Playing a single-player season in rookie mode is as useful a practice ground as the training mode itself. Without real-life competitors ruthlessly charging to the center of the field for the drop ball, you can practice making spectacular goals from midfield. The drawback is that imperfect A.I. applies to both teams, meaning that your computer-controlled squadmates will average at least one incompetent move per match, whether it’s taking the ball to the far side of your end of the field or blocking your path to the ball.
Rocket League’s replay value lies in the draw of constant participation, not in a progressive system of unlockable advanced abilities or shoehorned novelty modes. All the arenas are uniform and consistent in shape, without any bells and whistles like the terraces in its predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. The only variables are the team sizes, A.I. difficulty, and season lengths. This lack of flexibility adds legitimacy to the sport, mirroring the steadfast traditions within many professional sports, some of which are over a hundred years old.
This thoughtfulness extends to the studio’s crafting of a convincing world where Rocket League is the number one sport. You see it in the multi-tier, sold-out arenas and you hear it from the indistinct chants of allegiance from the fans. The crowd goes ‘Oooohhhh!’ or ‘Aaaaahh!’, whether it’s a goal or a key ball hit at midfield. These sprinkles of realism aren’t strictly necessary but are greatly appreciated; for instance, the pitch itself features blades of grass that all move independently. These manicured fields are best admired during the pre-match camera shots, but you can’t be faulted for staring at them in the middle of a game. They are complemented by the myriad customization parts, from wildly swinging antenna flags to neon-blue engine exhaust trails.