Other Titles: Gears of War, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Bulletstorm
Genre: Vehicular Soccer
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC/Mac, Nintendo Switch (later)
There are genres of video games for everyone. Literally every single person that walks this Earth. You like trading seashells on a fictitious island that's run by a raccoon? There's a game for you! You like playing a game as a alien(monster?) figure high in the sky where the only objective is to knock other players off the map? There's a game for you! You want to play a game of soccer as a RC car where you can do tricks and pimp your ride? Well, let's talk about that game...
Rocket League was released back in the day - almost six years ago, in fact - as a game that was going to take the eSports world by storm. It was billed as this fast-paced "racing"-type game that introduced soccer into the mix. It was an interesting premise. Fast forward all of those years and the free-to-play model of the game, which was launched back in September 2020, is just as polished and just as fun as when the game first launched.
Two teams of cars begin a given match by driving aimlessly around an enclosed arena attempting to get a giant ball in their respective nets on the other end of the arena. There's a timer (usually around 5 minutes) and the team with the most points at the end of the match wins. Simple. You can pick and choose what type of player you want to play as, and keep in mind that the game is best played as a traditional soccer type role (forward, midfield, fullback). While playing the game, that's how I set out to play the game; defender stays back and defends the net, midfielder is responsible for getting the ball up to the forwards, forwards primary responsibility is scoring. If you choose to play a more chaotic game, where every car is simply just driving around hitting the ball in an unknown direction just hoping to get the ball in the net, your gameplay experience probably won't be as deep as playing a traditional role. Now in order to actually get good at the game you'll have to master the intricate details of how the vehicles operate, the gravity in the game, timing jumps, timing your boosts, how do you hit the ball while it's in the air, where you hit the ball...it's all important in mastering the game. That's pretty much it. It's fun.
Psyonix making this game free-to-play is a way to keep the game fresh and shows evolution in the gaming market to stay relevant. I feel that evolution maintains itself with the game's microtransactions as they are purely cosmetic. There are no pay-to-win models here. That's a reason the game will maintain its fun-factor. You can purchase different skins for your car; there have been sales where you can purchase a skin that makes your vehicle look like the Delorean from the Back to the Future films, or puts a "M" on your car and changes the paint schemes to look like Mario, there's the Batmobile, Jurassic Park Jeep, or perhaps the ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters. It's a cool collection of skins that provide joy rather than give you a competitive advantage.
Picking up a controller and playing for an hour, getting some ranked matches in, and then putting the controller down is probably the best way to approach this game. It's not a game that you'll likely play for hours and hours on end, but rather play a couple of matches daily - maybe with friends or just randomly - and then do something else. The fact that the game is still so fun to play six years after its initial launch is a testament to the developers and the game's core base. The market for this game is clearly still there.
Seal of Approval?
While some gamers may be a bit perturbed that this game went free-to-play only a few years after some (Nintendo gamers) spent $50 on it, it's still one of the best "sports" games out there and the fact that you can download it for free and jump right in and experience the fun is so great. It's one of the best F2P models and gets the coveted Budget Arcade Seal of Approval.