Since its release in 2015, developer Psyonix’s Rocket League has become a standout game in this past console generation. Furthermore, 2021 marks the game’s fifth year as an official eSport. Have you considered going pro but don’t know where to start?
To get better at Rocket League, you need to break down gameplay one piece at a time. Review car controls to master the reflexes and shorthand terms you need to learn advanced techniques. From there, you can start practicing actions like dribbling and aerials. Then, test your skills in a 1v1 game!
Read on to learn how to get better at Rocket League.
Review Car Control
You can’t walk before you learn to crawl. Likewise, in Rocket League, you can’t score before you know how to drive. Even if you have played through the tutorial a hundred times, it is never a bad idea to review car controls and use them to your advantage in the game. So, let’s go back to driving school!
Before we get started, here is a table that you can reference back to for default button mapping:
Whether they be strategy games like Starcraft, FPSs like Overwatch, or fighting games like Street Fighter, competitive video games require a mastery of basic controls. Rocket League is no different. Never take basic car controls for granted because they are the building blocks of the whole game! Here’s a review of basic moves.
- Accelerate: Pressing and holding the acceleration button will move your car forward, just like putting your foot on the gas pedal of a real car. Releasing the acceleration will slow your vehicle down into a neutral position.
- Reverse: Pressing and holding the reverse button switches gears and moves your car backward. Additionally, releasing the acceleration and tapping on the reverse button will cause your vehicle to break swiftly.
- Steering: Steering is pretty straightforward. Unless you are using a keyboard, you steer with the left thumbstick of your controller.
- Camera control: Like most 3D games, the right thumbstick (excluding keyboard controls) controls your view. However, the picture will only change while you are maneuvering the thumbstick. There is no default PC control for this function, but the user can set it.
- Jump: Jumping propels your car into the air, which is useful for blocking and hitting air-bound balls.
- Rocket Boost: This is a turbo function that significantly boosts your vehicle’s speed. When on the field, you will notice glowing orange pads on the ground. These are called boost pads. Driving over boost pads fills your boost meter. Once your boost meter is full, pressing and holding the boost button will make your vehicle blast off! This move will help you keep up with fast opponents.
- Powerslide: Powerslides are your drift in the Rocket League world. Press and hold the powerslide button while driving to make sharp U-turns. Whenever the ball changes direction, this move will be vital.
- Ball Cam: Keeping up with the ball can be a lot of work. Luckily, pressing the ball cam button will focus your screen and steering on the ball. This function can toggle on and off at your desire.
Once you have gotten the hang of basic moves, you are ready to move on to advanced maneuvers. The three advanced moves below build upon the fundamental moves we just reviewed. Head over to the tutorial or free play and give these moves a spin!
- Dodge: Double tapping the jump button while steering the vehicle results in a dodge. Dodges flip your car in the desired direction, which is excellent for striking balls with more power or quickly defending the goal. Dodging to the left or right can make effective side hits.
- Double Jump: Tapping the jump button twice produces a double jump for even more height.
- Rocket Flight: Did you know your Rocket League car can also fly!? Press and hold the boost button after jumping to activate rocket flight. This skill is steerable using the same controls that you would for standard steering. You may find it helpful to pitch your vehicle upwards before rocket flight to gain some height. Otherwise, you may fly yourself into the ground.
Once you master basic and advanced move-sets, it is time to move on to technique. If you are familiar with sports like basketball or soccer (AKA football for those outside of the US), then you probably have heard the term ‘dribbling’ before. Like the sports the game is modeled after, Rocket League has its style of dribbling.
Dribbling is essential in Rocket League because it gives you control of the ball. With more control comes fewer opportunities for opponents to intercept, more openings to pass the ball to teammates, and a smoother transition into flicks.
There are two ways to dribble the ball in Rocket League. The easier option is to dribble on the ground. This dribble is easier to perform but easier to read and defend against as well. However, you can improve your ground dribble by adding in some faking to throw opponents off.
Your other option is to dribble the ball on the top of your vehicle. This dribble is harder to perform but gives a higher reward. Topside dribbles provide more play options, an easier transition into a flick, and are harder to defend.
To start a topside dribble, gently touch the ball so it rises ever so slightly in the air and then position yourself under it. Use the white ball guide arrow to inform how to place your vehicle so you do not lose control of the ball.
Aerials are an expert technique, and you should take your time before attempting them. It will likely take hundreds of hours of practice before you feel comfortable with this function. Furthermore, even making contact with the ball, in the beginning, is a significant first step. However, once you master this skill, you will be ready to play against high-ranking players.
Here is how to perform a boost: jump, then boost in the ball’s direction while you are in midair. You can use a second jump to dodge into the ball and add extra oomph to your contact hit. Most aerial maneuvers only require 20 to 30 boost to perform. However, it is unwise to go for an aerial unless you know you have the boost to back it up. Otherwise, you are handing the ball to your competition.
As you become more comfortable with aerials, you can try performing aerials with the power glide button. This button’s quick steering can make for some great flicks that will send the ball exactly where you want it to go!
Test Your Skills in a 1v1 Game
Now that we have addressed controls and techniques let’s talk strategy. A great way to test your skills is in a one-on-one battle where there are no extra opponent players to keep track of and no teammates to cover your flaws. Here are a few tips for a 1v1 strategy:
- The Face-Off: Like any game of Rocket League, you will start with the face-off. You can take two approaches: Either you can be aggressive and seek the first contact with the ball, or you can play defensive and see what your opponent does with it. However, we recommend beginner players take an aggressive approach. A defensive strategy is only effective if you have the aerial skills to defend your goal post.
- Use Your Boosts: In a one-on-one game, speed is everything. Not only should you use your boosts whenever you can, but you should also race to the boost pads before your opponent has a chance to use them. This technique, called ‘boost starving,’ will significantly slow down your opponent and give you more access to the ball.
- Playing Corners: A common Rocket League strategy is rebounding the ball off of a corner hit. However, with no teammates to rebound for you, playing to the corner walls is pointless. We recommend retreating to the midfield when the ball hits the corner and seeing what the opponent does with it. Chances are they will fumble, allowing you to score.
- When to Chase the Ball: Lastly, reading the ball is critical. Sometimes, you will be close enough to the ball to chase it effectively. Other times, you will find yourself in a losing race that distracts you from defending the goal post. That is why choosing when to take offense or defense is a game-defining skill.
In short, getting better at Rocket League requires a strong familiarity with the game’s mechanics. Rushing into advanced techniques will make gameplay less enjoyable and more confusing.
However, suppose you dedicate time and patience to mastering the basic controls. In that case, you will have a more uncomplicated time learning complex techniques later on. Then you can use 1v1 matches to record where your strengths are and what needs more work.