Been playing a lot of Rocket League this past week online. I’ve noticed a lot of my teammates mean well but lack tact when playing. I decided to write up some advice in hopes of reaching as many people as possible. A beginner’s guide of sorts. It might mean the people I compete against get better, but it’s far more frustrating for me when my teammates score an own goal or cluster on the ball. All my time with Rocket League was spent on PS4. I don’t think there is much difference between the PC and PS4 version but I thought I should clarify. Anyways, here’s a bunch of tips to help improve your team play and hopefully your enjoyment of this fantastic game. I’ll break it down into General Knowledge, Strategic Thinking, Offensive Play, and Defensive Play.


General Knowledge

  • Adjust your camera angle
    • This is absolutely huge. The variable range from the closest zoom to the farthest zoom increases your viewing space by 56%. Being able to see what’s going on on the ground around you is vital to your success. The default camera position is limited compared to the maximum view distance. I’d recommend pulling back the camera as far as possible as it really widens your view from side to side as well as the depth of field. You lose a bit of the adrenaline rush from being so in the mix, but the tactical advantage is undeniable.
  • The layout of the court – It’s important to know your way around
    • Outside of the basics of the field being broken into two identical pieces – Be aware that the wall is a valid play space. It’s great for vaulting off of, chasing down the field out of sight, or getting a good vantage point. Know the markings in front of the goal. Know the height of the goal. Being familiar with your surroundings can make the all the difference when you’re staring upwards at a high fly ball and don’t want to accidentally score an own-goal.
  • Location of boosts
    • Boosts are extremely powerful. They give you a speed advantage when scrambling for a loose ball, allows you to switch halves of the field quickly, broadside other cars to explode them for a temporary player count advantage, allow you to fly for a bit, and take extremely powerful shots. Knowing where the boost pads are will let you plan the best travel paths and let you boost more often.
    • There are two kinds of boost pads. The majority of them give you 12% boost recovery, with six outlying locations that provide 100% recovery. Know where these are so you can keep a ready supply. Here’s a field shot showing them, as well as an overhead map.
  • Momentum
    • This is a game of keeping and transferring momentum. With that in mind you need to land from any airtime facing the direction your currently moving. Landing facing left while still going forward will stall all your motion and cost you precious time gaining your ground back. Try and land facing the direction you’re traveling as often as possible. This will result in you being where you want to be instead of trying to get there the whole match.
  • Keep boosts full, use strategically for strikes / defense rushes
    • Now that you have boost power, knowing when to use it and not use it helps. Don’t just mash the turbo because it’s available. You should prioritize using it only when…
      • You’re rushing to defend your open net.
      • There’s a loose ball and you have an open shot.
      • You’re aiming to demolish an opposing player.
      • You’re going to go through or end on a boost pad.
  • Think of the ball as a cue ball (billiards), not a soccer ball
    • This may sound odd, but the physics involved act more like pool than soccer. With soccer you scoop the ball with your foot, allowing a carry of sorts. The physics in this game are all about striking at the right angle in the right spot. Any momentum you’re carrying is transferred into the ball at the point of contact. It’s all about transferring energy from yourself into whatever you’re colliding with. Hitting below the equator will rise the ball, striking the center will keep it level, and hitting above the equator will ground the ball. Hitting another car into the ball will carry your momentum through them to the ball, just like pool.

Strategic Thinking

  • Adapt!
    • Always know your opponents before you decide how to play against them. Charging the ball all the time might be fun, it may get you a win or two, but against better players they will shut you down real fast. The key take away is you can’t use the same play style against every opponent.
      • If you’re playing an aggressive team, play defensively and plan to counterattack on a turnover.
      • If they’re extremely passive, maximize your possession time with the ball.
      • When they’re always clustering, wait for them to bumble the ball loose off each other for an opportunity.
    • Don’t be afraid to switch roles. If your team has a 2+ lead, start hanging back in your half to interrupt any attacking plays. If you get control of the ball, just forward it up the field and let your teammates finish the attack. This is a legit strategy that keeps you in control of the scoreboard.
  • Watch for player types
    • The AI is incredibly good online, so it’s best to learn the AI names to know this during play. Junker, Iceman, Goose, etc. They tend to play defensively by sitting on the goal line and can really rain on your parade. Just know if you see one in net they will be more effective than most players at goalkeeping.
    • Both in your teammates and the opposition – If you’re playing with random people online it’s good to know their play style. Sometimes it pays in dividends to let your over-zealous buddies just charge the ball while you fall back and wait for an opportunity. Likewise, if they other team scores off a kickoff they will likely do it again. This is a good cue to play goal keep at the start of each reset until the ball is in regular play again.
  • Possession, possession, possession!
    • In this game you don’t have direct control of the ball like you do in other sports games. The ball has it’s own physics, it does not attach to your character. This makes dribbling even more critical as an overzealous charge will bump it outside of your possession. More often than not you’ll see people desperately charging at the ball just to touch it. All that really does though is send it off flying away from you and relinquishing control.
    • Staying with the ball and deflecting other cars from contact is the best means of control you have. Control the space around the ball. Having claim to who touches it and where it’s going will present you with a lot more victories online. So above all aim to control the ball, not aggressively bop it around.

