Ported to the Switch by Panic Button
Release Date: 13th September
Price as of Article: $19,99 19,99 Euros or £15,04 UK
There is no story here so let’s talk a little about Rocket leagues history. The game launched in 2015 and has since won over 150 awards. Awards, including Game of the Year, Best Sports Game, and Best Multiplayer Game. Rocket League has been released on PC and all major consoles. It has now made it’s way to the switch having been ported by Panic button who recently had their hand in the incredible Doom game. So I was expecting minimal problems here.
Rocket league has some really great music playing while you’re customising your vehicle or choosing which mode to play. There is a range of playlists to keep things fresh. The soundtrack is brilliant here, highlights such as Angel Wings (feat. Avianna Acid) by Mike Ault or Seeing What’s Next by Holywood Principle. In terms of Sound effects, they are great here from the cars smashing into one another and blowing up, hitting the ball itself to scoring one of those wonderful goals. The rush that you feel when you score is accompanied by a great commentator and a really cool sound. Psyonix has done a fantastic job on this front no doubt.
The performance of this game is what many people will be asking themselves I suspect. This like Doom was going to get a thorough inspection from players and like I said in my Doom review I think people will also buy this for the portability, not for the graphical fidelity. This is a game which is not as visually demanding as some of the other games which have made it to Switch recently and therefore this plays at a glorious 60fps in both handheld and docked mode. For those of you interested in frame rates.
The game does perform for the most part well in both docked and handheld mode but there were a few times when I noticed some slowdown and the Switch title of Rocket League has had compromises.
If this is a game you want to play with maximum resolution then you will need to get it on a decent specced PC but then you will be tethered to it and won’t have that portability. The game is also available on the Xbox One and PS4 which I am sure some of you will already own. It’s a case of taking a reduction in the graphical detail for the portability. In fact, the Switch version has been stripped down quite a bit and the cars don’t look as detailed as in other versions but it’s not as important here. It’s the gameplay which really counts.
You will have to make sure you have a decent internet connection to play this game but I am sure many of you will be aware that this is purely an online experience. There were no issues that I encountered so the online experience is very stable.
There is a wealth of customisation options here for your car and I really love to see that in games such as these. Each car can be colour coded to your heart’s content, alloys can be changed and you can even add your own flag from your country. You have choices of vans all the way to buggies. You can even customise what happens when you score a goal to the colour of your boost. It’s all here and don’t forget the Switch gets the wonderful Mario, Luigi and Metroid cars. There is a nice touch where you can apply Mario’s or Luigi’s hats to other vehicles.
Rocket League® combines football or soccer with driving in a physics-based multiplayer-focused sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars! Choose from a variety of high-flying vehicles equipped with huge rocket boosters to score amazing aerial goals and pull off incredible, game-changing saves.
That’s what this game in essence is. When you read that on paper you think to yourself what could be more fun than playing football with cars. It sounds absolutely bonkers but this is a phenomenon which has been a massive success already.
I will admit that it took me an awfully long time to get the basics right. Like real football, the game is all about positional play and I got that pretty quickly. If you chase the ball all the time you will no doubt ruin the match for your teammates. Its all about knowing when to defend and when to attack. When to go for the ball and not. Waiting for that pass from a teammate only for you to time the perfect boost and jump to smash the ball into the goal. There is no better feeling!
This is a game that you will have to go through the tutorial first as it’s invaluable to learn the basics. For those of you new to Rocket league your car drives as any normal car would but it has incredible boost thrusts which you can top up your meter with by driving over the orange boost top-ups on the field.
Pressing B allows your car to jump and pressing it again will allow it to double jump. Pressing B and then the directional button in any direction will thrust the car in that direction in the Air. Add in the boost and you can pretty much fly the car if you need too. The only difficulty I found is applying these mechanics to the fast and frantic game itself. That’s not to say it’s a negative as such, it’s just to say it’s not easy at first. Like any new skill, you have to be willing to put in the time to learn it. The physics of a ball moving around and trying to master your own vehicles move set and then applying this to a match situation can take people hundreds of hours to become good.
The moves are all easy to pick up and the controls are super tight here. Take all of this into an arena with 3 or 4 human players and things become difficult. This is one of those games that you will only become decent at if you are prepared to put the time in and learn. Only with experience will you get better and there will be a frustrating amount of losses when you first start. The learning curve here is steep because there is no campaign to get you accustomed. A tutorial and then you are thrust into matches.
You can turn off cross-platform so that you will only play with other players, playing the Switch which is welcome. The main mode here is the 3 v 3 standard games but you also have 2 v 2 doubles 1 v 1 duel and 4v4 chaos. My favourite is 3 v 3 as it just feels right to me. Solo was my least favoured as to me football even with cars is a team sport.
You can play against randoms or with friends super easily here which is great news. You can play locally and also set up private matches so that’s all covered here.
There are other modes here too which are also all pretty fun, I really liked Rumble where there is a whole host of power-ups added to the game, from having spikes on your car so you can attach the ball and run it into the goal to freezing the ball. Really awesome and adds a different outlook to matches.
You also have Snowday which turns the ball into a massive puck for some different physics, 2 v2 hoops where you have to be pretty food in the air to get the ball into those large hoops. Drop shot you had to make the floor disintegrate beneath and would score by getting the ball in the hole made. This was my least favoured of the modes. Rocket labs has you playing in some experimental arenas.
You can play casual games or ranked matches but I was not quite good enough for that yet. Needed a lot more practice for sure but it’s great that you can be as competitive as your skill level allows. That’s the thing about this game, you will always learn and get better over time and as the skill ceiling is so high I can imagine why some people have played this continuously over a 2 year period.
This is just a super fun competitive multiplayer game in which cars have to get a ball in the opponents net. Until you play this no amount of video or written reviews will be able to substitute what it feels like to play. Its something special that the devs have obviously put a huge amount of love into. As you finish each match more often than not you will unlock a cool piece of customisation for your car. All the items are vanity items which keep matches for the most part really balanced. Sometimes you will come against teams who are higher ranked than you which sometimes seems a little unfair but then I would rather play a match than wait for someone of an equal skill level to me.
There is also the ability to buy vanity items for your car which are about £1.12 each which is fine by me as it’s completely optional and not a pay to win model which I dislike.
This for me is one of the best multiplayer experiences on Switch right now other than Splatoon 2. So in terms of value, to get a polished game like this for £15 to me is an absolute bargain. You will want to start to rank up through the skill levels and will spend many many hours doing that. People have started channels based on this one game getting hundreds of thousands of subscribers so this has a huge following. The fact that it offers cross-platform will probably mean you will always have people to play against. On top of that this game is heavily supported with updates from Psyonix so I would expect patches in future.
There is no doubting the value here and the only question you may have is whether a physical version is worth waiting for.