How to Play Rocket League: Beginner’s Guide

We take an in-depth look at one of esports most popular games and explain just how Rocket League works.

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In a world of shooters, violent games, and team-based chaos. Rocket League sets out to offer something different. While the title “esports football” should really go to FIFA, Rocket League is the scene’s most true rendition of the sport, without being a simulation of the real thing.

Rocket League has had a steady climb to the top of the gaming and esports space with its initial free offering as part of PlayStation Plus on PS4 a key factor in that. More recently, the developer was purchased by Epic Games as Rocket league moved to a Free-to-play model. In the year since that purchase, the game has grown leaps and bounds and now finds itself as one of the best-regarded esports.

What is Rocket League?

Rocket League is football with cars or a Top Gear segment made real. Released in 2015, it was the successor to “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars”, the game found instant success, especially on console. The other major element of Rocket League is taken from Demolition Derby with a key part of your side’s defence being to destroy the opposing team’s car.

Each match of Rocket League lasts around 5-minutes, split into two halves, with overtime at the end of the second half if required. Matches can be played from 1v1 to 4v4, with 3v3 used as the game’s competitive and esports modes. The game is now free-to-play, using a “season pass” system to support the game.

Where to Play Rocket League

The core version of Rocket League is now available across all the most popular platforms. For PC players, they can pick up the game on Epic Games (it has recently been removed from purchase on Steam) – on console, it’s available on PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, and Switch. The game is also available on Linux and macOS.

Recently, a mobile spinoff of the game Rocket League Side Swipe was released Worldwide across IOS and Android.

Champions and Roles in Rocket League

The first major change with Rocket League compared to other esports titles is the lack of Champions or classes. In official settings, Rocket league is played 3v3, with all three players operating across the field. Generally speaking, sides will have specialists are normally fit into three roles:

First-man – The person who starts the match off, similar to a drop start in hockey. You’ll need to get the first hit on the ball and set your team off.

Second-man – Working as the central player in the side, the second-man needs to look for openings in the attack, while never leaving the last-man stranded in defence.

Last-man – The support role of the side, the last-man is effectively a goalkeeper in football and is your team’s last line of defence.

Crucially, this isn’t often a defined role, you won’t select which one of these roles.  Rather, you’ll need to decide on the fly who’s doing what role.

How do you Play?

It’s football with cars. That’s about as simple as you can explain it, but fundamentally, that’s what Rocket League is all about. You’ll work together with your other two teammates to score as many goals as possible across the two halves.

As mentioned in the section above, there are three roles in Rocket League, and the way you’ll decide what role to play as the action unfolds. For example, if you attack, and your two teammates follow you up, you’ll need to become the last man to make up for the space. Now, this level of communication isn’t always going to happen, but if you do your part, you’ll be part of the way there.

How to Gain Ranks and Improve

Rocket League is a very simple game at face value. Hit the ball into the enemy teams’ goal, and don’t let them score in your goal. Obviously, there are complicated technics that come with experience. One of the most impressive, and hardest to master is “juggling” or “air dribbling”. Getting the basics down is a good start, but if you want to cut it with the best players in Rocket league, you’ll need to learn. The video above is a good place to start.

Ultimately, like any team-based game, the best way to improve is to work with your team. Be that via in-game communication, or by joining with friends on voice chat.

If you want to learn more about other titles, we’ve got beginner’s guides for both League of Legends and CS:GO.

David Hollingsworth has written for games media and esports outlets for the last seven years. His work has appeared in websites such as Esports Insider, ESTNN, Red Bull and Esports News UK. His focus is mostly on League of Legends and World of Warcraft, the latter of which he’s an advisor for with the British Esports Association. David shares his League of Legends betting tips with readers of the MansionBet blog every week.
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