Now, some people might try and tell you that horse racing is the sport of kings. Whatever the historical connotations of the phrase might be, there’s only one thing we know for sure here: none of these people have played Rocket League.
This high-octane vehicular soccer game was first released for PC and PlayStation 4, back in July 2015. Since then, Psyonix’s unhinged arcade title has been ported to the other current-gen systems. Whatever your system of choice might be, you’ve surely been exposed to the game at some point.
Rocket League is a difficult one to judge, accessibility-wise. The action just looks beyond chaotic at times (and often is), but there’s some method to the madness. A whole lot of it, in fact. Whether you’ve just started playing and gotten yourself mystified or you’re an experienced player looking to rank up, here are some intermediate-level tips that should help steer you right.
It’s A Team Sport
That’s right, friends. We’re kicking off with a tip that may sound super-basic, but is vital to consider at all levels of play: cooperation is key. In soccer, A-listers like Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi may be the biggest of deals, but they have a specific role on the pitch, and so do their teammates. Nobody can do everything. Rocket League may be an utterly madcap take on the sport, but that’s true here too.
As is often the case with online gaming, you’ll have a much better experience if you’re partied up with friends. Communication is very important, as a team member out of position will often result in your conceding a goal. Make sure everybody knows where everybody is and what they’re doing, as far as you can.
Don’t Be Too Goal-Hungry
Speaking of Messi, Ronaldo and other legendary soccer stars, they sometimes have a tendency to push a little too far to be the star of the show. Fans of the sport know the kinds of impossible shots and tricks these players can perform, and they want to see them in action. This sometimes comes at the detriment of their team.
Again, in Rocket League as in soccer, it’s all about a coordinated effort. A lone player making an obvious assault on the opponents’ goal will tend to be thwarted, so don’t try and lone wolf your way to victory like an FPS player. A clever pass to a teammate is more likely to get the job done.
Keep Your Eye On Your Own Goal
In online gaming, so many players want to be the star. The bigshot. The one who takes charge and makes the plays that get the win. In a game like Rocket League, then, these are the players that like to steam forward with the ball and take that match-winning shot. This is all completely natural, of course. If you don’t score, you can’t win. However, this is where the cooperation comes in. You have to take care to balance your offense and defense, as (in another parallel to real-life soccer) counter attacks can be deadly.
Rocket League is all about dynamic play. Falling back to defend your team’s goal one minute and making a break for theirs the next. You’re got to be able to read the situation and react accordingly, which can be difficult with the incredibly fast pace of play.
Make Sure Your Camera Settings Work For You, Not Against You
As we’ve established, Rocket League often looks like a big, chaotic free-for-all to the untrained eye. There’s all kinds of hidden depth to the experience, yes, but the fact remains that newcomers are going to struggle to keep up with the pace of the match. You’ll want to make your transition to Rocket League mastery as smooth as possible, and this means tailoring the experience to your own preferences right from the off.
One of the first items on your agenda should be customizing the camera options. We’ve already seen just how crucial it is that players can read the situation in the match and adapt on the fly, and a lot of that is reliant on your use of the camera. Keep experimenting to find the settings that work for you.
The Backboard Is Your Best Friend
The tactics of soccer, when you get right down to it, are quite one-dimensional. Granted, sometimes teams want to defend a lead by retreating to their own half and slowing the pace of the game all the way down, but mostly, it’s about one thing: making key passes that put a teammate in a scoring position.
This is also mirrored in Psyonix’s title, but Rocket League players have a few more tools at their disposal. Anti-gravity shenanigans define high-level play, but canny use of the backboard is something that everyone should try to implement a little more. Predictable shots will often be stopped in their tracks by experienced players, so backboard dunks with a teammate in tow are the way you’ll often want to go instead.
Positioning Is Key
This is another vital concept to learn. We’ve already spoken about that urge to make the Play of the Game, and how that mindset can lead you to take risks in your zeal to score impressive goals. As we also know, this is a team sport, and you’ve got to keep that at the forefront of your mind at all times.
Whether you’re playing in teams of 2, 3 or 4, all these concepts come together in a tactic called rotating. It’s all about moving as a single unit, essentially; defending your goal and ensuring your opponents don’t feel too safe in theirs all at once.
Small, But Perfectly Formed
This next tip comes courtesy of a Rocket League enthusiast over on Reddit, and is something that a lot of inexperienced players (and a fair few who should definitely know better than to get greedy) should bear in mind: those smaller boosts near your goal may not look very enticing compared to others, but they’re a real lifesaver.
A little boost in your tank is often all you’ll need to reach a shot, rather than overextending in the hunt for more. Boost is a very, very valuable resource, and again, being too impetuous in your pursuit of it (and being lured away) can be a fatal mistake.
Use Your Boost Sparingly
In a game as high octane and utterly absurd as Rocket League can be, you’d probably think that constantly boosting around the arena would be one of the keys to victory. Gotta go fast, as Sonic the Hedgehog would say. Or you’re too slow!, as he used to say before Sakurai took his most infuriating taunt away from him.
Boost management is vital, though, so players need to learn to conserve it for vital moments. Don’t just rely on the fact that it naturally regenerates, because you can easily either concede a goal or fail to score one if you find yourself lacking at an inopportune moment.
Demo…Nstrate Your Dominance At The Right Moment
So, yes. As you start to make sense of Rocket League and climb up the ranks, you’ll surely start to come across a particular super-controversial mechanic/strategy dubbed demolition.
That’s right, you can destroy your opponents’ vehicles. Of course, there are different schools of thought on this one. Some will tell you that it’s unsporting, others that it’s in the game for a reason and intended to be used… there’s no right answer here. One thing that’s certain is that it can incredibly awkward to pull off, but rewarding (and low-key hilarious) if you get it right. Just don’t use it purely for trolling’s sake, because nobody likes that person.
Don’t Try And Be Too Fancy Too Soon
As with any online game, there are Rocket League players who seem to exist only to make the rest of us feel awful about our skills. There they are, pulling off the kinds of sensational anti-gravity shenanigans and impossible flips and shots most of us could only dream of performing.
In reality, though, there’s quite a lot of showboating involved here. These sorts of moves are tough to perform consistently in the heat of a chaotic match and are often quite unnecessary if you’ve got the fundamentals of the game down. When you’ve seen these sorts of players in action, it’s easy to get hung up on these things, but don’t worry too much about it. Learn to read the flow of the game and practice the fundamentals, before thinking about implementing flashy trick moves.
Rocket League is a multiplayer hit with gamers, but it can seem daunting. Check out these tips and tricks in order to up your game online and dominate. I hope you have found something in this article that you can take and apply to your game immediately.