Have You Played… Rocket League?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I think by this point we’re all aware of the apocalyptic hellscape simulator as Rocket League [official site] — y’know, the one where the fates of nations are decided by which ones can drive RC cars the best? Rocket League is really, really good. So good, in fact, a year later it’s still enticing me to put off work so I can squeeze a few rounds in almost daily.

It’s a rare thing when you can sink a 150 hours into a game and then discover something entirely new that inspires you to double that investment of time, but that’s exactly what happened when I discovered the joy of 1v1 duels. For so long, I thought Rocket League was always meant to be a team game, but there’s nothing more thrilling than taking someone on mano a mano. Without other strikers or goalies to assist, every goal — and every mistake — is solely yours.

One on one duels in Rocket League are beautiful because they force you to reevaluate how you approach everything. You can no longer set a teammate up for an amazing shot, and diving too deep just leaves yourself over-exposed. It’s like discovering a whole new game inside of the one you thought you knew so well, and I not only appreciate how much more skilled it has made me, but how much I realize I have left to learn.


  1. TeePee says:

    This is some sort of sick joke, right?

    I’ve barely played anything else for the past six months. Somebody please help me.

  2. Ushao says:

    It’s the one game I’ve been able to use to drag my friend out of Dota.

    • TeePee says:

      I like your thinking:

      “Never mind that crack malarkey, that’s for pussies. Try this heroin!”

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I knew there was something I’d forgotten in that “what popular game could you never get into” post a while back. Rocket League just didn’t work for me at all when I tried it. It all just felt so…imprecise. Now, with a lot of multiplayer games I’m pretty terrible at the start and only scoring points by luck, but I can normally see how things will come together, and I can see what more experienced players are doing. But this wasn’t the case here, RL seemed to involve a lot of flailing about like a game of hungry hungry hippos. I don’t get it at all.

    • LegitChamp says:

      Totally get that not everyone would find it to their liking. But the everyone flailing about is more a matter of not being good at the game rather than what is actually done by good players. Even someone like me who is closer to a flailing hippo than a flying ninja can confidently anticipate where the ball will go (mostly) before its hit and how to set up teammates etc etc. Granted, what I try to do and what actually happens do not always coincide. But that is due to me being bad at the game, not due to the game’s mechanics.

      Once you get past the stage where you are just hitting the ball to hit it and start hitting the ball with a purpose you begin to see how it works together.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’ve heard of hungry hungry hippos, but your comment prompted me to look it up more on Wikipedia: “Film adaptation: Production is to start in early 2016”. What a time to be alive.

    • clonex10100 says:

      If you play it like “Gotta touch the ball league” then yes. However, if you hang back and wait for a good shot with teammates who don’t flail wildly to touch the ball it can be a lot more precise and strategic.

    • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

      Any perception that the game is imprecise is entirely a matter of skill and experience. The game is incredibly, incredibly precise, but it takes a few hours of playing for things to come together a little more.

  4. Iain_1986 says:

    I used to play this a lot, racked up maybe 150hrs+ of it.

    But I found the community start to become noticeably more and more toxic and unpleasant. Got to the stage I started to not enjoy my time playing more and more because of the people I encountered. The “shit chat”, the sulking, the strops, going afk, switching teams and just general unpleasantness. Not played in months now.

    I’ve just started playing RB6 at the same rate I played RL and surprisingly, for an FPS I expected the community to be just as bad…but I’m pleasantly surprised so far. If anything, the community just seems…..quieter.

    • TeePee says:

      The community’s not as wonderful as it first was – it’s suffered a bit from ‘DayZ’ syndrome, where what started out as a decent mid-sized community has suddenly blown up as a huge thing, and it’s attracted ‘mainstream’ attention, which inevitably means you’re going to get a big influx of people who generally act like assholes online.

      However, there’s still more good than bad – most public games in my experience end with ‘gg’ all round, and anyone who is bitching or trash-talking excessively tends to get called out and/or reported by everyone in the game, not just the team they’re speaking out against.
      Now it’s establishing itself as an e-sport as well, it’s going to be even more of an issue, but so far my experiences have generally been more positive than negative.

    • caff says:

      There was a weird patch a few months ago where the player base did start acting up – I wondered whether it was going through growing pains, i.e. the rude idiots who play for a month or so, act all toxic, then move onto the next game. It seems to have improved quite a lot in the last 3-4 months and I’ve had many respectful “gg” comments at the end of each match. And the PC player base has grown too.

    • freedomispopular says:

      Don’t forget that you can mute players or even disable keyboard chat altogether.

  5. Xocrates says:

    Made a few matches, but I bounced off it HARD.

    Thing is that at an entry level the game is sort of a chaotic mess – which can be fun, but not my thing. However what annoyed me was that I could see what the game could be like once you start to master it, so I was left in this awkward situation where I knew what I wanted to do, but could not control the cars with the precision required to pull it of.

    So it’s a game I would need to get good at before I could enjoy it, and frankly I have other games I could be playing in the meantime, so I never bothered.

    • LegitChamp says:

      Luckily, my answer to this was 2s with a friend of mine. We ended up having a ton of fun while we learned and as we’ve gotten better (although still bad) we at least manage to work as a team now which makes it so much more rewarding. If you can, playing this with a partner or two can really improve the experience compared with just playing with randoms. Or 1v1s as the article talks about.

      • Xocrates says:

        I’ve only played this with friends (don’t even own it personally). I think that’s shows how hard I’ve bounced off it.

