied in the Garage – a customizable suite of features for your car. There’s multiple options at your disposal, from changing the car body-type, to adding a new antenna to the roof. PlayStation 4 players get the added bonus of being able to select the Sweet Tooth car from the Twisted Metal series (when they’ve unlocked it), and we’ll be getting new car body-types in the future via DLC. Again, all of these changes are purely cosmetic in the interest of fairness, but they exist in order to give your car an identity, and they’re an extra incentive to keep playing.
There’s multiple options at your disposal, from changing the car body-type, to adding a new antenna to the roof.
Extra features include an in-depth training mode, which can teach goalie, striker and aerial techniques, as well as a basic tutorial and free play. There’s a detailed stats option which records everything from the total number of matches played, to the total number of bicycle kick goals, and there’s a clever replay editor, in which you can import footage from full matches and create highlights using a variety of editing tools. In the options screen, there’s a bunch of settings to alter the camera to suit your style, and you can also customize the control scheme to suit your needs.
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Psyonix Studios have created a game which has benefited from over 8 years of knowledge, and the result is an almost flawless gameplay experience. The downside of being a small studio is that Psyonix have been unable to implement any extra game modes, which are currently a bit thin on the ground. There aren’t many downsides to Rocket League though, and they’ve pulled off an impressive feat to add cross-platform play and the addition of local split-screen support throughout the game. The excellent in-game mechanics combine together to create one of the most addictive and fun multiplayer experiences on the market, with enough depth to ensure that it will be played for years to come.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.