The brilliant developers of Rocket League have begun teasing a new way to play. Rocket League has always been about cars playing soccer, but during the holidays, Psyonix introduced an ice hockey mode. Now that “March Madness” is here, they shared a screenshot of a new basketball mode that they are working on.
— Rocket League (@RocketLeague) March 11, 2016
This is definitely exciting news for Rocket League fans that are looking to have a little bit more variety to how they play. It almost feels like a miracle that Rocket League was such a success. Their previous game “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars” (or whatever it was called) seemed like a complete flop when it was released on PS3. Sure, the name didn’t do it any favors, but I didn’t like the game because it felt very unpolished and I didn’t care for all of the funky arena layouts.
When Rocket League was released, they took a completely different approach to their “soccer with cars” formula. They basically simplified everything as much as possible. For starters, they made the name of the game easy to remember. Then, they stuck with a simple arena layout that felt like an official “regulation” size. The controls of the vehicles had a perfect feel, which was arcade-like, but with really good physics. There wasn’t any money or experience to earn, you just picked up the game and play. Everything about it portrayed the message “simple but incredibly fun”.
My main concern now is I feel that the developers are slowly losing focus on what separated their first game from this one. If they keep adding all of this filler to the core game, I am worried how far they are going to take it. For example, I like the fact that every car plays and feels essentially the same. If you lose to another team, you can’t blame the other team having an unfair advantage, which is extremely refreshing when you consider how many games these days have an annoying level-grinding and looting system. What if Psyonix start messing with that formula? Would you still want to play if an extremely experienced player also had a faster car that could jump higher and handle better? What if they start adding weapons? Sure, all of these ideas may sound exciting, but they will also risk alienating the players who loved the game for its simplicity.
Hopefully they won’t take things too far, but if they do start experimenting, it’s very likely they will keep things properly separated and organized in the main menu. I just worry that ranked “competitive” matches are eventually going to start having more of these crazy ideas added to the playlist. I wasn’t a big fan when they added the “Mad Max” styled map to the ranked playlist, for example. That map broke away from the standard regulation arena size and introduced an overly large arena with a curved floor that funneled the ball into each goal more easily. Many people might have loved it, but most of the people I have played with complained about how unpredictably the ball bounced and how frustrating it was to play in a large arena while playing 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2.
On a more positive note, I don’t think anything can really “ruin” Rocket League. The core game will always be incredibly fun and these new modes will be a very welcome diversion from time to time. I just hope they can stick to the simple-but-fun approach this game has and avoid making too many dramatic changes to the ranked playlist. If this trend continues, expect to see even more modes to be added. How about American football, tennis, golf, billiards (car pool?), or volleyball? Whatever happens, I hope Psyonix continues to stay successful, because Rocket League has been the best sports video game, and it isn’t even a real sport.