Yes. Well, that’s the ultimate one-word answer to the question, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit more complicated than that. Ever since launching for free on PS4 back in July 2015, Rocket League has become far more than just a game. We’ve gone from it being a fun game about cars hitting a massive ball into nets, into one of the most spectacular esports around.
There’s a really entertaining arc throughout the lifetime of this game of people getting better and better at it. We’re not talking just about the fact that there are now pro players or the recent addition of the Super Sonic Legend rank, but about the fact that aerials weren’t really a thing when the game released initially, and you certainly weren’t going to see freestyling, Musty Flicks, or triple flip resets in your average match.
Fast-forward to 2021, a time when Rocket League is free-to-play and available on so many platforms, even the Nintendo Switch. This has, unsurprisingly, brought with it a whole host of new people, and there will be a lot of people who bounce off of it because Rocket League has a skill floor that feels unlike anything else.
That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true. Most games have an analogous game that you’ll have played that will have taught you some of the skills required to help your familiarity. Rocket League doesn’t.
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The One And Only
Rocket League endures through its simple concept and high skill ceiling
Rocket League is a force unto itself, and there are no games like it, not really, which makes it very hard to get into. Of course, the other people at your rank are most likely going to be at the same skill level as you, so you’ll still have fun, but a lot of Rocket League players have to practice and watch videos to pick up the skills needed to climb up through the ranks. Rocket League is a game for some people, but for others, it really is a sport.
I played Rocket League for a bit when it originally released, but it was only last year just before the free-to-play switch came that I actually got into Rocket League. This happened because my group of mates, which is to say the ones I play online games with, added in a new member who was Diamond-ranked with over 1,000 hours in the game. That, for the record, isn’t a lot of hours.
Since then, I’ve sunk over 300 hours into the game, and I’ve very handily climbed from Bronze to Diamond 2, which I’m incredibly happy with. Apparently, the average rank for RL is Gold 3, so I’m pretty stoked to be a few ranks above that, and yet, I still feel like I’m not really any good at it. I sort of know I’m not because I’m Diamond, but the skill ceiling for Rocket League is so monstrously and impossibly high, that it feels like I’m a toddler trying to play football. Not like, a gifted toddler who happens to be very good at football, just a normal one that tries to kick the ball and accidentally frontflips in a way that’s funny enough that you can submit it to You’ve Been Framed and win some money, but not so violently that you end up in A&E with the toddler looking like a terrible parent.
All of that probably sounds quite daunting, but the experience of playing and improving, while not unique to Rocket League, is particularly gratifying when you’re playing a game about rocket-power acrobatic cars hitting a gigantic ball into a net which then explodes into a bunny girl who dances for a bit. Something about climbing the ranks or watching an old replay where you couldn’t even jump properly is intensely satisfying, and I’d definitely recommend getting into the game, but you’ll just have to keep in mind that you’ll only be as good as the practice you put in.
Beware of bots and people
You could download Rocket League and never need another game
Of course, you don’t have to play Rocket League competitively, nor would I ever suggest everyone even play Ranked. You can have a huge amount of fun just messing around in Casual, and that’s to say nothing of the fun found within Custom Games with friends, infinite boost, low gravity, or whatever other modifiers you want to add on.
I do, despite all of this rather gushing praise, have three complaints. My first complaint is about Matchmaking. Casual matchmaking uses MMR, which is fine, but often means you’ll end up playing better opponents than those you’d find in Ranked, which doesn’t feel very Casual. Also, if you want to play with friends, you’ll all be dragged into matches against people that match the highest-level player, which is very annoying if you’re introducing new friends to a game.
My second complaint is that the bots absolutely suck. While they do pose a challenge when you first start off, you’ll very rapidly discover that they offer no more challenge than that of a Silver level player, and that’s really not good enough for people wanting to challenge themselves but not against players.
Why wouldn’t you want to play against players? Well, that’s my third issue. While I’ve talked to and had a lot of polite and very friendly games of Rocket League, there are also a lot of players who seem to think that their ability to hit a digital ball in a digital car makes them some kind of demi-god. What I’m saying is that the community is so toxic that global warming looks at it and goes, “no thank you, not like this”. Thankfully you can mute chat, so do consider doing that.
Despite those last three points, Rocket League is an incredible game unlike anything else around, and I would heartily recommend literally everybody at least gives it a shot. You will get as much out of it as you put into it, and whether you want to play it as a party game with friends or you want to play it competitively so that you too can experience the pain of losing three matches in a row and watching that wonderful Platinum rank suddenly become Silver (not a typo), it’s phenomenal and is very much still worth playing in 2021.