Rocket League is the hidden gem of current gen consoles. It is the game that everyone must own, regardless of what type of gamer they are. Its success in the eSports front has only helped establish itself as a fair, competitive game that requires insane amounts of skill if you want to become the best. At the same time, if you’re a completely novice gamer who just wants to have fun, there are very few games out there that deliver a rivalled experience. Rocket League is the perfect example of a game that is designed for every single gamer. Despite its success on PS4 and XBO, it is clear that a console like Nintendo Switch is made for games like Rocket League. They are a match made in heaven, and as I sat on the London Underground yesterday having the time of my life, I was conscious of the fact that the people around who were judging me for playing a game on public transport, were the same people who couldn’t help but take their eyes off the game.
Bizarrely, porting Rocket League to Switch was no easy task. You’d think that a game as simple as Rocket League would be easily movable to Nintendo’s latest platform, but the developers understandably found it difficult, primarily because Rocket League wasn’t designed for a handheld console. In fact, the game runs on the Unreal Engine, which wasn’t supported on Switch. The game also ran perfectly in 60fps, something that the Switch has limitations with especially in handheld mode. The only way Rocket League was going to work on Switch was if the game felt and played exactly the same as it did on PS4 and XBO. Thankfully, I can confirm that it plays just as well, if not somewhat better. Despite the fact that Panic Button was responsible for the Switch port, they clearly had Psyonix at hand to assist them along the way. The developer is well accustomed to porting games on Switch, and the Rocket League is perhaps the best of them all.
The developers have managed to provide a 60fps experience, however at the expense of a lower resolution. Due to this, the visuals are not on par with what you might be accustomed to on your PS4 or XBO, however to the average gamer, this will never be a problem. When you play in split-screen mode, the resolution takes quite a dip, especially when there are explosions. What’s incredible is that the developer has managed to integrate the complete online experience, including the ability to take part in 4v4 matches. The more action that happens on the screen, the lower the visuals will get. There is also a difference in resolution quality when playing the game docked vs. handheld mode. However, this is not an issue. You will at most, play the game in 2-player split-screen whilst in handheld mode. It is very unlikely (and almost impossible) to play the game with four players offline if you haven’t got the console connected to your TV.
The true appeal of Rocket League on Switch is being able to play it in handheld mode. I have been waiting for a game like this to be available on handheld, as it’s the first major step in realising the Nintendo Switch’s potential as an eSports console. The cross platform play works seamlessly, and developers need to do more to release these sorts of games on the Switch so that gamers can compete online without having to be in front of a television set. Rocket League plays wonderfully online on the Switch. As long as you have a good WiFi connection (my home WiFi only has 16Mbps), you’ll be able to compete online against other opponents without knowing what platform they’re on. The nature of this game is such that there is no real advantage to be had on any particular console. Visually, the consoles will have better detail. However, the lack of shadows in Rocket League Switch will not give you or an opponent any real advantage.
The best experience was playing 2v2 online. Whilst 3v3 works well, I found that’s when the resolution and framerate started stuttering a little too much. I am also personally a bigger fan of 2v2, and that ran very smoothly. From an eSports perspective, I fear that the lower resolutions and occasional framerate stutters will impact its potential. Gamers will go online and play ranked matches, however I cannot see an eSports event taking off that focuses primarily on Rocket League on Switch. However, I don’t see that as a major issue. Rocket League on Switch is a huge win for Nintendo and Psyonix. As I mentioned earlier, every single gamer should have the luxury of experiencing Rocket League, and the greatest luxury is rewarded to the owners of Switch consoles; the ability to play it whenever and wherever they are.
To put things into perspective, I now own Rocket League for every console, but I am already playing it more on my Switch simply due to the convenience of being able to enjoy it on-the-go. Frustratingly, I couldn’t find any way to sync my accounts altogether. The real dream would be to be able to play on one Rocket League account across all of my platforms, so that I can maintain and improve my level rather than managing separate ones. I am still hopeful that Psyonix will be able to build the infrastructure that allows this, but until then, I am stuck having to level up from the beginning.
With all of this in mind, I have fallen in love with my Nintendo Switch all over again. Once the Mario Kart and Zelda hype died down, so did my enthusiasm for the console. Yes, there are some fantastic games for the console, but they mainly provide great single player experiences. As an online gamer, Rocket League is exactly what I was waiting for, and the developers have not disappointed. They have had to make sacrifices, but they have made the right sacrifices. The end result is the best possible port of Rocket League that the Nintendo Switch can cope with, and as things stand currently with the Switch’s portfolio, Rocket League is the most enjoyable multiplayer game that the console has to offer.