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When people swoon over toy-car footy sim Rocket League, they like to point to its vertiginous skill ceiling, built on a foundation of relatively simple mechanics. But the skill floor has been rising too, like some ominous vertically-scrolling platformer that threatens to swallow players up at the bottom of the screen. Where last season you may have been firmly in the Platinum league, this season you might struggle to make Silver unless you burn some rubber and practice.
To help you win those 50/50 kick-offs, hold onto laser-thin leads, and avoid fizzing past aerial balls like an out-of-control firework, we spoke with members of pro Rocket League outfit Team Infused, Sebadam and EyeIgnite, about 10 ways in which ordinary RL players can get their game into gear.
1. Seeing Things from the Right (Camera) Perspective
Sebadam: This is a matter of personal preference, but here’s my camera setup, which I’d recommend to new players:
Camera Shake: Off
Camera FOV: 110
Camera Distance: 260
Camera Height: 110
Camera Angle: -3
Camera Stiffness: 0.40
Camera Swivel Speed: 10
Invert Swivel Pitch: Yes
Hold Ball Camera: No
These will allow you to control your car with the greatest precision, which is particularly crucial when aiming to hit a specific part of the ball. The camera distance helps keep sight of your surroundings. The ‘10’ swivel speed, meanwhile, allows me to quickly look around with minimal stick movement, and saves time as I can just snap to wherever I want to look.
2. The Perfect Kick-Off
EyeIgnite: A good rule of thumb with kickoffs would be to hit the ball in the centre with a flip. This limits the possibility of the ball flying towards either one of your corners. Most people approach it like this:
Boost > Flip while boosting simultaneously > Land > Flip just before contact with the ball.
There are more advanced kick-off starts out there, though. One that my team specifically does on most kickoffs is to intentionally lose the kickoff and have the ball roll quickly towards the corner where one of us is getting boost, which gives us instant possession.
3. Not All Cars Are Manufactured Equal
Sebadam: Dominus and Octane are most used cars, for very different reasons. The Dominus provides a long paddle-like shape which allows for easy redirects and powerful shots due to the low surface are at the front corners, which also means you can shoot with power (at the cost of accuracy).
The Octane is a great all-rounder. Its short square hitbox lets you consistently shoot with high accuracy. Power isn’t as easy to gain, but it’s still completely possible if you practice and use air roll effectively, using the corner of the car to hit the ball.
4. Aerial Aerobics
Sebadam: There’s a point in Rocket League where you might decide you’re too slow in aerials and can’t ever beat opponents to the ball, but you’re probably just making the wrong decision! Best thing to do is go for aerials if you know you’re closer to the ball.
But, because I don’t like to ‘waste’ myself (i.e. miss the ball and be out of play for several seconds), I will often fake the aerial by pretending to go for the ball, throwing off the other team. Be aware that, at the higher levels, the other player might be faking an aerial, so it could be worth going for even if you are further away.
5. Safe Set of Tyres (like Safe Pair of Hands… like Goalkeepers)
Sebadam: The best position for a goalie during a cross is always the back post, so if the opponent is pushing from the right side, you’ll be on the left post, and vice versa. If the opponent decides to cross it and you don’t have any team mates, the back post is the perfect position as you’ll have a great angle to either go for the ball or defend it, covering the entire goal.
6. Dribble like Rocket-dinho
Sebadam: Practice your first touch so the ball doesn’t bounce too far ahead of you. Make sure that when the ball lands on your car, it hits the middle-front section of the car so that it stays near you. Also, let the ball drop off your car onto the ground, and cut left and right so that the opponent won’t know when you will next cut the ball and change direction.
EyeIgnite: Feather your boost. If the ball is going ahead of you, you aren’t going fast enough, and if it falls behind you’re going too fast. You have to find a balanced boost pattern to keep it steady but still get speed.
7. The ‘Wall Pinch’
EyeIgnite: My favourite trick shot that can be easily learnt is a defensive wall pinch. When a ball gets sent to your backboard, if you position your car where the ball hits the wall and the tip of your car at the same time, it will send the ball flying towards the opposite end of the field. There’s a bunch of training packs to practice this and it’s very handy for instant clears and counter-pressure.
8. The ‘Pop Into Delayed Shot’
Sebadam: Use one jump to hit the ball into the air, then while boosting towards it, wait half a second to a second, and use your second jump to flip into the ball. People will assume that you’re going for a simple air-dribble, and probably won’t see this move coming, especially from lower-ranked players.
9. Good defending or: Car-enaccio
Sebadam: A good way of containing pressure and continuing the attack is to keep a player in your own half and allow the other two players to continuously attack the ball without needing to rotate back. If the opponent does clear the ball well, the player in your half will be able to send it back up the pitch, and as the other two players are already up there (usually on the wings), you keep up the pressure while containing pressure from the other team.
10. Sync Up Like The Three Rocketeers
Sebadem: Learn rotation with your team, creating a system of who will be hitting the ball next, depending on their position, while the others are collecting boost constantly. Typically, if you’re the person who just attacked the ball, being the ‘1st’ player, you’d want to rotate round to become the ‘3rd’ player, meaning you’re now at the back collecting boosts and defending, while your teammates attack.
EyeIgnite: Agreed. Skills will come with time but the most important things to keep in mind are rotation and positioning. These separate good players from great players.