Anyone who subscribes to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service—required to play PS4 games in online multiplayer—this month is able to download a little game called Rocket League for free. That’s opened the doors for a lot of gamers to try Rocket League out without having to pay for it, but the game’s ubiquity is far from the only thing it has going for it.
For one thing: it’s soccer with rocket-powered cars. If that doesn’t make you want to play it, you might be on the wrong planet. But even then, these GIFs I just spent way too much time making definitely will.
Rocket League’s premise sounds so simple—puerile, even—but in reality there’s a lot going on under its hood, if you’ll pardon the expression. I want to eventually communicate just how deep and complex the game is, but I’ll start with the basics: Rocket League is a video game available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in which teams of one to four players drive cars on a soccer pitch and compete to knock a large ball into the opposing team’s goal while defending their own goal.
It start with a “kick-off” of sorts:
…and then the game has begun. Each match lasts four minutes, or longer in the event of a tie, when the game goes into overtime. And, as you can see, San Diego developer Psyonix was kind enough to include old school split-screen play for couch multiplayer with your friends. It supports up to four players on one screen, just like games did in the good old days.
This is what happens when you score:
It’s awesome. But besides that, Rocket League is actually a lot like actual soccer. Ball control is important:
…and the game gives you the abilities and maneuvers you need to pass, shoot and score, provided you’ve put the work into learning the ropes. You can flip through the air to add some “oomph” to your hits:
…and score long-distance goals from halfway across the map, like this:
Sometimes a Rocket League match turns into a total clusterfuck, with eight players all vying for control of the ball, and it’s all you can do to throw yourself toward the goal and hope you get lucky:
…or keep your car from exploding when other players ram into you going full speed:
Other times, you’ll be amazed at your control:
…after some practice, at least.
You might have noticed my car getting cooler and cooler. That’s because you can do this:
Your rocket car’s chassis, paint, decals, rims, antenna topper, exhaust fumes (from red smoke to rainbows!) and more are all customizable, and you’ll be awarded new items randomly as you play, so you don’t have to worry about jumping through hoops to pimp your ride.
Did I mention you can literally fly?
Any game of Rocket League can turn into an intense competition, and you’ll pull off lots of epic saves, like this:
(That makes for lots of near saves as well, and you’ll kick yourself every time you come this close to defending your goal:)
Oh, yeah, there are instant replays, too:
Once in a while you’ll be amazed when you pull off what you consider to be a truly epic play:
…or when you get really, really lucky, and do something like crash into an opponent’s car, knocking them into the ball and the ball into the goal:
But, inevitably, you will be humbled. You’ll be humbled by the simplicity and depth of Rocket League, by the feeling that all games should be so pure and fun, and the ease with which you’ll pass hours with your friends mastering complicated plays and facing off against talented opponents online.
And you’ll be humbled when you hop onto the Rocket League subreddit out of curiosity and stumble on a video like this one, wherein two players show you what actual Rocket League skills look like:
You’ll want to quit playing Rocket League, or you’ll want to never bother to start, if you haven’t already. My advice? Keep on rocketing so one day you can be that good.
And even if you never get to that point, at least you played soccer with rocket cars. Seriously, how can you not want to do that?