Few titles look more poised to explode in 2016 than Rocket League. It’s a gem of an indie game, featuring some of the most enjoyable gameplay I’ve experienced in recent memory. But don’t just take my word for it!
Check out some of the accolades this breakout hit has already acquired:
- Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay – 2016 DICE Awards
- Sports Game of the Year – 2016 DICE Awards
- DICE Sprite Award – 2016 DICE Awards
- Best Multiplayer – The PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2015
- Best Independent Game – The Game Awards 2015
- Best Sports Game – The Game Awards 2015
- Best Multiplayer Game – IGN People’s Choice 2015
And the list goes on!
Since its release on July 7 of 2015, Rocket League has been nominated for more than 100 “Game of the Year” awards. While at the 2016 DICE Awards this past week, Rocket League beat out titles like Destiny: The Taken King, Halo 5: Guardians, and EA Sports FIFA 2016 on its path to winning all three of its nominations.
So what exactly is the winning formula that game developer Psyonix Studios has nailed down?
Let me break it down for you.
1. Rocket League is Easy to Learn
Rocket League’s secret to success is its easy-to-understand core concept: a single ball spawns in the middle of an enclosed arena. There are two separate teams, and each team has its own goal to defend. Players control cars and try to score the ball into the opposing team’s net by any means necessary. A goal awards a single point to the scoring team, and the team with the most points at the end of every 5-minute match is declared the winner.
This concept of one ball, two goals, and two teams can be found throughout many different sports, so any person who is familiar with games like soccer, football, or basketball should be able to immediately grasp what it takes for a team to win a Rocket League match. There’s no complicated skill trees or special abilities to get hung up on; anyone can pick up the game and immediately start trying to smash the ball across the opposition’s goal line.
2. Rocket League is Easy to Watch
Not only does its simple core gameplay concept make Rocket League very playable, it also makes it highly accessible as a spectator sport. Many people are already familiar with sports like soccer, so they should be able to pick up on what’s happening onscreen rather quickly. Even if they don’t understand the actual technical mechanics behind more high-level maneuvers like aerials and wall play, watching Rocket League cars soar through the air or make breathtaking goal-line saves is still sure to have newcomers on the edge of their seats.
Adding to the look and feel of being a real spectator sport, the virtual crowd populating the stadium seats react fluidly and realistically to in-game events. Like during a real-life sports match, the crowd reacts with gasps, cheers, and chants whenever players make spectacular plays. Adding to the frenzied environment, the soccer ball explodes in glorious fashion whenever a goal is scored, a buzzer fills the stadium with sound, and any cars caught near the goal line are blown back across the field. An instant replay immediately follows behind a scored point, highlighting key moments in slow motion for onlookers to relive the awesome moment once more before they move on to the next.
Ultimately, this all leads to viewers having the inevitable thoughts of, “this looks really fun!” and “I get what’s happening, and I bet I could play this.” The moment you think these things to yourself and strap into your rocket car of choice, Rocket League consumes you. As the game gains more exposure moving forward, its easy-to-watch nature is bound to gain it more souls– I mean players.
3. Rocket League is Difficult to Master
Once you’ve signed over your existence to Rocket League (totally worth it, by the way), you’ll gradually find that its tight and responsive controls lend to satisfying control over your vehicle. The ability to perform jumps, rolls, and flips, combined with the ability to use boost to not only propel your vehicle forward but also into the air, gives players a great degree of freedom in how they play the game.
Because of its responsive controls, Rocket League is able to reward players who dedicate time to mastering a strong command over their mechanics (how they manipulate the controls) with the satisfaction of becoming progressively better at advanced techniques. Things like wall play, dribbling, and aerials all require a solid understanding of proper timing and what all the controls do. The first time you dunk a ball over an opponent’s head and into their net, you will feel a great degree of satisfaction. What’s more, you’ll immediately be looking for ways to improve and do it even better.
Whenever you do something right or wrong, you typically have an understanding of why it turned out that way. Maybe you pressed the jump button too early, or perhaps you didn’t pull the analog stick back far enough for your aerial. No matter what it is you’re doing in the game, your actions on the controls are visibly translated onscreen in a very logical manner. This allows you to easily catalog what you did right, or what you need to spend some more time practicing.
4. Rocket League has Lots of Content & Active Developers
As if it weren’t already enough that their game is unbelievably addicting, pulling in a concurrent player count of over 185,000 across the PC, PS4, and XB1 platforms just 7 months after Rocket League’s release, the developers at Psyonix Studios are constantly injecting new content into the game. And there is a LOT of content.
To date, 7 downloadable cars have been released for purchase in DLC. 7 free maps have been released, and best of all, all future map releases will be free as well! Additionally, a whole plethora of new decals, paint types, boost trails, wheels, toppers, and antennas (more than I can count!) have been injected into the game, giving players to personalize their cars in crazy and imaginative ways. Psyonix roles this content out at a rapid pace with no signs of slowing down.
These Rocket League developers are constantly interacting with their playerbase, receiving feedback, responding to questions, and sharing development roadmaps via the @RocketLeague Twitter handle. It’s quite plain to see that Rocket League is their baby, and they are devoting huge amounts of effort into making sure that their players are happy.
“Mutator” modes give players the freedom to create wild private match game modes to keep the gameplay fresh and frenetic. Feel like the turning the soccer ball into a gigantic, slow-moving beach ball that barely fits into the net? Want to smack a hockey puck around at high speed in a low gravity environment? No problem! Mutators give players a variety of ways to enjoy Rocket League in their own way, and they are just another of the many elements that make this game special.
5. Rocket League is Ready to Blast Off
Rocket League’s popularity is still on the rise, and with so much fresh content and highly active developers, I can’t imagine that we will see a dip in this trend anytime soon. In fact, with many players speculating that Rocket League will take off as the next big eSport in 2016, I’m certain that this game is just waiting to break even more of its personal records and pocket more awards.
Because it’s so easy to watch and understand, I believe Rocket League is poised to be the next big thing in competitive eSports. Even if an individual is not a gamer, if they are a sports fan or are at least familiar with games like soccer, they can quickly grasp what is going on during a Rocket League match.
Rocket League has the potential to catch a far wider audience, and once you’ve seen it, you want to play it.
Do you think 2016 will be the year of Rocket League?
Will we see it break out onto the main stage of largescale eSports events?
If you’re like me and need to fill your life with even more Rocket League, be sure to drop by the NZXT Twitch channel every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am to 1pm PST! I’ll be there streaming Rocket League, and you can always follow me back to my Twitch channel for daily streams so you never miss out on rocket-powered soccer car action.
Thanks for reading, and go try this game!