The first time I played Rocket League (that is, when it was initially called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars and drifted in obscurity for a few years), it was a strange but rewarding experience that reminded me that games of this nature can become something bigger. Bigger in scale and mechanics, while delivering a fun and addicting multiplayer experience. This, of course, was back when me and a friend simply called it “Car Soccer” and we thought nothing more of it as a quirky yet super addictive arcade hybrid. Afterward, the game we called “Car Soccer” was soon rebranded by developer Psyonix, released onto other platforms, and became a mega hit among casual players and the eSports scene. Now, that surprise hit is finally available on the Nintendo Switch and it might be the best version despite some technical limitations here and there.
To put it simply for those unaware, Rocket League is a fusion of arcade soccer and driving all meshed into a package that is chaos with a twist: Pushing a giant ball into your opponent’s goal while playing in a series of arenas that are just as intense as the gameplay. Well, okay, that’s the super simplified version of things, but you get the point. The concept while silly, is really easy to understand. You are in control of a high-powered vehicle of your choice complete with an expansive customization system at your disposal. Exclusive to the Switch version are Mario, Luigi and Metroid-themed Battle-Cars (the latter being my favorite), which can be unlocked through winning or playing a set amount of matches. After you have created your very own soccer-ready machine (complete with car toppers and a multitude of paint jobs), you are then ready to dive into either local or multiplayer action. This is where things get real hectic as you are thrown into the mix of what makes Rocket League so special: its addictive nature that blends together racing and soccer so well that you can’t put it down.
For those who are beginners to Rocket League, I highly recommend using the tutorial immediately. The basics are shown here on how to correctly boost, powerslide, and other strategies that may help you in winning matches. Sure, while the concept of cars + soccer doesn’t seem like actual rocket science (sorry for the pun), Rocket League’s mechanics take a while to fully master. Yes, by no means are you gonna be having a hard time playing this, but do know when faced with tougher competition that it can be unforgiving if you aren’t well-versed in some skills. So, it’s best one gets a few practice rounds before diving into local or online competition, the latter of which can lead to a rude awakening if you aren’t careful.
When it comes to being competitive in Rocket League, it’s rather eye-opening just how good some players around the world can be at scoring, defending, and even goaltending (which is harder than it looks, so brush up on the tutorial with this). One mistake that you don’t want to make as a rookie is to just simply chase after the ball. As simple as a concept that Rocket League possesses, there’s depth and strategy one must understand. It’s not about if you are on the attack constantly, but rather if you can generate that key clear or well-timed bounce via a boost that could lead to an offensive explosion.
Aside from that, there are plenty of options to play with 1v1 to 4v4 matches. Also, if for some reason you aren’t interested in the up and down difficulty that may come with some online matches, there is an offline season mode to tackle. Don’t have friends to play with locally? No worries, as this mode also includes bots with a difficulty setting for your choosing. Getting tired of Soccar (yes, that’s how it’s spelled within the game)? There’s also a basketball mode if you so inclined to join. It also doesn’t hurt that even with multiple control options that the use of a single Joy-Con works surprisingly well. Well, that is, until it leads to hand cramps, but truth to be told there’s no wrong configuration to use with Rocket League on the Switch. Whether in handheld mode, with two Joy-Cons, or with a Pro controller, you will be able to find one way that suits you best in quick fashion.
On the subject of online connectivity, Rocket League runs ever-so-smoothly on the Switch without any sign of a hiccup from my many playthroughs. But, if there was one flaw in online, the handheld mode may prove to be tricky. Only a few times I saw my connection get laggy with this mode, but it wasn’t enough for me to stray away from competing while on the go. Just make sure to be close by a Wi-Fi router to be safe. Qualms with some small connectivity issues in handheld mode aside, the addition of cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One users is another great incentive by increasing the playing field from the start. Although, as mentioned before, that’s where things get overly difficult with varying people to compete with online. Yes, the online aspects of Rocket League are undeniably fun and addicting. Yet it comes as a harsh truth in this world when you find yourself in the middle of a match at a deficit of double digits. Still, getting pounded by the eSport pros or seasoned vets can serve as a valuable lesson in wanting to perform all of those tricks and well-timed set-ups for a goal. Either way, there’s plenty of things to dabble in to tune up your “Soccar” skills be it in the tutorial or through some local matches with friends.
Visually, Rocket League on the Nintendo Switch may not be a clear-cut replica to what we’ve seen on Steam and other home consoles; however, developer Panic Button (the same folks who put together a solid port of Doom on Switch just recently) certainly hasn’t slouched when it comes to making the game still look just as appealing in 720p resolution. Sure, the visual presentation may seem like a downgrade if you look really hard enough. For example, there are moments, though, where the textures in the background and within the arenas look rather jagged, yet it’s not overly distracting. These small visual shortcomings are only amplified in handheld mode where rough textures start to stand out more. Whatever the case with Rocket League’s visuals, the game still runs smoothly on the Switch and is just as pleasing to admire on the big screen. Goes to show that one should easily commend Panic Button for finding yet another way to surprise us with their porting wizardry they’ve been doing on the Switch as of late.
Rocket League, for all intents and purposes, is a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch library and well-executed port of a phenomenon that has taken the eSports scene by storm. While this port does show a rough around the edges look in its visuals compared to its PC and high-powered console contemporaries, it’s doesn’t become a huge burden. The options in Rocket League are plentiful and the customization is both varied and deep, so there’s no shortage of re-tooling your rocket-powered goal scoring machine’s feel and look. Much like with the recent release of Doom on the Switch, developer Panic Button was able to cut a few corners to make this a worthy port. For any Switch owner out there needing a new multiplayer entry for their collection, it should come as no surprise that Rocket League is just another fun-filled experience that’s worth your time and patience to master.
Review: Rocket League (Nintendo Switch)
Aside from a few online connectivity hiccups and some small graphical shortcomings, Rocket League is still a fun and joyful experience to behold. It’s addictive and chaotic nature alone make it a must-own for Switch owners who want to get their next multiplayer fix.