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Review: Rocket League for Xbox One is the first must-buy of 2016

We've been waiting a while, but the action packed Rocket League is the first Xbox One "must buy" of 2016.

Rocket League

Windows Central Recommended Award

Apart from the obvious titles like Quantum Break, Gears 4, the game I've been waiting for most on Xbox One is Rocket League. So much so I purposely held off numerous times buying it on Steam sales so as to go in fresh when it made its Xbox debut.

It's something of a phenomenon. But one thing was always pretty apparent: Rocket League is exciting, action-packed, and above all else, fun. PS4 and PC gamers have been enjoying motorized kick arounds for a while, but now it's finally on the Xbox.

Has it lived up to the hype? In a word, yes.

Disclosure: This review was conducted on Xbox One using a copy provided by Microsoft.

If you're not familiar, Rocket League is an ID@Xbox release from Psyonix and throws you into the fastest game of football (or soccer, depending on your outlook) you'll ever play. In place of men in shorts are four-wheeled weapons of various styles, entered into five-minute contests to score more goals than your opponents.

After all... that's what football is all about.

It'd be easy to sum Rocket League's gameplay up as easy to pick up, difficult to master. There is a basic tutorial level and a bunch of training regimes of varying difficulty, but the premise is mostly pretty straightforward. You go forwards and backwards, and you steer, occasionally you'll jump or flip through the air and mostly you'll be hammering the turbo boost button. Because we all want to go faster, right?

Mastering the physics led action though is far from simple. It sounds easy. After all, you just drive your car around and 'kick' the ball. Except it's anything but. And while there are going to be some rage inducing moments when you time your run and launch yourself only to wildly miss what you thought you were going to do, you'll keep coming back for more. It takes only a matter of minutes to become hooked.

Action is incredibly fast paced, whether you're in a 1v1, a 4v4 or anything in between. Rocket League does boast a fairly robust single-player mode by way of exhibition matches or a full season, but the most fun is had when you either go split-screen locally or online to play with friends, family, complete strangers, robots, whoever may be on the other end.

Season mode follows the sort of structure any sports title would. You create a team; you play other teams, you progress (hopefully) in the league, win the playoffs and take the prize. A little generic, perhaps, but it's a great place to pick up some quick experience, level up and chase down some of the achievements with relative ease. There is a learning curve, though, so if you crank the difficulty right up be prepared to get it handed to you in the beginning.

Playing Rocket League is a joy. It's not the most graphically intense game ever, which is fine. It looks perfect for what it's set out to be, the arenas are well designed and vibrant, and there are bundles and bundles of vehicles and customizations. The DeLorean from Back to the Future is an additional DLC, but worth it. Why wouldn't you want the DeLorean?!

When you get into the meat and potatoes, though, that is actually playing the game, there's virtually nothing to complain about. Everything is silky smooth, which is of vital importance in a game as frenetic as this. I haven't noticed any jankyness or drops in frame rate, leaving the focus firmly where it should be. It's a pretty perfect example of how a great game should be.

Online play has so far been a largely trouble-free experience. There have been scheduled server downtime periods, but aside from that, there haven't been any major issues. Matchmaking is fast, keeping in the spirit of the game, and it's only a brief wait before the carnage can begin.

One slight annoyance I've found with regards the online play is that if you leave the game open and walk away from your Xbox for any length of time, it can throw you off the servers and not let you back on without relaunching the entire thing. Not a huge dealbreaker, but given the slick, speedy nature of everything else Rocket League has to offer, having to relaunch the game is frustrating. Psyonix are working hard to fix a few outstanding bugs, already shipping patches to rectify some of the worse ones. They've also brought in entire new game modes like ice hockey in free updates, which should help to keep the game fresh down the line.

To wrap up, it's immediately and obviously clear why Rocket League has enjoyed the success it has on PC and PS4. It's just a fun game. Even though tournaments are commonplace, it doesn't ever feel like it's taking itself too seriously. Enjoying yourself is front and center, and it's a refreshing change of pace to many other titles available today.

