- CPU: Info
- CPU SPEED: 2.5 GHz Dual core
- RAM: 4 GB
- OS: Windows 7 (64 bit) or Newer (64 bit) Windows OS
- VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce 760, AMD Radeon R7 270X, or better
- PIXEL SHADER: 5.0
- VERTEX SHADER: 5.0
- FREE DISK SPACE: 20 GB
- DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 2048 MB
- CPU: Info
- CPU SPEED: 3.0+ GHz Quad core
- RAM: 8 GB
- OS: Windows 7 (64 bit) or Newer (64 bit) Windows OS
- VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 470, or better
- PIXEL SHADER: 5.1
- VERTEX SHADER: 5.1
- FREE DISK SPACE: 20 GB
- DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 3072 MB
Rocket League is a vehicular soccer video game developed and published by Psyonix. The game was first released for Windows and PlayStation 4 in July 2015, with ports for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch being released later on. In June 2016, 505 Games began distributing a physical retail version for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment taking over those duties by the end of 2017. Versions for macOS and Linux were also released in 2016, but support for their online services were dropped in 2020. The game went free-to-play in September 2020.
Described as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars”, Rocket League has up to eight players assigned to each of the two teams, using rocket-powered vehicles to hit a ball into their opponent’s goal and score points over the course of a match. The game includes single-player and multiplayer modes that can be played both locally and online, including cross-platform play between all versions. Later updates for the game enabled the ability to modify core rules and added new game modes, including ones based on ice hockey and basketball.
Rocket League is a sequel to Psyonix’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a 2008 video game for the PlayStation 3. Battle-Cars received mixed reviews and was not a success, but gained a loyal fan base. Psyonix continued to support themselves through contract development work for other studios while looking to develop a sequel. Psyonix began formal development of Rocket League around 2013, refining the gameplay from Battle-Cars to address criticism and fan input. Psyonix also recognized their lack of marketing from Battle-Cars and engaged in both social media and promotions to market the game, including offering the game for free for PlayStation Plus members on release.
Rocket League was praised for its gameplay improvements over Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle-Cars, as well as its graphics and overall presentation, although some criticism was directed towards the game’s physics engine. The game earned many industry awards and saw over 10 million sales and 40 million players by the beginning of 2018. Rocket League has also been adopted as an esport, with professional players participating through ESL and Major League Gaming along with Psyonix’s own Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS).
Rocket League‘s gameplay is largely the same as that of its predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. Players control a rocket-powered car and use it to hit a ball that is much larger than the cars towards the other team’s goal area to score goals, in a way that resembles indoor soccer, with elements reminiscent of a demolition derby. Players’ cars have the ability to jump to hit the ball while in mid-air. The players can also pick up a speed boost by passing their cars over marked spaces on the field, enabling them to quickly cross the field, use the added momentum to hit the ball, or ram into another player’s car to destroy it; in the latter case, the destroyed car respawns moments later on their team’s side of the field. A player may also use a boost when in the air to propel themselves forward in flight, allowing players to hit the ball in the air. Players can alter their car’s orientation while midair, which combined with midair boosting allows for controlled flight. Players can also perform quick dodges, causing their car to do a short jump and spin in a given direction, which can be used to nudge the ball or gain positioning advantage over the other team.
Matches are usually five minutes long, with a sudden death overtime if the game is tied at that point. Matches can be played from between one-on-one up to four-on-four players, as well as in casual and ranked playlists. The latter serves as Rocket League‘s competitive online mode, where players compete in various tiered ranks within game seasons, with victories or losses raising or lowering a player’s rank, respectively. The game includes a single-player Season mode, with the player competing with computer-controlled players. An update in December 2016 introduced Custom Training sequences that can be created by players and shared with others on the same platform; players are able to specify the ball’s path and the presence and skill of opponents on the field as to practice specific shots-on-goal over and over.
A few months after it was released, Psyonix released an update that added game modes known as mutators, modifying some aspects of gameplay, such as increased or decreased gravity, ball size, ball speed and bounciness. For the 2015 holiday season, another update replaced mutator matches with an ice hockey-inspired mode (called Snow Day), played on an ice rink and the ball replaced with a hockey puck with different physics. Positive reception to the ice hockey mode led to it being extended for a few weeks after the holiday season. Snow Day was permanently added to the mutator settings for private matches and exhibition games on February 10, 2016. Hoops, a game mode based on basketball, was added on April 25, 2016. A separate Rumble mode, which incorporates unusual power-ups, such as the ability to freeze the ball in place or cause a single opponent to have difficulty controlling their car, was added on September 8, 2016. An update in December 2016, known as Starbase ARC and based on Psyonix’ mobile game ARC Squadron, added support for custom arenas for Windows players supported through Steam Workshop, along with other new content. In celebration of Super Bowl LV in February 2021, Psyonix released a limited time gamemode called Gridiron, which functions similar to gridiron football with the normal soccer ball being replaced by a football.
