When Rocket League first burst onto the PlayStation 4 scene back in 2015, it kind of went under my personal radar for quite some time. Even after downloading the game for free through PS Plus it just sort of sat there for several months before my friends and I started it randomly one night. Since then we moved up the ranks into the “Pro” status level, earned tons of new decals and antennas, and yet still managed to feel incredibly inadequate at the game skill-wise. After a couple fun-filled months, I thought we were kind of done with
Car Soccer Rocket League. That is until the most recent Rumble update added an entirely new and fun mode to the mix.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Rocket League is a game of soccer played with rocket powered vehicles. Either 1v1 or on teams of two, three, or four, you need to push an exceptionally large ball into your opponents goal while protecting your own goal from your rivals doing the same. It’s fast paced, frantic, hectic, and all kinds of fun when you manage to make something look like you have skill and actually meant to do that.
My main gripe with Rocket League was how unbalanced the matches got later on down the road. Sure, I developed some skills after hours in the game, but when I was going up against “Pros” and “Veterans” who knew advanced game mechanics like using boosts to literally fly through the air, how to maintain speed even when falling from the ceiling, and lastly, and I’m being completely honest here, how to actually turn your car and hit the ball properly, the game didn’t feel fun anymore. The experience shifted from a lighthearted game of car soccer to a bitterly competitive game of, well, car soccer!
Enter Rumble. In this new 3 vs. 3 game mode, teams are given random power-ups to aid in their pursuit of looking like you know what you’re doing. Before release, I thought the Rumble mode kind of looked like Mario Kart meets Rocket League, and while that’s not an inaccurate analogy, it’s not quite the best way to describe it. The new powerups all add a lot more chaos to an already chaotic game a la Mario Kart, but they also add a strange new layer of strategy to the competition.
Some items are solely used to disrupt your opponents. The boot, for example, extends from your car to the nearest opponent and, well, boots them out of the way. A teleport power-up switches the place of your car with that of an opponent’s, and a power boost lets you demolish any opponent you crash into instantly, regardless of speed. Offensive themed power-ups like the grappling hook and plunger seek out the ball instead of other cars. What I call support power-ups make up the other third of new enhancements. These range from a freeze ability which stops the ball in it’s tracks, to a spike power-up which lets you stick the ball to your own car and drive around! Just like in a Mario Kart game, you need to play around with each ability to see just how effective and ineffective they are in certain situations, but once you get even a bit into the action you’ll have a whole new respect for Rocket League.
As I said before, the big reason I was done with Rocket League was because I just wasn’t good enough to compete with the skill level I was being placed with during matchmaking. With Rumble, there’s so much more left up to chance and randomness that the game is much more approachable. Even though I found myself playing with obviously less skilled Rocket League-ers, they were still formidable because they could sprout some spikes and just drive the ball into my goal. Games went from strategic placements of cars and boost jumps to timing the use of your tornado power to screw with the opponents. It’s great!
With the update there were also some new added levels, including a couple that aren’t just the same old arenas with different aesthetics. A stage set in Japan features elevated sides of the arena, making dribbling and long shots feel a lot more challenging (as well as an announcer who actually speaks Japanese!). More notably is a stage with a pair of walls stuck right in the center of the arena itself! These new stages add much needed variety to the stage selection, and require players to do a lot more than they’re used to in order to prevail. I encourage Psyonix to continue this trend in arena making in the future!
Criticisms for the new mode are scant simply because it’s entirely self contained, and if you don’t want to play it you just don’t have to select it. That being said, some power-ups feel less impactful than others, like the speed boost and power boost. Also, Rumble is only available in 3v3 matches, which is congruent with the other game modes like Hoops and Snow Day, but I still think Rumble would be incredibly fun as a 4v4 mode as well! Maybe in a future update…
Have you played the new mode yet? It’s a free download, so if you already have Rocket League there’s really no reason to pass on the update! Speaking of owing the game, for just $20 the game is incredibly worth it! Considering how popular the game remains, it’s likely safe to say Psyonix will continue to support it with content updates and patches for the coming months and years to come! This is a game about race cars and soccer, two things I can say without conviction that I am not into at all on their own, but I somehow find myself gravitating toward this quirky title again and again. With straight up fun additions like Rumble, it’s easy to see why!