Join Me In Playing Some ‘Rocket League Hoops,’ Please

Soccer gets the hype, but the basketball side of the game is where it's at.

On July 7, just a few days short of its one-year anniversary online, Rocket League will finally hit store shelves. The people who actually shell out them money for the game will get a few new cars — which can be purchased as DLC online — but that’s pretty much it. Hey, if that’s your bag, go for it.

For everyone else, though, no waiting is necessary to jump in on the most widely accessible (and super damn fun) game to be released in years. It’s available as a download on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, so no matter how you play, as long as you have a decent internet connection, there’s an option available to you. Rocket League is a great option when you’ve got ten minutes or two hours to sink into some gaming. Even cooler, console players can challenge friends on PC thanks to the title’s cross-platform play.

So, download it, jump into the action, and get ready to customize your car (but don’t use the DeLorean; I called that one already).

What’s So Cool About Cars Playing Soccer?

Rocket League is an idea that’s so absurdly simple, yet so brilliant that it makes you wonder how in the Hell video games went nearly eighty years as a medium before someone thought of it. So, yes, at its core, Rocket League really is just fast cars (that can jump and fly) playing a game of soccer. Add to that an incredible amount of customization, great technical performance, cross-platform play, and short load times, and you’re talking about a really special multiplayer experience.

As a gamer who spends the vast majority of my time on the console tromping through open worlds and actively avoiding a multiplayer experience, Rocket League was a surprise. It’s pure kinetic joy and short wait times between matches make for a fast-moving experience that’s rewarding even for players who aren’t used to twitch gameplay.

Having already launched nearly a year ago, new adopters of Rocket League will be greeted by an already expansive list of play options. New levels and car bodies have been added, and the main game mode has been tweaked with two new game types. The first is a hockey theme called “Snow Day” that is apparently only popular in Michigan judging by the player numbers. The second is the game mode that makes Rocket League. Sure, the futbol is fun, but Hoops is where it’s at.

The Beauty of Two On Two

Hoops excels at player inclusion. Where the standard soccer mode pits teams of three against one another, you’re playing basketball with one teammate on a smaller court than the base game. Where it’s possible to get lost in the shuffle when there are five other cars on the pitch, that doesn’t happen in Hoops. You’re always an integral part of the game when you’re on the court, so you better get to know your car.

Unlike the chaotic scrums that seem to rule the soccer field, Hoops requires its players to get along with and even work with your teammate, whoever they may be. It’s easier to do that in Hoops since you only need to keep track of one compatriot (as well as the ball and your opponents), this task isnt as difficult as it sounds. In a shocking turn of events, Rocket League Hoops is one of those rare multiplayer games stuffed with players who are keen on some teamwork.

Get Some Serious Air

Here’s the thing about soccer. There are occasional moments when you’re afforded the opportunity to use your car’s ability to hop, spin, and glide through the air, but if you’re wise, the vast majority of your time playing soccer is spent on the pitch itself, trying to maneuver that squirrely-ass ball into the damn goal. Of course, because of the very nature of basketball, a big part of Hoops is spent trying to guide your car on just the right path through the air.

It’s an imperfect science to be sure, but that’s half the fun of playing a round of Hoops. Even when you spend the whole match flying blindly at nothing (which happens), Rocket League’s delightfully manic traversal is still fun.

‘Hoops’ Makes Better Use of Your Car

While you should check out the tutorial levels first, anyone can jump into Rocket League and play some soccer without too much trouble. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but any veteran gamer can get the hang of things after a few rounds. Hoops however is a different story.

To get the most out of the basketball-themed game mode, you have to really know the capabilities (and the limits) of your vehicle. You need to know how to jump effectively, how to get airborne (and stay there), and you need to know how to get back on defense.

It can be a tricky combination of skills to master, but when everything comes together, Hoops delivers a sense of satisfaction that easily dwarfs anything you can accomplish playing car soccer.

A N00b’s Paradise

Underneath the hood, the most joyous thing about any Rocket League session is that it’s really welcoming for new players. Sure, there’s a learning curve, but it’s pretty gentle (for real, play through the tutorial). The mechanics are simple and versatile, so creativity and a little bit of strategy are all you really need to have an impact on the game. That goes double in Hoops where the space is tighter and the field is more open.

A video game skill set helps when approaching the game, but it’s not necessary to enjoy Rocket League Hoops. It’s one of those gems where even learning to play (or outright failure) still has a way of making you smile. If you’re not playing yet, or you’re too busy on the pitch, take a break once stoppage time is done and check into Hoops for a few rounds. You might just find yourself addicted.
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