When Rocket League first launched back in 2015 I downloaded it through PlayStation Plus as it was available on launch day for free to Plus members. I played around with it for a few days, played a few online matches and thought the game was good. I never expected that it would turn out to be the phenomenon it has become. In the two years since its release it has grown into a worldwide thing and a thriving eSports League has grown up around it. Two years later it makes its debut on a Nintendo platform and its as good now as its ever been, if not far better.
For anyone that doesn’t know what Rocket League is the game is most easily described as soccer, but with cars. You and a few other players (either AI or Human controlled) form two teams and you knock a large ball back and forth trying to get it into a goal on your opponents end of the field. The pitch is contained inside a clear dome and you can drive up the walls and onto the ceiling to make plays. It’s fast paced, hectic, and if you’re on a good team, incredibly brilliant to watch. There are a few different modes of play, but the primary form played by most online is 3v3 competitive.
If you’re playing offline you have a few different options to choose from. You can play in a league where you create a team, choose the cars they’ll use and even the paint scheme for them. You’ll play in a round robin style league where you’ll play each team a set number of times, depending on the length of the season you’ve chosen. At the end of the season the number of teams chosen to make the playoffs play against each other to determine the overall season champion. Then you can do it all over again. You can play in one off exhibition matches as well choosing many of the parameters such as difficulty, stadium and type of game. There is also the option of playing locally in either split-screen mode or against other players who also on the game on Switch. Playing in split-screen does cause things to be a bit cramped, but it’s still playable and enjoyable to do so.
Once you’ve practiced up a bit offline in some of the game’s pretty extensive tutorials you can take your game online. You can play in casual matches where you’re matched up against other players, usually in your same skill range. You can also choose to play in ranked matches. To begin this you’ll play a series of 10 games to determine what rank or tier you get placed in. From there you’ll play matches where you earn different experience points and if you get good enough you’ll rank up to higher tiers where you can play against even tougher competition. Many of the different game modes that are available offline are available to play in both causal and ranked modes so there is some form of the game that you’ll find enjoyable and like. If you don’t like 3v3, perhaps try some 2v2 or some other mode where the game play gets changed up slightly.
Chances are this is where you’re going to spend most of the time you play as the game supports cross-platform play for players on the Xbox One and PC. The Rocket League community is already well established and thriving so there are thousands of potential opponents available from the start. Switch owners just playing the game for the first time will be able to play against seasoned vets and newcomers to the series. You can also choose to limit your opponents to the Switch or to anyone so keep that in mind as well.
The online worked very quickly. Once you select what type of match you want to play in the system will start the match making process. I was usually in a game within about 15-20 seconds, occasionally having to wait about 30 seconds for a match to start, but never more than that. The connection was always smooth. I never had any performance hiccups. The game looks and runs as well online as it does in offline play. Chat with other players is limited to some pre-selected options that you can access using the d-pad. If you want to chat with friends you can create a party and use a built in text window to type out messages to them. Having a USB keyboard close makes this much easier to do than having to type out the messages with a keyboard. Voice chat would be nice, especially in a game like this that really requires coordination between players to be the most effective. If you want to do that on Switch you’ll have to find an outside means of communication.
Performance wise the game looks and runs really nicely. It’s not quite as smooth as other systems, but the slight downgrade to the visuals doesn’t really hinder the game in any way and for the most part when you’re in a match you’re not going to notice it anyway as you’re focused on the action happening in the match. The game moves so quickly you don’t have time to point out little jagged weirdness in the models. The physics model seems to be exactly like the other versions of the game, the frame-rate stays smooth throughout matches. The slight drop in visual fidelity is worth it for the performance to stay as high as it does. The folks at Panic Button put together this port of the game, much like they did for DOOM on the Switch, and it feels great running in both docked and handheld mode. Most of my time was spent docked when playing online and that may be the preferred way to play it as things do seem to take a slightly higher dip visually in handheld mode than docked. It’s not a lot, but it is noticeable and can make some images in the distance slightly blurry.
If you like unlockables the devs have you covered. As you play you’ll unlock more cars and more customization options to make your car stand out from the crowd. Different types of paint jobs, wearable hats for your car, antenna, explosion effects, sparkles and smoke all give you the chance to mix and match parts to make the car you’d be proud to take onto the pitch. For Nintendo fans they have even included a couple Nintendo themed cars with paint schemes and sound effects resembling Mario, Luigi, and Samus.
There really isn’t much to complain about with this port of Rocket League. The game is as good on this system as it is anywhere and the ability to take and play the game anywhere you wants is a really nice added bonus. Veterans of the series might have their preferred method of playing the game locked in, but if you’re new to the series and you own a Switch this is the perfect platform to own the game on. It’s crazy. It’s hectic. It’s fast. It’s so much fun. I’ve been sucked into the game way more than I expected and I’ve started down a Rocket League rabbit hole I might not be able to get out of for a long time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go finish watching Season 4 of the World Championship.
Review copy of the game provided by the developer.
Played through a full season and numerous online matches.
Total Play Time: 10 hours