Tucked away at the Sony booth at E3 is the soccer-car craziness that is Rocket League. This PS4 and PC title looks to bring a whole new spin to arena-based car action. The basic idea is that a mix of up to eight human and CPU racers can speed around an arena using customizable cars, all the while trying to knock a crazy-looking soccer ball into the opposing team’s net.
The wrinkle is that while you speed around the course, you can double-tap the cross button to execute end-over-end flips. It’s even possible to ride up the side of the course or fly around if you time your spins right. The team that scores the most goals wins, of course.
Here are my quick thoughts on the game:
-The game has a good sense of speed, and even though we only played with four total players (two human, two CPU), it was fun to develop a bit of teamwork. One player might hang back, while the other could mix it up with two cars who are on the defensive.
-There’s a meaningful sense of accomplishment when you do score a goal, as the ball can just miss the net in agonizing fashion quite often. It’s really rewarding to save a ball from going in by spinning into it, robbing an opponent of a sure goal.
-To that end, the ways you can spin, fly and ramp around on the side of the map are seemingly endless. By manipulating your spins on the cross button, you can even fly up high in the arena, chasing after a ball that’s hanging in the air.
-The controls felt great. It was quite easy to get going with the boosting and steering, and power-ups on the tracks would give you more boost to use. Even the finesse moves off of the cross button felt good after a few minutes.
-There are different levels of bot skill, which means you can just have basic pylon-like drones or fairly complex CPU helpers. It was cool seeing bots actually leap after the ball with their car and save a certain goal on occasion.
-Multiplayer seems to offer split-screen support for up to four people on one console. Eight unique online players can also play online.
-Each car can be customized, with different colors, decals, props and tires. All of these elements added some amusing personality to each of the rides.
Chase Becotte: I'm just hopping in to say a couple more things:
-I love games that focus on a singular idea and just try to nail it. Rocket League is doing that. It's a simple concept -- smash a ball into a soccer net via car -- that's easy to grasp and still has depth for days.
-Seriously, you smash a soccer ball into a net with a car, what's the issue here?
-If you load up on your turbo and nail an opposing vehicle with the front side of your car, you can make that other car explode. It provides a tactical advantage on top of feeling rewarding.
-You pick from different cars, but you're really just picking for aesthetic and not tactical reasons. All cars handle and drive the same, just the hit boxes change a bit based on the car's size.
-Have I mentioned you're playing soccer with cars?
Chase Becotte: Dope game is dope. I'm all-in day one.
Glenn Wigmore: It’s really encouraging to see such a promising concept that is based on a simple, pure idea. The gameplay feel is totally right, and the customization and multiplayer suite seem like they will fit the bill. There was even talk of a single-player season, and various arenas were available to spice things up. Count me in.