I have an abusive relationship with Rocket League, to the extent that I've been banned from playing it in the office. Samuel refuses to talk about it at all. He wants me to get out of a bad place, but something keeps calling me back. I log back in, go on a hot streak, cross the line into the next division, then Rocket League sees its opportunity: "Back to unranked!" it yells. "No sense of personal achievement for you!"
This soul-destroying but inescapable cycle makes me extra grateful for the fluff that accompanies Rocket League's ranked playlists. The mutators are a laugh with mates, and the Snow Day hockey map was a surprising change of pace from ball-chasing. Alongside changes to matchmaking in this month's update, Rocket League will be enshrining the experimental spirit in a new Rocket Labs mode.
Rocket Labs is a test range for wacky new maps that would cause a stir if dropped into competitive matchmaking. The first three maps in the playlist are Utopia Retro, a circular map from Rocket League progenitor Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars; Underpass, with varying sloped sides for crazy aerial play; and Double Goal, a keeper's nightmare.
They're works-in-progress, and player feedback will help Psyonix decide which get finished and become a permanent fixture. One curious development, given its slightly non-standard shape, is the addition of the Wasteland map to competitive playlists—could we be looking at a future for Rocket League in which players must learn or specialise in multiple maps? If your PC's performance takes a hit on Wasteland (maybe due to those mysterious unused assets outside the arena), you'll be please to hear it'll be optimised.