Release date: November 14, 2017
Developer: Psyonix / Panic Button
Rocket League has seen tremendous growth in popularity and players over the past few years since its original release, and also now cements itself as one of the largest eSports franchises in the world. At the same time, it remains easy to pick up and play for the casual gamer to enjoy. Although we’ve seen a surge in online multiplayer titles for quite awhile now, Rocket League maintains a dedicated and respectful consumer base thanks to its low cost of entry, hours of fun, and, most importantly, no pay-to-win nonsense. The cars won’t run faster, but having something like the Batmobile will definitely make you look cooler than most out on the field (besides the incredible Metroid car, of course).
For those who somehow haven’t heard of Rocket League by this point, Psyonix has taken two genres and fused them into a simplistic, and arcade-like manner to make an easy game to jump into, but difficult to master if you’re looking to get into the competitive side of things. The sport of soccer meets crazy cars with rockets where players have one task: Get the ball into the goal. Beyond this, there aren’t any rules. No fouls, no “half-time” nonsense, no overly delusional fans saying “my team” despite not having any financial investment. Rocket League is pure fun from choosing a wide variety of made-up RC cars and customizing the cars to have a certain flag, accessory, goal pyro, decal, and much more, to the various game types that allow you to play in frenetic matches that make you smile and laugh through and through.
The standard game type of Rocket League will be a three-versus-three, five minute match between a blue team and an orange team set on a randomized field from a selection of maps that each have their own flavor, aesthetic, and size, making each game of Rocket League feel unique and special regardless of who you’re playing with online or off. Mechanics go beyond the standard car themed title, and incorporate tons of different moves and styles that players can practice and grow upon to help them get the advantage out on the field. Rockets on cars aren’t just for boosting, but can be utilized to go airborne, punting the ball, ramming into other players to potentially make them explode and keeping them out of the match for a few seconds, and tons more. Cars can flip forwards and backwards allowing for speed and momentum, while also allowing the ability to dodge, perform bicycle kicks, do crazy maneuvers over the opposing team, and basically whatever else you can think of. Cars in Rocket League allow you to become acrobatic, and it feels great once you get the controls down. It takes some getting used to, but once the easy to learn, hard to master ideology of the game starts to sink in, everything clicks and feels right, and the organized chaos keeps things at the edge of your seat but still full of fun and excitement. Regardless if you win or lose, you’re always looking forward to the next match.
Performance-wise, Rocket League is consistent at 60 frames per second, making for a fluid experience that accentuates the tempestuous nature of the game, but there are hiccups that occur from time to time depending on your internet connection, if you suspend the game and reenter, open up chat, and other occurrences. I’ve had times when, between chatting and opening up the menu, the game became so gritty and low resolution I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me, the ball turned into a pixel, and it made 3DS games look HD, but thankfully when this did happen it’d only be for a few seconds at a time before correcting itself. This can vary from match to match for a multitude of reasons.
If you’ve played Rocket League on other platforms before – in my case PC – then you’ll notice immediately upon booting it up that Rocket League isn’t winning any awards in the graphics category for Switch’s library. It’s… problematic, almost. The constant fluctuation between upscaling and downscaling its resolution in seemingly sporadic ways can become and eyesore at times, but thankfully Psyonix and Panic Button have said they do plan on continuously optimizing the game post-launch, so let’s hope these issues get taken care of in due time.
The Joy-Con are also fine to play Rocket League with, but sometimes the games get so intense I found myself squeezing rather hard and worrying if I was being too rough, so I’d switch (no pun intended) to a Pro Controller or my wired Mario controller, where it felt much more comfortable and appropriate, especially with analog triggers over the digital found on the Joy-Con. Obviously in handheld mode there’s not much choice but to use the Joy-Con – unless you’re in tabletop mode of course – and while it’s fine and gets the job done, it’s certainly not the most ideal.
Between all the different modes available, customization options, and endless amounts of fun, Rocket League is a must-have for those looking for that epic title suitable for all play styles and schedules. With the power of the Switch and its hybrid properties, whether at a party, with the family, friends, or alone, Rocket League is an easy pick-me-up title and quick in-and-out gaming that will appease racing and arcade enthusiasts with tons of feel good moments, solid controls, and addictive gameplay that can essentially last forever, with a respectable community and great developers behind the wheel looking to further drive Rocket League into superstardom and eSports royalty alongside the likes of Overwatch and others.
Rocket League has clearly made some sacrifices to be on Switch. You’ll need to deal with the unflattering resolutions in both docked and handheld modes with noticeable dips in quality during certain instances like loading into games or typing into chat. However, Rocket League is undoubtedly one of the most fun titles Switch has to offer at the moment, and is extremely awesome to have on the console hybrid. With countless hours of entertainment, an easy to learn premise, an overwhelming amount of customization options and endless possibilities, Rocket League – especially for $20 – is one of the best packages in gaming that money can buy. Whether you like racing, sports, being competitive, relaxing, or arcade games, Rocket League hits all the right spots to make it accessible for anyone and everyone looking for a good time.
Rocket League review copy provided by Psyonix for the purposes of this review.