Technique: a simple guide for Rocket League

How to Play: Rocket League

Rocket league fan art fbWant to turn your Rocket League matches from chaotic scrambles to coordinated assaults on your rival? Look no further than our essential strategy guide

When you take to the Rocket League pitch for the first time, things can feel rather chaotic…

Being a newcomer to the game is exciting, delightful and even rather silly, as balls ricochet, vehicles tumble and goals are scored through luck as much as skill. It's a fantastically fun state of affairs, and that brilliant, hectic, casual play is likely the reason Rocket League engages so many first-timers.

But if you want to win games consistently, play competitively and move beyond the game's own version of 'button mashing', you'll need to be a little more considerate not just in how you play…

But in how you think about Rocket League.

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To start you off on the right track we've gathered some of the most useful, foundational and important gameplay approaches and strategies there are.

Read through our Rocket League tips and you’ll be a master in no time:

Skill before strategy

There are many strategies to deploy in Rocket League, from the conventional to the eccentric. Most are valid, but none will guarantee you wins without you mastering the core skills.

If you're yet to make decent shots on goal from an aerial, and double jumps aren't as important to you as boost pads, don't overwhelm yourself with high-level, demanding strategies at this stage. You'd be surprised how far you can get with the basics.

Keep playing, keep toiling, keep going.

Building up basic ball skills and developing an instinctive feel for the game's interactions are much more important than any wide strategies, and the only way to do that is…

To put in the hours.

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Play aggressive

While this isn't a universal rule, it is a perfect mantra to have repeating in your mind as you move from newcomer to mid-tier contender. While you'll need to be ready to take a precise strike at goal in a moment's notice, what really gets you wins is general pressure on your rival.

Keep the ball in their half, and maintain possession. That latter tip may sound obvious, but even the professionals can make the fatal mistake of putting showy strikes before possession. It might be fun to fire and forget with a barrage of ambitious shots on goal, but wearing your opponent down – as well as their boost gauge – with solid possession and pressure will ultimately open more doors to scoring goals.

They might not all be the most flashy strikes, but a great deal more will sink into the back of the net.

Centering the ball can be as vital as scoring

If you find yourself at the head of the pack moving the ball towards goal, you need not take huge risks or make wild shots.

If there isn't a way to put the ball in the net, remember that positioning it well in the center of the playfield – in your opponent's half, of course – can often be the best route to goal, even if you're not the one to score it. Leaving the ball well positioned for a teammate to sweep in and strike might increase the chances of success a great deal.

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Rotation is the golden rule

'Rotation' is perhaps the most common, productive Rocket League gameplay grand strategy. It allows you to keep pressure, keep possession and minimize risks. It could be described less snappily as a game of taking turns.

With rotation, one player leads the charge on goal; they are the 'striker' while they hold their frontal position. The second lays a little further back, ready to follow up on any deflected shots, or simply to step in if the first player is pushed back to a defensive state; the 'midfielder', if you like. In a 3v3 game the third player can hang right back and provide the luxury of defense; but they should always be poised to fill the second player's position and role if that second payer assumes the role of the first.

And so goes the rotation.

After a failed strike the first player loops back to become the defender. The midfielder moves forward to become the striker, and the defender assumes the previous midfielder's role. And on it goes… in rotation.

The team that stays apart wins together

Whatever strategy you might be implementing, your team members should almost never be too close to one another. There is very, very rarely an advantage to teammates crowding up together. Keeping distance allows you to assert pressure and presence, and offers much more capacity to quickly react and take control when the ball goes wild and is in the control of neither team. This is one of the most crucial Rocket League tips out there.

Match strategy with mode

If you're playing 1v1 mode, things stay relatively simple in terms of strategy. Rotation will have limited use here – because you can't be in more than one place at one time.

However…

You can still think of your single vehicle following the flow of the rotation strategy, moving yourself straight to defense after most strikes on goal.

Ultimately, though, 1v1 is about understanding the aggression of your own play-style, both in the faceoffs, and in general play once the ball is moving. An aggressive player will see how 1v1 rewards heavy boost use; at the expense of being able to respond so quickly to losing possession of the ball.

However, it's better to commit to your aggressive play-style than try and serve both a defensive and an offensive role. But if playing defensively comes naturally to you, and you've the confidence to stay off the ball and wait for your moment to pounce, go with it. You might have much less possession and give away a few easy goals – but committing to defensive play gives you the time you need to be careful, and hammer in goals when your rival least expects them.

Again… hopping back and forth between the offensive and the defensive here won't let you commit enough to enjoy the benefits of the defensive approach, so stick with one or the other. Of course, some players prove convention wrong with unusual strategies; but that kind of approach is best reserved for the experienced.

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At a fundamental level, the standard 3v3 and alternative 2v2 'doubles' modes of Rocket League might be similar, but if you want to up your win rate, you'll need to play differently in each. In 2v2 mode, you have far less capacity to cover offense and defense simultaneously, and while rotation stands as a worthy approach, it's worth being much more communicative with your teammate when implementing the strategy.

It's easy to become stuck in a defensive scramble in 2v2, and breaking out of that is tough. Better to pre-empt landing on your back foot as a team by keeping communication clear and constant, and while giving your partner the space and time they need. With 2v2 sometimes you'll just have to hold back, keep clear and remember the distance rule. Your time on the ball by the mouth of the goal will come, and when it does you should be left alone, too.

Up your skills in 1v1

If you're looking to work on many of the strategies above, or just build up your basic Rocket League skills, go with 1v1 mode. It has a simplicity of gameplay flow that makes it easier to get to grips with the fundamentals and more complex techniques; but there's equally an intensity and purity of action that will rapidly accelerate your abilities.

Don't be mistaken, though.

1v1 certainly isn't an 'easy mode', and it's the place you'll see some of the most skilled players do battle in what can be among Rocket League's most exciting clashes.

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There's more to be mastered in Rocket League, of course. But to progress to the truly advanced strategies – most of which will evolve uniquely from the dynamic of your team and hours of practice – you'll need to understand all of the above.

So… what are you waiting for?

Let the core strategies take shape as concepts in your mind, and get out there and put some hours in practicing and playing. You can already start dueling now and show us what you got and picked up today!