The ball in play is comparable to that perpetually bouncing beach ball you find at every music festival, only slightly less buoyant. It bounces and flies in unpredictable directions when touched by two parties at the same time. This is where fortune favors the Rocket League sportsperson who embraces chaos. Transcendence comes when you realize you don’t have to be in control of the ball at all times; you should chase it only when you think you can make a difference.
A goal scored ends the fleeting, yet fulfilled, existence of a ball. In its death, the ball’s life is celebrated with a literal bang. It’s a colorful, smoke-filled explosion that sends all the cars flying away at heights and velocities that would kill any human in real life. It is so spectacular that you can’t help but savor the blast, even if you weren’t on the team that scored. Rocket League is that rare kind of video-game sport where you’re compelled to play your best, even when you’re being blown out 5-1 and there’s only a minute left on the clock.
There’s no shortage of advanced ball handling in online multiplayer. In Rocket League, experience leads to tactical thinking. Tactical thinking leads to performing with finesse. You cannot open car doors to use them like arms; that would be the equivalent of a handball in soccer. Instead, you can spin your car forwards, backwards, and sideways, which is analogous to bicycle kicks and headers. Once you learn to use these moves to advance the ball, you are soon ricocheting shots on goal. Over time, you also discover that your chances of scoring are boosted by hitting the car closest to the ball rather than the ball itself. It’s all obvious highlight reel material, which is why the replay save option is so welcome. Learning and mastering these advanced moves makes playing Rocket League endlessly absorbing, even after you’ve logged over 50 matches.