Rock & Roll
Rocket League is a fun game. It seems to have hit a perfect storm with its release. It’s a sequel to a small downloadable PS3 title. It had a well-received “beta” that got a lot of forum and blog talk. It released for free on the popular PS Plus platform. Details aside, did I mention the most important part yet? It’s downright fun. Within seconds of seeing the game in action you get it. Within minutes of playing it you are scoring goals and making saves and having a blast. Within hours of playing you’re learning from mistakes and correcting bad habits.
What is it about Rocket League that is so fun and keeps players coming back for more?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks between rounds of Rocket League (aka “work”). The mechanics are a huge part of it. That’s a given. Psyonix has nailed the “easy to learn, difficult to master” approach to creating a strategic game. Driving is arcadey and fun. Double jumps, dives, and rocket boosts efficiently define the skill involved. Bundle all this with tight and well-tuned physics and you have a considerably enjoyable game. I never feel as if a missed shot was the game’s fault. Thoughts like “I didn’t have the right angle”, “I should have jumped to keep the ball on the ground”, and “I would have had better spatial awareness if I hadn’t been using the ball cam” run through my head. You’re learning more at a constant rate and getting better and better while always having fun.
Speed plays another huge factor in Rocket League’s success. I don’t just mean how fast you can get your car going so that you can demolish an opponent or clear the ball from your half. It’s a game with quick load times and 5 minute matches. It’s so easy to boot up for 15 minutes while you’re killing time before going out. That is until you decide you could be a little late for 1 more game. That is until you decide you don’t have to go. That is until you decide that sleep isn’t as important as doctors say it is. Kinda like getting 3 servings of milk a day. Isn’t that all made up by dairy farmers anyway? I joke, but the games are quick and action-packed. It scratches an itch that I can’t quite reach with something like FIFA or NHL games.
Last but not least, the number of people playing at any given time and its popularity has helped it go a long way. Thanks to the Playstation Plus program, they released the game for free on Playstation 4 in July. The game has around 100,000 people online in matches at any given time it seems. There are always people to play with and all your friends likely play it too. As a side note, I am glad the option for split screen support on the PC version is available. A rare, but welcome feature. The volume of players means that the talent pool is larger too. I don’t feel out of my element by entering a game as there are likely thousands of people at my skill level playing. Over time this will change. But with such a large install base I don’t think that time will be anytime soon.
The success of Rocket League was a great break for developer Psyonix. In no way am I discrediting their work and craft put into this title. It’s a solid and fun game on a profound level. Studio founder Dave Hadgewood and his team scrambled to reduce server issues at launch. They didn’t expect the number of users they got. I’d love to know what were some of gamings great “could have been” titles. For now we will wait on the next Rocket League-type surprise smash hit. In the mean time I’m going to work on my aerials a bit more and keep finding the perfect antenna topper and hat combo! :P
This week’s Epicplays article was contributed by awesome community member Chris R. If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts on a specific game, an interesting trend you’ve noticed, or just gaming culture in general, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with an idea. Thanks for reading and have a nice day. ❤