Rocket League Review – Portable Mayhem (Nintendo Switch)

Rocket League burst onto the scene in 2015 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, and became an instant hit with its wacky premise of rocket-powered cars that played soccer (or football). Since release, Rocket League has made a name for itself for being a game that is both fun and casual, while also being skill-demanding and competitive. It features many different game modes ranging from ranked play to party modes, as well as an insane amount of customization for your cars.

So when Psyonix announced that it would be porting the game over to the Nintendo Switch, many fans were excited, while others asked the question of whether it would be good or not. Could a game like Rocket League work on a handheld? What would multiplayer be like? Is it worth my money?

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Performance

Those returning fans who are looking to buy the game on the Switch, Chances are, the first thing you want to know is how Rocket League performs on the console-handheld hybrid. I’m not sure what black magic Pysonix did, but this game runs like butter 98 percent of the time in handheld mode, and 100 percent while docked.

By butter smooth, I meant the frame rate. Rocket League runs at 60 frames-per-second in both docked and handheld modes, and for many, this is an absolute requirement in competitive games.

Rocket League has a special feature in handheld mode that allows for dynamic resolution based on the stadium that’s being played. According to Psyonix that resolution, on average, is 1024×576 in hadheld mode, and 1280×720 if docked. The resolution being  low does cause what some describe as blurriness when playing, but I’ve found that it looks more like anti-aliasing has been turned completely off. This means that the game looks very pixelated and what would be smooth lines on any other platform is a jagged line on the Switch.

One of the issues I do have with playing Rocket League while docked is the input lag from the joy cons. While this isn’t necessarily a Psyonix issue as it is a handheld problem, it’s a necessary mention since some players might notice as if they’re lagging when playing.

I should also note that the dynamic resolution feature the game sports does sometimes drop the frame rate from time to time.

Do a Barrel Roll!

Rocket League’s gameplay is obviously the selling point, and after almost three years of playing this game, I cannot believe how fun it still is.

For those new to the franchise, Rocket League features, by default, 3v3 matchups with a five-minute time limit. The cars can do acrobats and boost in the air to hit the ball. Boost isn’t infinite though, so you’ll have to be mindful and pick some up by driving over the orange lights on the ground.

You play in rather large stadiums with two goal posts on each end, and the objective is simple— Score more points than the other team. To accomplish this, you can go about it in a plethora of ways, ranging from jumps, flips, barrel rolls and even air balling it to score the finishing goal.

When you first start out, you won’t be used to flipping into the ball to launch it to the other side of the arena, or boosting in the air to save your team from losing, but when you get the hang of it, Rocket League opens the door to a world of adrenaline pumping action and wicked trick shots that make you stand up and scream with excitement.

For veterans of Rocket League, be aware that while playing with joy cons may seem super weird in theory, in practice they are excellent and feel completely natural. I almost forget I’m playing on the Switch and not on PC because of this, but there is a bit of adjusting to do if you’re playing docked.

No Boredom No Cry

Rocket League isn’t just about 3v3 match-ups, a myriad of different game types exist for every type of player. Whether you’ve one friend, two friends, or you hate just plain old rocket-powered battle-cars playing soccer, you can find a different game type that does it for you.

These include 1v1, 2v2, the default 3v3, and the incredibly crowded and panic-inducing 4v4 mode aptly titled “chaos,” because who knew adding two extra cars to the match could make it so wild to play.

Aside from the vanilla modes that only let you play car soccer, Psyonix includes game types that have different physics for the ball or cars called mutators.

There are five current mutators in the game:

  • Dropshot — Instead of scoring in a goal post, you’re objective is to use the electrified ball and break the opponents floor panels, and then score in those gaps. Highly recommend this mode if you’re wanting to yell at your TV a lot.
  • Rumble — The most beloved mode next to Snow Day, players are given 11 different power-ups that range from freezing the ball mid-air to punching your enemies in the windshield, all while trying to score the ball. This is by far the best party mode to play with friends.
  • Snow Day — It’s hockey and the people who play this mode play it religiously, so be prepared to lose until you’re matched with Steve Yzerman.
  • Hoops — Basketball meets rocket-powered cars that can do acrobats. I love this mode when wanting to practice aerial shots or just general car control in the air.
  • Rocket Labs — This one is a unique mode because all of the maps and matches are quite different every round. Why? Because this is the test environment for new modes and maps, so you’re interested in playing why Psyonix is coming up with next, give this one a go.

What about the competitive people who like to type “gg ez” into the chat and spam “what a save,” are there no ranked game modes? Of course there are. Rocket League sports four ranked playlists to choose from, all with their own separate rankings and elos.

You better practice in the very well done training mode before you start your path from gold to bronze though, because unlike the casual modes, knowing your ball control and positioning is crucial to winning matches.

Red Makes Car Fast

My absolute favorite thing about Rocket League is the insane amount of cosmetics that can be acquired and equipped. You can change the colors of pretty much everything on your car, as well as your booster, and apply different styles of textures, paints, and even give your car hats and custom antennas.

Along with dressing up your car and making it pretty, you can also switch (pun intended) up what type of car you play within casual and competitive matches. Want a truck? You got it. Want a race car that resembles what they drive in Formula 1? Go for it. It should be mentioned that each car does have a slight advantage or disadvantage that is NOT mentioned in the game. Some cars are better at drifting, some are better at controlling when in the air. If you want to know which car does what better, you can click here.

What game with a heavy emphasis on customization wouldn’t have loot boxes? Rocket League for the Nintendo Switch, whether by design or a requirement by Nintendo, ditched loot boxes that Rocket League has on other platforms. In fact, the only microtransactions you can pay for are the cars that were introduced with each new map or promotion.

There are 17 of these car packs, each ranging from $1.99 to $3.99. They all have different levels of customizations and handling mechanics as mentioned before. I know some people are going to bring up pay to win when hearing about cars with different handling mechanics and slight advantages, so I’ll make it clear that the balancing of cars is nowhere near broken or busted. In fact, I think the best handling car is the default you get when you open up the game, so no need to worry at all.

The Sweet Sound Of EDM in the Morning

I’ll make this short— Whoever does the selection of music for Rocket League has a special place in Valhalla because it is phenomenal. Other companies like EA that license music should use Rocket League as an example of how to pick music that sells itself and the game. The menu tracks get you pumped up for you competitive matches and also double as great montage songs for your compilation of wicked trick shot goals.

Rocket League is by far the best multiplayer game to be on the Nintendo Switch as of right now, and whether you’re a returning fan or you’re a curious outsider, and save the technical issues the port has, these are minor issues in the grand scheme of things of being able to enjoy Rocket League on the go.

Score: 9/10

Pros

  • Great performance that has a consistent 60 frames per second
  • Incredible customization to make you stand out
  • A plethora of game modes to keep you hooked
  • Incredible music selection

Cons

  • Low resolution makes the game not so pretty
  • Input lag while playing docked can be frustrating

Rocket League personally bought for the Nintendo Switch.  I reached gold in competitive multiplayer. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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