People have often told me that Rocket League is their favourite way to de-stress. I’ve never been able to grasp that. To me, Psyonix’s mega-hit is the epitome of competitive gaming, rewarding intense concentration and masterfully honed skills. I’m more of a casual player, perusing the unranked servers, but even those are populated with aerial magicians and prolific goalscorers. And that’s why I’ve been delving into the refreshingly accessible Rumble mode.
Rumble sits alongside the likes of Hoops and Dropshot as one of Rocket League’s lesser-played modes, but it’s not as unpopular as it might seem. In fact, you’ll find thousands of players enjoying it at any one time, making it one of the biggest side-attractions the game has to offer. The mode pits players against one another in otherwise standard 3v3 games, but features power-ups that are given out at regular intervals.
The whole thing descends into a frenzy of over-the-top action, but it also retains the need for strategic thinking as seen in Rocket League’s primary modes, with plenty of ways to maximise each power-up’s effectiveness. Your ability to manipulate these advantages - or counter them – can be the difference between a win or a loss, even despite the perceived randomness on display.
My favourite is the Haymaker. It’s a big boxing glove that explodes out of your car and shoots at the ball. You can use it to line up the perfect shot or make a goal-saving clearance, and the Boot does a similar job by pushing opponents out of the way. The Spike is great, too, piercing the ball and sticking it to your vehicle until someone smashes into you. There’s a fine art to avoiding other players and simply driving the ball into the net. I’ve started to become more disciplined with my timing, too. There’s a ten-second window in which power-ups are generated, and players regularly spam them as soon as they’re available. But holding on a little longer can give you an advantage. Those extra few seconds serve as the perfect opportunity to take advantage of lessimpactful power-ups such as the Magnetizer to generate an attack.
The best thing about Rumble is its ability to provide an all-inclusive kickabout. It serves as the perfect drop-in mode for me and my friends. And while there’s still scope to pull off incredible manoeuvres, we’re often as likely to benefit from luck. It never feels like an overly intense competitive mode.
Alternatively, when I’m not playing with friends, there’s far less of a desire to quit out of frustration. You never know what you’re going to get with random team-mates, but at least in Rumble, you don’t need to rely on them so heavily. I’ve borne witness to less-experienced players scoring goals by accident, using power-ups at coincidentally opportune moments. Even when this goes against you, it’s hard not to chuckle at the sight of it.
That sense of carefree fun is what I’m looking for in Rocket League right now. I’m not dedicated enough to master aerial moves and put up with uncooperative team-mates. I’ve grown tired of playing unranked games with players of varying skill levels. But invite me to a couple of games of Rumble for a few hours, and it’ll require some monumental power of persuasion to tear me away.
“I’m not dedicated enough to master aerial moves and put up with uncooperative team-mates”