A new game mode, Dropshot, was added in a March 2017 update. It takes place in an arena without any goals and a field made of hexagonal tiles, and uses a ball that becomes increasingly electrified after successful strikes or passes. The more the ball is struck by players without touching the ground the more electrified it becomes, and the more tiles it damages once it finally does hit the ground. The goal of the mode is to damage the opponent’s floor enough to break a hole into it, allowing the ball to drop through and score. When a team scores, the floor on the opponent’s side of the field resets to normal, while the floor on the scoring team’s side retains any existing damage.
As part of a means to monetize the game beyond downloadable content, Psyonix has tried a few different approaches. In September 2016, it introduced a loot box system known as Crates, where players could purchase them with a random selection of in-game customization items, opened through the purchase of Keys using real-world funds. Due to increasing governmental concern over loot boxes, Psyonix replaced the Crates system with Blueprints in December 2019, which offer a known specific item with potential modifiers as potential end-of-match drops. These Blueprints can then be crafted using the game’s new premium currency (Credits), or purchased with real-world funds, if the player so chooses. A new rotating Item Shop was introduced in December 2019 as well, with Featured items available on a 48-hour timer and Daily items on a 24-hour timer. The Item Shop includes all types of in-game items, such as Painted Cars, Exotic Wheels, Goal Explosions, and many more. Each item has a listed Credit value that will show the item’s cost, allowing players to purchase the exact item they want, instead of relying on RNG to attain a specific item previously available through loot boxes. Separately, Psyonix added a battle pass feature to the game in September 2018, known as the Rocket Pass. Each pass, which lasts a few months, has challenges and other opportunities through playing Rocket League that allow players to increase the tier of the Pass, from which new unique customization options tied to that pass can be unlocked. While the Rocket Pass is free to all players, a flat-cost premium option that accelerates the level up rate and unlocks additional items at certain tier levels can be purchased.
Its mobile game version, Rocket League Sideswipe, plays almost the same, except the game is now in 2D instead of 3D.
Rocket League has been one of the leading games in supporting cross-platform play between personal computers and consoles. Jeremy Dunham, Psyonix’s vice president of publishing, says cross-platform play helps establish a stable player base and avoid the snowball effect that can cause isolated player bases on individual platforms to wane, particularly in the transition from one console generation to the next. Though the Xbox One version lacked this feature at launch, Microsoft in March 2016 announced that Rocket League would be the first game in a new initiative they were taking to enable cross-play between Xbox One and Windows players who have Xbox Live accounts; this cross-platform play feature was added in an update in May 2016. Microsoft has stated that they offer other networks, such as Sony’s PlayStation Network, the ability to integrate with Xbox Live to allow full cross-platform compatibility for games like Rocket League. Dunham noted that this cross-platform idea had been something they asked Microsoft about when Rocket League was set for an Xbox One release, but he stated that Microsoft did not seem to be on board with it. Only after they had neared the release date would Microsoft take the initiative to offer it as one for their new cross-play efforts and started working towards this possibility in the game.
Psyonix determined the required technical steps needed to enable cross-platform play and have tested it in closed environments, and were only waiting for the legalities of cross-connecting players between different networks before proceeding. this work also includes how they would be able to distribute updated content patches in a unified and more frequent manner to enable them to continue to expand the game for at least another 9 months. In a July 2016 interview with IGN, Dunham stated they had done all the technical work and could enable cross-platform play between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions “within a few hours” of Sony’s approval. As of March 2017, the company is ready to enable this feature, but was still waiting for the console manufacturers to come to the required agreements to allow it.
With the announcement of the Switch version, Psyonix affirmed that it would support cross-platform play with PC and Xbox users. Sony still opted not to participate in this; PlayStation global marketing head Jim Ryan said that while they are “open to conversations with any developer or publisher who wants to talk about it”, their decision was “a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders”. Dunham says that in contrast to Microsoft or Nintendo, who agreed to allow cross-platform play within a month and with the day of Psyonix’ request, respectively, Sony has been asked on a nearly daily basis about this support and have yet to receive any definitive answer. The cross-platform party feature is planned for an update in early 2019. This will allow players to create in-game friend lists across platforms and play in matches with them. This is limited by the current cross-platform limitations: while Windows players can add friends from other Windows users and Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch users, PlayStation 4 users are limited to Windows and PlayStation 4 users.
