Rocket League (Switch) Review
Rocket League might be a juggernaut now, but two years ago barely anyone had heard about it or its poorly-named predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. But when Sony gave away the game to PlayStation Plus subscribers, it gave Rocket League an instant audience where everyone fell in love. Now it’s time for the Switch to feel the love. Rocket League on the Switch is every bit as great as the other versions of the game. Being on the Switch means you can feel the love anywhere.
Let’s get this right out of the way, Rocket League on the Nintendo Switch doesn’t look as good as on the PC or PlayStation 4 versions – that much is clear. In portable mode, the game’s graphics drop below sub-native resolution and things can look a little rough. Take a look at the screenshots anywhere, you’ll see. The thing is though, it doesn’t matter. Importantly, Rocket League runs on the Switch at that perfect 60FPS necessary for the high-octane action. Additionally, the game is at feature parity with the other consoles and you can even play with them. There’s an instant community here and there’s always going to be someone to play, even if they’re not on a Switch.
For those unaware, Rocket League mixes soccer and cars into a crazy game of jet-fuelled fun. The goal is simple, get the giant floating ball into the other team’s goals and win. Simple enough, right? Except the game isn’t just driving around and hitting the ball, it’s doing rolls and flips, boosting to take off and fly, deflecting and defending against the other team and generally just pulling off zany moves. Games can be played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three and more. If the vanilla game isn’t your thing, there’s also a number of novelty modes to check out as well. Be warned: there’s a lot of skill needed here to be any good at Rocket League, meaning you’re going to need to put in the hours to get great at the game. Switch players who have never played before are also at a disadvantage simply because players on the other systems have had two years more experience. If you really want, you can turn off cross-play and just play with other Switch owners, but it’s almost like slapping god in the face to turn off such an amazing achievement.
The other great achievement is that despite Nintendo’s online ‘service’ not being ready until March next year, the game comes full equipped regardless. Rocket League doesn’t just feature all the modes from other games but most of the online services. That means you can even play against your friends, what a revelation – EA, we’re glaring at you. You can find your friends online, create parties so you don’t get separated from your friends – you know just like the big-boy consoles. There’s no voice chat, but that’s more the Switch’s downfall than anything the developers could do. Luckily there’s an in-game quick-chat or you can smash out some quick
trash talk praise with a full keyboard as well. If you’re just wanting to play with random people there are a few options; there’s casual play, where all the different modes like Snow Day, Hoops, and Rocket Labs live, or if you’re serious then there’s competitive play with seasons, rankings, and ladders. You’ll need to play 12 matches there to find out where you stand – be warned they’re some serious folks in there.
Being on the Switch also means there’s more to the game than just online, which is great because if you do take your Switch outside the house there’s not always going to be an internet connection to jump onto. There’s local multiplayer for up to eight people and getting into a game is simple and quick. If you’re stuck with just the one Switch you can play multiplayer locally in split-screen with the Joy-Cons on their side or the Pro Controller if that’s too cramped. The Joy-Cons are limited in this way, but it’s a sacrifice that’s worth it for a couple of minutes of Rocket League with a friend or sibling. The game’s UI does suffer in these split-screen modes with already hard to read and blurry text reduced even further.
If you’re wondering if there’s any single player component to Rocket League, sad to say there’s not really. There’s training and it’s almost mandatory if you’ve never played, you’ll never pick up on some of the games nuances without it. The single-player offline league mode is no substitute for playing against other people, as the AI just doesn’t quite cut it. Unless you’re going to play online or with friends, you’re going to want to skip this one. The game also features the ability save and view replays after a match, which makes up for the fact that you can’t yet share your capture to Twitter instantly.
Rocket League has an amazing aesthetic, and it’s not just from the many stadia or the different unique cars that make up the world. It’s the music that plays on the title screen or the way the cars look. There’s a bunch of standard cars but as you progress up the ranks and rack up the XP you’ll unlock different toppers (like hats) and antennae for your car. They’re all cosmetic, but you can make your car your own. There’s also a bunch of downloadable cars to download including a Skyline from Fast and the Furious and the DeLorean from Back to the Future – my favourite. All of the cars fit into one of ten types all with slightly different stats. You’ll also have noticed there’s a couple of Nintendo only designs, there’s a Mario and Luigi car and also one for Samus. Like other platform exclusive cars in Rocket League, no one who isn’t on a Switch won’t see these but it doesn’t really matter – you can see it.
Rocket League is an indie success story, and to have it in the Switch’s library year-one is terrific. Look at all the jaggies you like and mock the lower resolution the game runs at if you feel the need, but this is Rocket League, portable and it runs beautifully. Everything is here, nothing has been missed and there are bonuses for Switch owners not only with exclusive Mario cars and hats but also the ability to take it anywhere. A feature that cannot be overlooked.
Rocket League is a really deep game. Following the clichéd “easy to learn, hard to master” approach holds Rocket League in good stead. You’re going to want to put in the hours to be the best you can – but the only thing that’s really going to stop you is sleep. You’re not going to put this one down.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
- Silky smooth Rocket League anywhere
- Parity with other versions of the game
- Cross-platform play
- Portable mode looks a bit tish
- Figuring out split screen took a bit
- UI is cramped and blurry at times