Rocket League, Psyonix’s rocket powered soccer game, is primed to become to next big E-Sport. With a brand new “Hoops” mode coming out tomorrow (4/26/2016) and it’s own twitch broadcasted championship league starting on 4/30/2016, it’s the perfect time to get involved. One thing that makes Rocket League unique, compared to nearly any other E-Sport, is how much fun it is even as a brand new player. E-sports are synonymous with steep learning curves that bar many interested parties from getting past the “newbie phase” but Rocket League throws, or even rockets, that concept out the window with an incredibly high skill cap that still allows first time players to giggle in glee as they rocket the ball around the field for the first time.
Even though simply smacking the ball around the field is a whole lot of fun if you plan on tackling ranked play you should try to pick up some knowledge before you get a couple of angry teammates wondering what you are doing. Here are some quick and easy tips that can make a huge difference in ranked team play.
10. Know your position (Forward/Wing)
At the start of every match and after every goal, each player is placed into a position on the field to start from. Unless your team specifies otherwise, you should consider that your position until the next goal. If you are lined up diagonally from the ball you should use your entire boost to get a solid hit on the ball right away and consider yourself in the forward/wing position. In this position you are going to generally be responsible for carrying the ball down field and centering your team( more information on centering below) as well as taking a shot on goal when you have an open shot.
9. Know your position (Midfield)
When you are lined up directly in front of the ball but not the closest player to the goal you are going to be in the midfield position. This position means that you are going to be moving with your forward to try and take shots that they set up. You also are going to be responsible for intercepting incoming balls and opposing players before they reach your goalie, if possible.
8. Know your position (Goalie)
If you are the closest player to the goal you should consider yourself the goalie. This is fairly self explanatory but there is a lot more to playing goalie than simply sitting in the goal. Positioning is key for a goalie and you always want to try to keep your car centered on the ball as that will make it much easier to adjust when the shot comes in. Also do not wait for the ball to reach you, blocking a shot is a firm mixture of being patient enough to not get juke’d by the attacker and being able to leap out for the block upon their final touch. If you have a clear chance to clear the ball as the goalie you should always take it but be wary that if you leave the goal and your opponent has a chance to get another hit on the ball, you could be caught out of position quite easily and give them an open net.
7. Boost is King
If you are low on boost filling up to at least 50% should be one of your top priorities as boost generally will be the difference between a made shot or block and a missed one. Whenever you are going up or down the field try to keep an eye out for the 6 full boost points located on the left and right corners and middle of the field. If you see one is available be sure to swing into it.
6. Be a Team Player
Hitting the ball is always satisfying no matter what but sometimes restraint is necessary as you may be keeping your teammate from making a perfectly lined up shot. Think about whether you have a good angle on the ball before you hit the ball and if you have time, look around you to see where you allies are and if they are in position. Of course sometimes you have to make desperation plays and don’t have time to consider your team, in these situations just do your best. The team that passes better is generally the team that plays better. If you see your teammate following you down field wait until the defenders start to hone in on you and tap the ball toward your teammate and see if they can get a better shot at the ball. If you are going too fast to give a tap try to center the ball by pushing the ball into the corner and having it pop up toward the center of the goal.
5. Practice Ball Control
Sometimes it’s hard to keep yourself from slamming into the ball and there is definitely a time and a place for clearing the ball but a lot of the time it’s much better to take the ball down the field yourself. Keeping the ball close to your car as you take it down the field will allow you to alter it’s course to avoid pesky defenders that will thrust themselves toward you attempting to clear the ball. Even a slight tap can send them spiraling downfield empty handed. While first learning ball control you may have to move down the field quite slowly and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the scariest thing as a goalie is someone taking their time to set up a perfect opportunity. Of course this makes you an easier target for defenders but as you practice this you can pick up the speed and get to the point where you are breaking axles and making highlights.
4. Know Your Limits
After seeing someone launch themselves off a wall and boost their way into a spectacular aerial, it’s impossible not to see ourselves up there along them. Unfortunately aerials and any of the more difficult moves in Rocket League require a lot of practice to even attempt and trying them out in ranked games before taking the necessary practice sessions will more than likely leave you sailing downfield with your team ready to start flaming you. Training sessions, free play and eventually un-ranked matches are the perfect places to master the more difficult techniques. It’s best to make the plays you are comfortable with and keep practicing until you can consistently make them, before trying anything too tricky in ranked.
3. Learn How to Properly Clear
A common costly mistake of new players is when they attempt to clear the ball, they end up setting the opposing team up for a perfect shot on goal. This is rooted in the anxiety that comes with having the ball near your net but it’s important to look at your opponents and where they are lined up near the goal. If none of them have a clear shot don’t freak out and pop the ball unless you know you can clear it down the field. The worst thing you can do is tip it into the air near your goal or bounce it off the wall near your goal as that is right where your opponents want the ball. If you don’t have a great angle or it’s too risk just tap the ball to the outside and you might set up a teammate for an easy clear or at least make your opponents shot a little harder.
2. Do Not Ram Your Team
Rocket League is a beautiful mess sometimes and we wouldn’t have it any other way but nothing is more frustrating than getting bounced around by your own team. Consider the fact that every time you ram a teammate you could be preventing them from making a game changing play. If your ally has a better position let them make the hit, you can position yourself in a place to make a play on the ball where they are heading. Being considerate of your team is especially important when you are transitioning into a defensive position. Don’t blindly drift into the goal unless you know it’s empty because you might just knock your, perfectly positioned, goalie into the back of the net. You don’t want to be on fail cam after the goal with everyone watching you pop your teammate out of place.
1. Practice Your Flips
Flips are how you make plays. Whether it’s drilling the ball into the goal, tapping the ball over a defender or back-flipping a ball out of the net, flips are crucial for being a good Rocket League player. The most obvious is the front flip which is great at generating power and slamming a ball deep into the net or clearing a ball out of your territory but be wary of overpowering the situation. Barrel-rolls are great for hitting a ball you are slightly out of position for and can be used both left and right. They are also great for swinging to one side during a block after your opponent makes their strike. Last but not least the back-flip is great as a last resort both on offense and defense when your back is to the ball and you need to connect. It can also be used when you don’t know where exactly the ball is coming from so just do a back-flip and hope for the best.
With these tips and a little practice you should be primed for ranked play so get those tires spinning and prep yourself for takeoff.
Feel free to share your favorite Rocket League moments or tips below in the comments.