In September 2018, Sony had altered its position on cross-platform play following the release of Fortnite Battle Royale for the Nintendo Switch, where the lack of cross-platform play had been a point of significant criticism. Sony allowed Fortnite to be cross-platform play compatible with all platforms and stated they would review other games on a case-by-case basis. By January 2019, Psyonix announced that Sony had granted the same for Rocket League, allowing cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC versions in February 2019.
Psyonix had previously developed Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars in 2008 for the PlayStation 3. That game itself bore out from previous modifications that Psyonix’ founder, Dave Hagewood, had done for Unreal Tournament 2003 by expanding out vehicle-based gameplay that Epic Games had already set in place in the engine into a new game mode called Onslaught. For this, Hagewood was hired as a contractor by Epic for Unreal Tournament 2004 specifically for incorporating the Onslaught mode as an official part of the game. Hagewood used his experience at Epic to found Psyonix. Among other contract projects, Psyonix worked to try to find a way to make racing the Unreal vehicles in a physics-based engine enjoyable. They had toyed with several options such as race modes or mazes, but found that when they added a ball to the arena to be pushed by the vehicles, they had hit upon the right formula, which would become Battle-Cars. Further to the success was the addition of the rocket-powered cars; this originally was to be a simple speed boost, but with the physics engine, they were able to have the vehicles fly off and around the arena, furthering the possibilities for gameplay.
As Psyonix finished development of Battle-Cars, the studio had tried to gain access to a publisher by selling their game as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars”; none of the publishers seemed interested. Ultimately, they opted to self-publish the game on the PlayStation Network with almost no marketing. Though it was downloaded more than two million times, it was not considered very successful even after the studio cut the price. The studio continued on to other projects, though kept the idea of building on Battle-Cars as an option, recognizing the game had a small but dedicated fan-base that provided them with ideas for expansion. These other projects, which including contract work for AAA games, including Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War, helped to fund the development of Rocket League.
Full development of Rocket League started around 2013 and took around two years and under $2 million to develop, though they had tested various prototypes of a Battle-Cars sequel in the years prior, including an unsuccessful attempt at pitching the game’s idea to Electronic Arts in 2011. Psyonix used some of the feedback from Battle-Cars to fine-tune the gameplay in Rocket League. A key requirement for Psyonix was to increase the game’s frame rate from 30 to 60 frames-per-second, a known criticism from Battle-Cars and essential for newer hardware, according to Corey Davis, the design director at Psyonix. Hagewood recognized that Battle-Cars was considered “too hardcore” with the game becoming too inaccessible to novice players against skilled ones. They eased up on some aspects to make it more approachable, such as by slowing the pace of the game and allowing players of all skill levels to reasonably compete against each other while promoting team-based gameplay. Though they tried to add elements like power-ups, they found these to be too distracting to gameplay. They also explored other changes such as making the game more gritty, akin to Monday Night Combat, developing several mini-games related to handling of the car, working on making the graphics give a sense of scale to the players to give the impression they were controlling full-sized vehicles rather than radio-controlled cars, and creating an open world structure where the player would drive between stadium and stadium to participate in matches. Instead, the team opted to strip the game to its core, focusing on more visual elements to enhance the title. From Battle-Cars, Psyonix recognized very few players actually went online, and developed Rocket League‘s single-player season mode to encourage players to try online matches once they completed it.
Psyonix’s team were aware of past difficulties that they had with Battle-Cars and other racing games with online play and client-side prediction, and the issues that would arise from that with Rocket League‘s fast-paced play style. To solve this, the physics in the game are based on using the Bullet physics engine within the Unreal Engine 3’s PhysX engine, which tracks the movement of all the cars and actors, allowing them to periodically re-synchronize the game state across players based on the stored physics states, which enabled players to have quick reactions from their client. At the time of Battle-Cars, Psyonix could not afford a dedicated server network and were forced to rely on individual hosts, which could lead to poor performance with slow Internet connections. With Rocket League, Psyonix was able to put a dedicated server network in place, writing their own service protocols to interface with Sony’s and Valve’s online services so as to enable cross-platform play, as well as improving matchmaking capabilities. Psyonix’s previous experience in contract work for AAA games had exposed them to the larger developers’ approach to release and quality control, and they were able to apply those principles and aim for the same level of quality requirements in the final release of Rocket League.
Psyonix had at one point considered having Rocket League as a free-to-play game with microtransactions, inspired by Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2‘s models. Though they had put in efforts to establish a free-to-play model, Psyonix decided instead to switch to a traditional sale method, and offer only cosmetic elements as downloadable content, assuring that no players would have any additional advantage beyond their own skill. The name Rocket League was selected in part to reduce the size of the game’s title in order to appear fully in digital storefronts, and also served to be an easier to remember name as well as a more mature-sounding title than Battle-Cars, according to Hagewood; speaking on Rocket League‘s development in March 2016, Davis opined that Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars was “the worst game name of all time”.
