Review: Rocket League (Xbox One)
Posted on January 29, 2018
Not unlike Trials Fusion, Rocket League is a bit of a sleeper hit in the Game Truck. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and despite its huge popularity it has the feel of of an indie hit that has got the right recognition. It is very popular with boys at about 10-11 years of age: at this age they are starting to grow out of Minecraft a bit and are looking for the next cool thing to play with their friends, and Rocket League definitely delivers.
The premise of Rocket League is pretty simple: soccer, but with remote-controlled cars. Like ideal any game for the Truck, you can have four players on the same screen, meaning up to sixteen players at once in the truck. Each player selects a team and there are (of course) a multitude of customisation options: car styles, colours, hubcaps, little hats, and gameplay adjustments like special weapons and so on. Kids in the truck love this stuff way more than I ever would: I would just want to get to the game but they really enjoy selecting their individual styles and then unlocking new options as they play.
In the game itself each player controls a car and attempts to collide with a ball in play to knock it into the goal at the opponent’s end. A boost button gives you a burst of speed, there is a jump button to try and connect with the ball while it is in the air, and it is possible to drive up walls for bit, meaning that the game is a very dynamic 3D experience.
Although it’s not an ‘easy’ game as such, it is certainly very accessible – I’ve seen players of all ages, types and experiences levels get in and play and have a really great time, and they don’t seem to get bored of it quickly. It seems to be one of those games that is easy to learn but hard to master, again much like Trials Fusion. For this reason we see brothers and sisters of all ages playing together, as well as kids playing with Mum or Dad, which is one of our favourite things to see in the Truck.
Rocket League is also very much of the newest generation of video games, which might account for some of its popularity. It’s a big-ticket item in eSports (which we’ve heard about here, and here, and here), meaning that it is played competitively to crowds of spectators and streamed online. It is also quite a hot choice for livestreamers (for an intro, click here) who play games with their own commentary to fans online. So even before someone has seen or played Rocket League live, they might be very familiar with it through their spectating habits. This may explain the somewhat surprising popularity of the game as soon as we mention it at a Game Truck party.
One of the greatest things about Rocket League is that it is rated G, so it is completely appropriate for players of any age. This is great because when we have kids aged 8-9 or up, they invariably start asking about shooters like Call of Duty and such. Although we have a process for parents to provide consent or younger kids to play M and M15+ games, it’s best to try and avoid disappointment about the game choice, and a game like Rocket League allows that. It somehow manages to be mature and engaging in its gameplay without having adult content.
We originally bought two copies of Rocket League as a special request for a 10-year old boy who specifically wanted to play it. Within weeks demand meant that we had acquired another two copies so we could have it playing on all four consoles. Overall it’s a hugely recommended title both for a Game Truck party or just at home, especially because it facilitates the face-to-face ‘couch co-op’ experience that we specialise in. We are so excited that games continue to be produced that allow for healthy, pro-social gaming experience without needing to think too much about age-appropriateness.]
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