eSports Focus: Rocket League

In eSports, there are science-fiction shooters, fantasy-themed MOBAS and sports games. Then there is Rocket League. For mobile gamers out there you will probably be familiar with a collection of games that take the premise of air hockey. There is a goal and you have some form of paddle and a ball or puck to try and beat the opponent.

Borrowed formula?

In a lot of ways that is effectively what Rocket League is. In one versus one, it is just extreme air hockey. Only instead of having a paddle you have a car. And instead of having a puck you have a ball. But it takes that simplistic formula and ramps it up. Literally by using ramps.

Airbound

You see the arenas that you play in when enjoying a game of Rocket League all have sloped sides. What this means is when you accelerate speedily towards them you fly up into the air allowing your vehicle to pull off all sorts of cool and useful manoeuvres. Players starting out on the game tend to stick mostly to the their “ground game” but advanced Rocket League Pros will have perfected the art of sawing gracefully through the air.

Tactical play

It isn’t just a free-for-all either. Although it may look like it against weaker opponents. One of the most important facets of a match on Rocket League is knowing when to push forward and knowing when to hold back. This is especially true during 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3 matchups where watching what your teammates are doing becomes almost as important as watching the ball.

Simple yet with depth

I think that the key ingredient that makes Rocket League so compelling is that anybody can dive right in and have a laugh. It’s just a lot of fun to control and if you stick to the central areas of the arena then the gameplay is no more tricky than something along the lines of Mariokart. However when you invest the time to master your “air game” it becomes part football game, part racer, part Tony Hawks! Okay that might be gilding the lily, but it certainly adds a new dimension. Literally.

Challenge

The game offers replayability, despite not coming with any sort of storyline the competitive element is what drives the game (pun intended). As you win matches you progress through leagues and rank up and there is a certain amount of pride among Rocket League vets as to what their level is. I have seen this first hand, although I seem to lack the capability to progress much beyond Bronze. The level at the top of Bronze tiers seems pretty competitive. It must be insane watching people at Grand Champion level.

As an eSport

Rocket League has had many tournaments throughout the world. With high paying contests held in Europe and the US. These contests have been running for more than four years and regularly get up to or even exceed the hundred thousand dollar mark. What this means is if you are really good at Rocket League you can make a living from it. I think I have a way to go though, not many “ground warriors” pulling in  50k a year from gaming!

The future of Rocket League

As a game you can often pick up for free or cheap there are some worries that eventually its business model will crumble. I wouldn’t be too concerned though. The game seems increasingly popular and its clever business model of selling cosmetic items seems to resonate and keep the player base happy which means we will probably be enjoying Rocket League for some time to come.

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