In April 2021, company announced that they would release Rocket League Sideswipe for iOS and Android.
Rocket League was officially announced as the sequel to Battle-Cars in February 2014. Building on the effects from the lack of marketing with Battle-Cars, Psyonix developed a different marketing approach to Rocket League. This included engaging with YouTube and Twitch video game streamers with early release copies to help spread the word, recognizing that clips from the game would be readily shared through social media. They also opened the game to early alpha and beta testing for several months following the game’s announcement. Davis noted that they otherwise did not spend any money on traditional marketing approaches.
They had originally planned to release the game around November 2014, but had missed this deadline to implement better matchmaking and servers, high frame rates, and removing the free-to-play elements. The game was released publicly on July 7, 2015, for the PlayStation 4 and Windows. Davis considered this serendipitous, as this moved the game out from a busy period of many major releases during the holiday season to the relatively quiet mid-year period, reducing the amount of competition from other titles. Further, the game on release was made part of Instant Game Collection on the PlayStation 4 and free to PlayStation Plus subscribers; within the week, Psyonix had seen more than 183,000 unique players, exceeding their server capacity and requiring them to improve on their network code to handle the influx of players. Davis estimated there were six million downloads of the game from this promotion, and considered this the “best decision” they had ever made.
At The Game Awards 2015, it was announced that the game would be ported to Xbox One, where it was released on February 17, including most of the previous DLC packs for free. Ports for macOS and Linux were released on September 8, 2016. A retail version of Rocket League, in form of the game’s Collector’s Edition, was announced in February 2016, and was released in Europe on June 24, 2016, and in North America on July 5, 2016. The Collector’s Edition is published and distributed by 505 Games, and includes the first three downloadable content packs for free, as well as four additional cars to be available as digital download on July 18: Aftershock and Marauder (both from Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars), as well as Esper and Masamune. In October 2017, Psyonix announced that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment would begin to publish an updated version of the game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles by the end of that year, which includes additional content for both versions.
The PlayStation 4 version was patched in February 2017 to offer PlayStation 4 Pro support, allowing for 4K resolution and constant 60 frames-per-second rendering at 1080p for one and two-player split-screen players; three and four-player split screen will render up to 60 frames-per-second when possible. Similar rendering improvements were also made to the standard PlayStation 4 to approach constant 60 frames-per-second for most arenas and modes.
After reviewing the feasibility of doing so, Psyonix announced that Rocket League would also be released for the Nintendo Switch, as revealed during Nintendo’s press conference during E3 2017. It was released later that year on November 14, and includes Nintendo property customization options, including Mario, Luigi, and Metroid-inspired car designs, and supports cross-platform play with the PC and Xbox One versions. Due to the Switch’s lack of natural support for Unreal Engine 3, some compromises had to be made in the porting process, such as by reducing the graphical quality to 720p. Despite having to do custom work to make the game run smoothly on the Switch, Dunham was impressed with the work that had been done before release.
Austin, Texas-based studio Panic Button assisted Psyonix with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch ports, and graphical updates to support the PlayStation 4 Pro. In April 2017, Psyonix announced that they had partnered with Tencent to bring a free-to-play version of Rocket League to the Chinese gaming market, with users able to purchase cosmetic items through microtransactions. It was successfully licensed through China’s approval process in July 2019. Because of the continued growth of the game’s player base, Psyonix’s Dunham said they do not anticipate creating any sequel to the game, and instead are expecting to continue to add new features to the game over several years’ time, calling this an “infinite support window”. A small team within Psyonix was set up to explore new features and gameplay ideas to continue to expand Rocket League.
In May 2019, Epic Games announced that it had acquired Psyonix for an undisclosed amount. Psyonix has had a long-standing relationship with the studio (its original North Carolina headquarters were only 12 miles (19 km) away from those of Epic), having worked with it on development tools for the Unreal Engine. As a result of the purchase, the game was planned to be added to the Epic Games Store by late-2019, but Psyonix was unclear over whether the game would become exclusive to the store. The game became subject to review bombing on Steam due to this sale, triggering Steam’s “off-topic review activity” system, which hides reviews that do not correlate with the game itself.
Psyonix announced in January 2020 that as part of a major upgrade to the base game systems, they would be dropping support for macOS and Linux from the game by March 2020. After March 2020, these versions will no longer be able to connect and use the online parts of the game, but can still be played in single player or local multiplayer. Psyonix said in a followup message that macOS and Linux players represented less than 0.3% of the total player base and could not justify keeping these as supported platforms as they advanced the other platforms to newer technology, such as moving the Windows version from DirectX 9 to 11. The developer offered full refunds to the game for macOS and Linux owners regardless of how long they had the game.
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