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Games of 2015 no. 4: Rocket League


Rocket League is a fun video game to describe to your pals. It's sort of like football, you'll tell them, but instead of the more traditional humanoid players that you might be expecting, with their fleshy limbs and bodies, here we'll be playing the beautiful game with cars. Rocket-fuelled cars. Also, the ball is massive and you can do wicked front flips. Most people are going to want to give that a go, which is useful, because this may well be the best party game of the year. You'll want to get others involved.

Like most things in Rocket League, the objective is a fairly easy thing to grasp - score more goals than the opposing team by bashing your car into the ball at whatever speed you can manage. This initial simplicity, which helps ensure the game is an intuitive one to pick up and play for the first time, does eventually give way to something more substantial.

Things like your rocket boost, for example, can at first prove a difficult thing to use in moderation. When a single button press stands between you and your very top speed, you'll want to use it at every opportunity, but that's not usually the smart way to play. Saving that limited boost for the moments that matter and being able to rush in and just nudge the ball over the goalline when needed, or just place yourself between your opponent and your open goal - that tends to be the sign of a more experienced player. Rocket League offers plenty of opportunities, like this, for players to be the hero their game needs.

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This is helped somewhat by the smaller team sizes, with a standard match setup seeing just three players on each side. The limited headcount creates an environment in which everybody can have a meaningful impact on the outcome of a game, and they'll likely need to fulfil a variety of roles throughout it. Sometimes you'll see a player hold back in a more defensive position, but even then, the better teams tend to change this up as the game progresses, ensuring that everyone can boost into the action when required. We often talk about great games being easy to play, but difficult to master, and I think that's especially important for those that are meant to be experienced with a bunch of friends sitting on a sofa together. It's this additional layer of finesse that will keep you coming back.

I don't know why Rocket League was such a success this year, when its predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars never quite reached the same level. Perhaps it's all in the name? Rocket League does roll off the tongue a little easier, I'll admit. Or perhaps PlayStation Plus is the secret ingredient? It helped get people talking about this wonderful video game from early on. I'm not sure, but I'm delighted to see it being played by so very many people. Rocket League is the best football game I've ever played in forever, and one of the real highlights of 2015.

Full disclosure: Eurogamer took part in an unofficial Rocket League tournament earlier in the year and although we didn't claim first place, we did win more matches than any other video games website. Suck it, GameSpot.