My Favourite Games Of 2015: Rocket League

Rocket League is all about timing.

Beginners rush in like nine-year-olds on the soccer field, chasing the ball without thought for position. Experts wait, they evaluate, they choose the precise moment to strike and bam! Back of the net.

Funny that — Rocket League's success too, was all about timing. The precision of it. Releasing at a time where we had little to talk about, little to get excited about. Releasing for free on PlayStation Plus. It felt like providence. Rocket League was one of the most talked about and played games of 2015, but you get the sense that — released at the wrong time, on the wrong platform — Rocket League could have been a spectacular failure instead of what it was: a spectacular success.

But none of that has to do with the quality of the game itself.

Rocket League is, basically, a great video game. It's a cool high concept — soccer with cars — executed in such a way that it's almost unbelievable just how good it is. In a strange sense, it's probably the best soccer game ever made. It's NBA Jam for a new generation, except there's a skill cap there and it's tremendously high.

The polish, the visual style. The details of it. The simplicity. The control system — easy to play, difficult to master.

My process with Rocket League was hilarious. When I started I played with wild abandon, with a kind of youthful verve. I wanted to win, but losing was hardly an issue. Games were short and winning wasn't a life or death scenario. Rocket League was a rare commodity: an online multiplayer game where it was fun to lose.

That's how it was in the beginning.

Cut to a week later. Me, with my feet under me and an understanding of how Rocket League worked, shouting at random people who couldn't actually hear me. Getting legitimately angry at people who don't defend, people who rushed the ball at kick-off. Getting angry at people who were terrible at Rocket League, angry at people who were too good at Rocket League. Just angry all the time.

But still somehow enjoying myself. I remember thinking to myself. Is this what it feels like... to play a MOBA?

People did move away from Rocket League quickly, which is strange. I remember thinking, 'this is the future of eSports' but people seemed to leave as quickly as they arrived. Distracted by Metal Gear Solid V and, eventually, Fallout 4. It's not that the game lacked depth or nuance, it's wasn't even necessarily a stop-gap until the big guns came out to play. It's difficult to explain really, people loved Rocket League, they talked about it and then they just moved on to the next thing.

But a strong core group continue to play and I suspect that won't change. Rocket League is now very much a thing. It might not be the thing, but it's a thing. I still play once in a while, with friends. I, for one, am very glad it exists.


Comments

    I still play Rocket League pretty much every day and I never have trouble finding a game on the Oceania servers.
    My only problem is I'm not getting any better at it. Gotta get those rocket-jumps under control!

      haha heaps man, I started doing the aerial tutorials and playing vs bots for some offline training.

    Just a simple great game. No over top mechanics, no convoluted system, just a game built from the ground up with the simple purpose of being fun. Can't give this game enough to credit.

    Yeah I still play several nights a week with my group of mates.

    Such a simple game yet it's heaps of fun.

    Huh, I'm surprised Mark didn't say Halo 5 while counting all the coins from his sack with a dollar sign on it that was given to him by a man in a suit.

    Haha, I'm just joshing ya. I am surprised by Rocket League. I thought the hype for the game had died down somewhat.

    Fav game of 2015, I hope it keeps catching on !

    I still play this at least once a week with friends, I am still average in regards to my game skills, but I still find it a lot of fun :)

    I just wish more people played the mutator servers, finding it harder and harder to get on one :(

    Besides obviously just playing the game, which I agree is one of the best, if not the best pick up and play of the year, one of my favourite things that very occasionally happens is joining a game, immediately seeing an opportunity to score at the other end, boosting straight at it and scoring within 10 odd seconds of joining.

    It has happened to me at least 3 times, and each one has made me smile more than the last.

    Can we do some sort of unofficial Kotaku friendlies during the break?

    Create your own wacky team name and logo...

    Still LOVE playing it all the time. Every match is just so god damn fun. When you get paired with a good partner and you work together to pull of some amazing teamwork... Nothing beats it.

    People did move away from Rocket League quickly

    Something I mentioned in the other Rocket League article: there's still a minimum of 20,000 players online on weeknights, and it spikes massively over weekends and after content updates (80,000+).

    To put these numbers in perspective, even on a weeknight Rocket League is still doubling the (alleged) player numbers of Battlefront on PC.

    MGSV took me away from Rocket League. As much as I loved RL, every time I powered up the PS4, I was drawn to clicking on Snakes head and playing MGSV. Now that I've come towards the end of MGSV, I've started playing RL again and am loving it once more. I've purchased some of the DLC and am loving the new maps and mutators. Just had a go of the ice hockey map earlier and had a blast. If you haven't played in a while, I recommend getting back into it.

      Yeah this. Rocket League is the kind of game people return to when they finish an "experience" game.

    I play with 3 others every Friday night for around an hour or so. Have done since the game was released.

    Great fun, especially when everyone is chatting during a match and, after a few drinks :)

    People did move away from Rocket League quickly, which is strange. I remember thinking, ‘this is the future of eSports’ but people seemed to leave as quickly as they arrived.

    That would seem to be the future of esports if the games all clamouring to squeeze their way into that room get their way. A crowd of players devouring each new title like novelty-locusts before moving on as quickly as they arrived.

    Although... Really? People 'seemed to leave quickly'? To me it seemed like people were never going to stop talking about it.
    Rocket League joined the list of games which had seemingly endless Kotaku articles about it for months (think Pokemon, Splatoon, Witcher, Fallout, Mario Kart, etc).
    In August there were over 25 Rocket League-tagged articles over 30 days. July and September got down to one every 2nd day. Compared to many titles, Rocket League got a really good look-in on the collective gaming consciousness.

      I think/hope it will have a constant following. The numbers may dwindle, but if people are still playing tribes then I have high hopes for Rocket League.

    I just loved that it had the full triple for me. It had offline with bots that was actually fun, online in short matches so I never got stuck in a half-hour rut with the same annoying pricks and 4 player local co-op. Something that has been massively lacking in the current generation is just good local 4 player games. In fact out of my 20 or so game collection on PS4 and half that for my X1, only The Handsome Jack Collection, Rayman and Rocket League have 4 player local co-op. I was incredibly disappointed with Call of Duty for removing that feature, pretty much the only reason I ever play the older ones, post MW1.

    Love rocket league and even those big releases weren't enough for me to stop playing. Only downside is I was just starting to get good and then I played the mutators too much and now can't read the ball to save myself. Oh and those stupid comments people make. I bet you feel really cool typing 'what a save' 10 times in a row... I love rocket league

    I play it a fair bit and there's usually at least 20 000 people on.

    It's by far my favourite game of the year for one reason: The first time I played an online match I had a smile on my face and was laughing the whole time. It was fun and I was shit but it didn't matter because good god was it fun. No other game in recent memory has done that for me. Not only that but it's exactly what (I at least think) a multiplayer game should be. Everybody is completely equal and your success is 100% based on your skill. If you fuck up it's because you actually fucked up, not because you don't have the right gun or character or whatever.

    game gets dull as fuck after a few rounds.
    dunno how anyone can keep playing over and over and over and over

      I disagree, the've added a lot of free content already, and they've no doubt got plenty more free maps and dlc coming. Playing ranked is great challenge. Splitscreen is also real good if you've got mates who like it. Dunno why you find it so boring.

      I dunno man. It's just been consistently fun.

      I just passed 100 hours and I'm still learning new plays, seeing ridiculous flukes and finishing each match eager for the next

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