In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Sam feels an overwhelming drive to win in Rocket League.
“I probably take Rocket League a bit too seriously,” I said to a friend after an hour-long 4v4 session on Sunday night. “Lol. A bit,” he messaged me back. I’ll be honest, while I’ve dabbled with competitive games over the years, I’ve generally gravitated more towards single-player games. I would say that’s partly due to the fact I was an only child for much of my young life, but that would be a colossal lie: it’s because I believe that most people are terrible. And I’m one of them. Rocket League has infected me unlike any multiplayer game I’ve ever played, and I’m behaving like it’s the first time this has ever happened to me—because it pretty much is.
I asked my friend if I take Rocket League too seriously because I realised that during the entire time we played 4v4, I failed to join in on the ‘banter’ going on between the other players. They were all having a laugh and talking about other stuff, but I was totally silent. I was concentrating on landing shots and perfect clearances, and treating this like failure was the difference between that night being a good or a bad one. Because it was.
I’m behaving like one of those absolute wanks who discovers Call of Duty at 16 and talks complete rubbish down a headset. I’m not abusive, or anything, I’m just all the things that are annoying about people online, without deliberately meaning to do it. I boast about my cracking goals, commentate on my stronger plays in third-person with annoying nonsense like ‘Roberts with the pass!’ and I have a mini tantrum if we concede an easy goal—I can’t help but point out that I’ve made MVP four matches in a row, even as the other players sigh down their headsets.
I even forced my friend to stop playing doubles in ranked because I decided he wasn’t taking it seriously enough. “Dave, stop f*cking about right now, this is serious!” I forced him to quit out and put us in unranked. What’s all that about? That’s not how humans are meant to behave. But I like being a dick in Rocket League. At some point on the semi-pro ladder I accepted that was the way I’d play the game. Once I yelled ‘NOT MY NIGHT’ after conceding four goals, quitting a 3v3 ranked match with two minutes to go and just lying on my bed after and looking at the ceiling for five minutes. I left two players behind to fend for themselves This isn’t a normal reaction to a game for me. Or indeed, a normal reaction generally—you can’t behave like that in real life. In Rocket League I’ve decided it’s okay.
The only thing is, I’m not sure I’m making the game more fun for anyone else except me. Maybe even including me. But I can’t help it. You’ve no doubt met players like me—they’re all communicating by spamming the swear button in text chat, or hitting ‘NICE SHOT!’ nine times when you score an unlucky own goal. You can’t hear them in voice chat because you’ve already muted them. And they’re all 16 or younger. I’m 27.
Essentially this is just the rush of being into a competitive game you really like, but it’s made me realise why this doesn’t happen that often for me—I don’t let it happen, because I know what I’m like. I tend not to let games such as Hearthstone or Battlefield get their tendrils into me because I know this part of me exists and is waiting to come out—I can be a sour man if I lose, and it’s exactly why I limit the games I get emotionally invested in to single-player games where I can more easily control what’s going on. Our Dota 2 match against Rock, Paper, Shotgun still annoys me months later. I can’t quit Rocket League right now, though, as it’s simply too good, so for the time being this will just have to be the new normal. I am a Rocket League dick.
Rocket League is the hit of the moment, and part of me is paranoid that as soon as summer ends in two weeks, there’ll be a big new thing that everyone goes off to play and we’ll remember Rocket League as a fad. For my console-playing friends (and some of the PCG staff), Destiny’s expansion The Taken King threatens to end the Rocket League phenomenon. It almost certainly can’t survive the arrival of XCOM 2, Star Wars Battlefront and Fallout 4, and its success can perhaps be partly attributed to a quiet summer for big releases. I want it to go on forever, though. It needs to. I can’t see any way I’ll ever stop.
Are you a dick in Rocket League? Let me know in the comments below and let’s talk it through.