Pros:

  • Addictive and accessible gameplay
  • Very stable online play
  • Lots of fun for a relatively low price

Cons:

  • Rage quitters paradise, due to lack of punishment

We may have been a little late to the party, but this is the first must-buy title of 2016 for the Xbox One. You won't regret it.

See at the Xbox Store (opens in new tab)

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

39 Comments
  • if you have the chance play this game with your friends !!! I dont have the same amount of fun whenever I playing this game by myself. 
  • I love this game, even by myself using the Season module. Just so much stupid fun.
  • One shouldn't ever add anything new in a conclusion. The rage quitting early line I could not find anywhere in the article. Just a heads up for R. Devine.
  • That's my fault actually, sorry about that. We did different parts due to MWC travelling and so on. Rage quitting isn't a big deal, but it was the only con I could reasonably raise. It can be annoying when you end up in a game that still has several minutes on the clock and you're losing 8-0 cus people keep leaving the game, haha.
  • A very good point worth mentioning in the main section of the article though. Those AI bots aren't much help in an one match! You're right, there should be repercussions for quitting early, especially if you're losing. Good job guys :)
  • Thanks dude
  • How much is it?
  • It varies depending on your region/location. Usually around $20 USD.
  • Thanks Dan Champion Among Editors Have a Good One
  • £15.99 in UK, which I. Think is steep. I prefer them a little lower. But still bought it. Wish Xbox offered a 1st week discount, be a nice incentive.
  • I bought the game and the DeLorean and will buy the batmobile. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Might give this a try. I would say Unravel is a must buy also at $20.
  • Not seeing the appeal of this game at all. Even after watching people play it in person it doesn't look compelling.
  • Take the controller and try it, it feels great!
  • I dislike soccer/football, but this game is hella addicting once you start to play. I could get used to more sports games like this, that are very arcadey.
  • I'm just awaiting the comments about the picture captioned "Jez Corden Scored". Lol. I'll start. Once, long, long ago....
  • I only score in video games. ;-;
  • Lol. The man. The legend. I can't even score in video games. You win. :)
  • haha ;)
  • Unravel was the first must buy for me. If there is a demo for this I'll try it, otherwise I'm not willing to drop money on a game I haven't had the chance to experience yet, unless it's from a developer I trust.
  • If it goes on sale sure but there are more compelling games to spend my money on this year
  • Already have all 1000g in this game. Sooo much fun!
  • Cross platform multiplayer support?
  • Steam and PS4 can play together. Xbox One can only play with Xbox One. Love the game but disappointed in MS for disallowing universal platform play.
  • Yeah, was a buy without thinking and was a great choice! very fun game.
  • Was listening to the Onecast, and their comments swayed me. I'd shown it to my son a few weeks ago and he was gagging for it. So, bought it yesterday. I like it. Can't get past the advanced high jump tutorial though.... This game may well help me beat my Gems of War addiction.
  • Ha, Gems Of War and Rocket League are my jam right now
  • Currently addicted to this game
  • A really stupid game
  • A really stupid comment
  • Does the game support crossplay?
  • No, sadly.
  • It does between Steam and PS4. Xbox is the odd man out.
  • Lol I read that as "does this game support cosplay"
  • No, sadly.
  • Agree with everything in this review. GET ... THIS ... GAME! You won't regret it.
  • Regarding the rage quit, play ranked only as an early quit means 15min ban for the offender. A real cons is no cross-platform on Xbox One. Ridiculous I was looking forward to play some PSN vs Xbox games. In a future update you will be able to report players even if we don't know where it goes right now on PC.
  • Another con is no Cross Platform Play on Xbox with PC, PS4. Although that's Microsoft's fault.
    Amazingly fun game to play with friends.
    Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • First I must not buy it. Why? Just because a game is made and is different doesn't meean I need it. I dont really care for sports games. So for me I feel this isn't my type of game.