  6. geldonyetich says:

    I have not played Rocket League because I’m weird and I don’t find the idea of driving around an arena trying to alter the course of a randomly bouncing ball whilst being jostled by other rude ball dislodging drivers to be my cup and tea.

  7. Slazia says:

    Darn those rude ball dislodgers.

  8. Asurmen says:

    I play it way too much.

    Problem I’m finding, is my skills seem to have gotten as good as they’re going to get (basically, I can hit the ball with an aerial, but not necessarily in a useful manner, or reach high heights as quickly as some people manage).

    Problem being, I obviously keep ranking up and it means meeting more and more gems when it comes to skill, and I generally feel useless to me team. Seeing people jump off a wall, and keeping it under control with two or three perfect touches post jump, and not having the ability to achieve the same makes me sad.

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      This is the exact same thing that happened to me. My rank does not reflect my skill at all. This was a game I would play in-between games when I didn’t have any I particularly wanted to get into. The fact that each game mode doesn’t have a unique ranking doesn’t help either.

      I tried playing this last week sometime and yeah, I can officially say I am done with the game. I just don’t find it much fun anymore. Got 90 hours out of it though, so no regrets.

      • The Yahwg says:

        Hey, have you guys tried Rocket League Trainer ? I felt i was against a wall of progression, like you, but since I’ve installed and used it regularly I think i might progress toward reliable freestyles and wall hits. It’s opening up so much possibilities :drool:

        God this sounds like spam.

  9. Gothnak says:

    I’m generally ‘ok’ at Rocket League, vary randomly from match to match from 1st to 3rd on a team, most of the time make stupid mistakes, but then am pretty good at assisting the people that can play the game.

    My problem is the lack of sense of progression really, i got up to ‘Pro’ which basically means you have played X games, and it’s exactly the same as when i started. I have no idea what ranking pool i’m in up there, as i can get matched with asshats or with people who start flying around with their boost on hitting balls in the air the air while i watch and go ‘that’s nice’

    I think the most annoying thing is being in a match where one team thrashes the other, 2 of the losing team invariably quit and then the uber team gets put together on the next match rather than splitting them up. And i have sometimes been on the winning team and it usually happens, woe betide the new players joining in.

    I have managed to be ‘that guy who has played too much’ who has scored all 5 goals for my team in a 5-0 whitewash, but those games are few and far between for me and my 9 hours played..

  10. criskywalker says:

    OMG! OMG! OMG!

    It’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. The most fun I’ve had with a sports game Since Speedball 2 and I hate sports.

  11. Mr Bismarck says:

    “Have You Played… Rocket League?”

    I have, but only for 381 hours.

  12. airtekh says:

    500 hours and counting …

    I play it almost every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. I think what I like most about Rocket League is the sheer perfection of its learning curve. I’ve gone from being barely able to hit the ball to smashing in aerial goals with regularity.

    Even with the ridiculous amount of playtime I’ve clocked up, I still feel I have stuff to learn, more techniques to master. My air control isn’t as good as it could be, and I still don’t hit wall shots as well as I could. It’s that pursuit of perfection that keeps me coming back.

  13. Imbecile says:

    Have i stopped? I still cant fly, but my double jumping skills compensate a little. Single player, rumble, and team play are like seperate excellent games.

    • Hobbes says:

      I dearly want them to add in Neo Tokyo to the default season AND for them to add a rumble season option as well.

      • Imbecile says:

        Not sure where I stand on Neo-tokyo, It complicates some of the “purity” of a standard field layout, but I like it as part of the more fun non competitive games. Maybe the answer is competitive rumble, using some of the crazier pitch layouts as well as the standard ones.

  14. OscarWilde1854 says:

    650 hrs, top 6% on leaderboards, champion rank… yeah, you could say I’ve played it a bit.

    You could also say I can’t stop…

  15. Doomlord says:

    Was kinda fun but the novelty of it wears off after a while and you’re not left with much to really hold you in the long-term. And that’s doubly true once you hit your skill cap. It’s a neat little game but not something I’d ever play for more than a few weeks/months, at most.

  16. OmNomNom says:

    Its good fun but its so simple and diluted I’ve no idea how you’d play it for more than a few minutes at a time. Might as well be playing Minesweeper or Snap.

    • Asurmen says:

      Like saying football is simple.

    • Imbecile says:

      All the best games are both simple and deep. Rocket League is one of those. It doesnt require many buttons, or have 30 players on each side, and it is simple, but also has many different levels of skill, from ballchasers, to players capable of quite ridiculous feats of dexterity. Thats why you play it for more than 30 seconds.

  17. AskForBarry says:

    Have you played Rocked League?

    Do you like bacon?

  18. CartonofMilk says:

    i like the game but had to stop playing when i realised i had peaked skill wise and was never ever gonna be able to air dribble like, at all. Every time i faced opponents that were god like by my standards (i.e could air dribble) it left me feeling disgusted and shamed. I had to stop playing to preserve whatever was left of my self-esteem.

    I have to say if there’s one thing i realised in the past 5 years (in which i have attempted competitive gaming) it’s that despite the 32 years of gaming experience i have, i’m totally rubbish at gaming. I think it’s because i don’t have a competitive mind. So that extra effort your brain has to put into a game to get actually good, I can’t give it. It’s like ok i get what i technically have to do to air dribble but asking me to do this on the fly in real time is just, forget it.

    • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

      I’m like you, but you just got to be a little more zen about it. Now I just play ranked, and enjoy about a 50% win-rate. I have fun playing, and have learned not to be unhappy losing. I’ll probably not get much better technically, but I still find it a joy to play.