Offensive Play

  • Play as a team
    • You do NOT need to score every goal. If your teammate has a shot or clear advantage, support him. Either hold off the opposing team with body blocks or just give them room to play the ball. Wait for the rebound.
    • Center the ball in front of the net if you’re in the corner. Don’t try and edge it along and in for a goal, that almost never works and is extremely easy to defend against. Instead create an opportunity for your team to have a potential shot.
  • DO NOT STEAL YOUR TEAMMATES PLAY!
    • I know this falls under the first point, but it deserves it’s own. Too often I see my teammates competing with each other or myself. If they have a clear advantage, don’t ruin their moment. Fall back and support them. DO NOT CONTEST THEIR POSSESSION.
  • Know your angles, make strikes/cuts
    • I can’t stress this enough – Do not try for shots that don’t exist. If you can’t charge the ball from your angle directly into the net, don’t take the shot. When there are no other cars between the ball and the net and you have a direct line of sight INTO the net, this is when you charge the ball
  • Guard the ball, carry the ball
    • Rocket League is all about possession. It feels like you’re playing soccer as Octodad due to the indirect control you have over the ball, but it is still your baby. If you can learn to dribble the ball you can carry in goals easily. Don’t get fancy. Just guard the ball with positional play while you gently walk it in.
  • Positional play
    • Being beside a rival car reduces your possession and allows opportunities for them. What this means is you want to use your car to block the opponents from touching the ball on offense, or in the line of a shot on defense. Use your car as an obstacle against the other team’s momentum.
  • Do not treat the rocket jump as a shoot button
    • While it’s tempting – A part of our gamer brain wants to think that in order to shoot the ball we need to press a button. Everything in this game is about contact at the right angles though. There are definitely times when the rocket jump is necessary for an extra oomph, but don’t get caught overcompensating with a power shot when a simple nudge will do. Control wins out over power every time in Rocket League.

Defensive Play

  • Do not clear in front of the net
    • One of the most dangerous things you could do on defense is clearing the ball in front of the net. You run the risk of lining up the perfect shot for the other team. Either clear the ball along the walls or into the corner. Both situations are great for stifling any offensive momentum.
  • Do not charge at the ball towards your net
    • I see this happen a lot more than it should happen. In an attempt to get to the ball before the other team, my teammates will charge the ball sending it barreling towards our net faster than they can keep up with it. Smacking the ball away from the opponents doesn’t help if you’re just going to assist it into the net for them.
  • Play back if it isn’t critical
    • When your team is on the attack, just sit back on your half and watch for any loose balls that might lead to a counterattack. Rocket League will burn you for clustering on the ball, and even if you manage to get your hood on the ball it’s likely not going to deflect the way you want it to. So sit back and watch for long bombs or momentum shifts that your offensive teammates won’t be able to react to.
  • Guard the net before crashing the ball
    • What I mean by this is when cars are clustering in a corner by your net, stand on the line and shut down whatever angle you can. You’ll do more good when you have some room to maneuver then just being another car in the pile.
  • Close shootings paths down
    • Similar to positional play when you’re on the offense, you should be using your physical presence to act as an obstacle on defense. Blocking the channels of shots, centering the ball, or passes is a great way to disrupt an offensive attack. You don’t have to steal the ball, you just need to make it difficult for them to do anything with it.

These are all fine and dandy but do not forget to have fun! While a lot of these ideas are here to help you improve don’t forget the importance of enjoying your matches. A positive attitude, laughter with teammates, and a fun loss can be a much better learning experience than methodically dissecting play.


Here are a collection of videos demonstrating a lot of what I’ve talked about above.

General Knowledge

 

Strategic Thinking

 

Offensive Play

 

Defensive Play

 

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