Developed by: Psyonix, Inc.
Published by: Panic Button
Release date: November 14, 2017
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Number of players: Single-player, 1-4 multiplayer, 1-8 online multiplayer
ESRB Rating: Everyone for Mild lyrics
Just over two years ago a new kind of sport game was created. To be honest, when I first heard of the concept of Rocket League I was not sold. Wait…cars plus soccer? And you know what, I was wrong, so wrong! I must give credit to my brother, he is responsible for introducing me to the game about a year ago. I played several hours and fell in love with the idea of Rocket League. Psyonix made the game back in 2015 on steam, then ported it over to PS4 and Xbox One about a year ago, and just last week released it on the Nintendo Switch. This game is an absolute steal at under twenty dollars. Over the last two years they have added additional game modes such as hockey (snow day), basketball (hoops), Rumble (soccer with powerups) and Dropshot, which is like a tribute to a brick breaker game. These have all been added as free updates which is amazing. The only DLC that you can buy is for cool looking cars which is totally okay in my book. How is the Nintendo Switch port fair?
It’s awesome and a real match for the Nintendo Switch. The port itself is good quality. There are minor graphical limitations, but the gameplay, modes and fluid gameplay all made it over. Those of you who do not know, Rocket League is a blend of driving and Soccer in its most basic mode. You basically take control of a car and play soccer. You can do a 1v1 up to 4v4 match. The player will drive the car and hit the ball into your opponent’s goal. The car you drive has some tricks up its sleeve though. You can accelerate, reverse/brake, boost, jump, and drift. You can even combine your jump with your boost to shoot your car into the air. You can also jump and press forward to flip forward and hit the ball. There are many advanced moves to learn that add a layer of depth to playing. These you use to help steal and control the ball. It is so much fun, and each match is quick, lasting only five minutes.
You can choose between a few different game modes. There is exhibition, just a one-off game against the computer or AI, Season where you play through weeks of games, or online against other players. Those that want more of challenge can enter the ranked online mode. When playing online it has cross play which means you can play against PC players as well as PS4 and Xbox One players. There is even a tutorial mode that teaches you the basics and advanced moves, and has a free play mode to practice in. Soccer mode comes with over twenty-one different maps and even more with variations on the maps such as, a map is at night, or stormy or has snow. The core game play is the same in the other modes, you just score differently so it feels different. In the snow day mode, you have the two goals, but you are hitting a hockey puck instead of a soccer ball, which forces you to play differently. Hoops has two goals and a basketball, but the hoops have a ramp leading up to the hoop, so you cannot just shoot head on at the goal, you must bounce it off the back wall into the hoop. Rumble mode lets you play soccer but with powerups that let you attack the other team’s cars. You can stall them, even blow up the other team’s cars. Finally, in Dropshot mode, the field is cut in half and when the ball drops onto either side it lights up where the ball hits, and if it hits the same lit up spot, it disappears and creates a hole. The next time you hit the ball into that hole, you score. These modes add lots of playing styles and variations in gameplay.
A leveling up system exists as well. As you play you level up and unlock new cars, backgrounds, hats, banners, decals, wheels, boosts, antennas, trails, engine sounds, and you can change the explosion that happens when you make a goal. You can totally customize your look and even save different cars as presets for easy choosing later.
Rocket League is not the most graphically demanding game to port on the Switch and it transfers over well. Obviously, anything in handheld mode is at 720p as opposed to docked at 1080p, which means it doesn’t look as good as other systems ports. They also used a dynamic resolution which was used in Doom and Skyrim. This means that it has a decent resolution when rendering anything close to you, but things further away are rendered at a slightly lower resolution. It basically scales and is a neat trick. You do not notice it most of the time. In docked mode sometimes, things can look a little blurry, but everything for the most part looks good like the pc version. And most importantly it runs great. It is smooth like butter, is fast paced and I never saw a framerate dip. The sound in the game is what you expect though some of the songs in the menus are above par.
One negative aspect was that I couldn’t do local multiplayer split screen as say in Mario Kart or Kingdom New Lands. Having split screen multiplayer in this would be fantastic as the matches are quick and intense. It really seems like a missed opportunity. Why offer one Joy Con controller support? I cannot see the point, it’s a small controller and uncomfortable to use in long periods of time. It’s perfect for split screen as you and your opponent each have a Joy Con. Why would anyone play with one Joy con when you can just use both as that is more comfortable? Hopefully they can add an update so that you can play split screen.
Overall this is a faithful port of Rocket League and perfect fit for Nintendo’s hybrid console. It is amazing to play this game anywhere and the fun never stops with online cross play. There are always matches to find. This game is perfect for quick bursts of play but also easy to sink hours into in a single game session. Rocket league shoots high and scores in my book.