Rocket League is a daunting game. Let it be known that if you want to ‘git gud’ at this game, then fasten your seatbelts because it will be a long journey. It’s a great game for some fun with your friends, but what got me hooked is the grind to improve my knowledge of, and skill at the game. With Rocket League set to go free to play this year, here are my top beginner tips for Rocket League.
Change your camera settings
This part is one that many people will neglect from the start, but remember, the more of the field you can see, the better you will be. You can chop and change things to suit your preference but one thing you must do is turn off camera shake! You can google any Rocket League pro and you will find their settings, but here are my camera settings. Finally, and this is really important for the later half of your Rocket League journey: assign air roll right to R1 or RB and air roll left to L1 or LB. This won’t be much use until you learn how to fly, but once that day comes you will be glad you changed the controls.
Understanding basic movement
Rocket League features some of the most satisfying movement mechanics in any driving game. Throughout your first few dozen games, you’ll start mastering jumping, turning, boosting, and dodging. Although these things can feel hard to control at first, with time and practice you’ll find yourself zipping around the field, dribbling the ball, and pulling off insane wall shots and ridiculous saves without even breaking a sweat.
Dodging can be accomplished by jumping in the air and then jumping again while pushing in any direction. You can dodge forward, backward, diagonally, and sideways. There are many uses for the various dodges. You can use the dodge to build speed and momentum by dodging in the same direction multiple times. Dodging can be used to shoot the ball and to pull off defensive saves. When combined with the other movement elements in the game, dodging provides nuanced and calculated ways to control your car.
If you jump twice without pushing your movement analog stick in any direction, you’ll perform a double jump instead of a dodge. These are useful in the early game for hitting the ball while it’s off the ground or for defending your goal. As you start to master Rocket League’s mechanics, double jumps become a launchpad for big aerial plays. While in the air, you can hold your air roll key to control your car’s orientation. When you do eventually learn how to aerial, this control in the air will help you master aerial shots.
Learning how to use your power slide early on is also a great idea. Power slides can help you turn around more quickly or make slight adjustments to your position when trying to the hit the ball. To use the power slide, simple hold the power slide input while turning.
Learning to manage boost
Boost management is an essential skill for new players to master.
Boost pads exist throughout the map, with large full boost pads available in each corner and the midfield mark on both sides of the field, and smaller boost pads available throughout the center of the field. For many new players, it’s easy to overemphasize boost and use it as a crutch.
New players can often be found burning through all of their boost in a single dash down the field. A more advanced player will know when they need to use their boost and when they can save it. Overreliance on the boost mechanic is a classic beginner mistake.
Ideally, you want to learn how to manage your boost so you have some idea when you need it. The only time you need to full boost is when you’re accelerating quickly to make a play on the ball, performing an aerial maneuver, or rushing back to your goal to protect it. Most situations only call for a small amount of boost to be used to get you up to speed. You can also feather your boost by rapidly tapping the boost button instead of holding it down. This can be a much more efficient way to get up to speed without burning through copious amounts of boost.
As a rule of thumb, don’t use boost unless you need to. Learn to rely on your other movement features like jumping and dodging to build momentum and save your boost. Remember to prioritize defending your net over getting boost. Even high-level players often make the mistake of getting a boost pad, only to leave their net open for the goal. Don’t make this mistake.
Learning how to hit the ball
In your first few dozen games, the hardest part of Rocket League will be actually hitting the ball. Don’t get discouraged, you’ll improve quickly. Once you start to get the hang of movement and momentum to the point where you can consistently hit the ball, there are a number of techniques to start thinking about when it comes to ball control.
One of the most simple distinctions when it comes to striking is whether you hit the ball while your car is in the air or on the ground. If you run into the ball while your wheels are all on the ground, the ball will pop up into the air due to the shape of your car’s hitbox. If you want the ball to stay on the ground during a shot on goal, for example, you want to jump into the air right before hitting the ball or dodging into the ball. By striking the ball in its middle or top portion, you’ll propel the ball forward but not upward. This minor maneuver is often the difference between hitting the ball in the goal or hitting it over the goal.
Obviously there are a lot more striking techniques to learn, but a lot of learning how to handle the ball is trial and error. If you want to quickly improve your ball handling skills, the best advice is to go into a free play practice match with just you and a ball. Hit the ball around for a while and get used to the physics. If you want to really step up your control, there are a ton of great training maps built into the game that will test your striking, aerial abilities, and goaltending abilities. Each training mode has different levels ranging from novice to advanced.
Play the ball, not the player
Bumping into the opponent can occasionally be quite effective. It takes them off their line and interrupts the timing of their shots. If you can’t make a play on the ball, preventing someone else from doing so is the next best option.
However, there are still two more opponents waiting to punish you in the event that you do take out another player. That’s why you should never go after a player to the exclusion of the ball. Clearances and centers are more important than demolitions, so challenge for the ball at every opportunity.
Trust your teammates
Rocket League is a team game, so you won’t do all that well if you try to handle everything yourself. Trust your teammates. Learn to recognize basic roles like offense, defense, and support. Those roles can change rapidly during a match, but if you adjust your play based on the conditions on the field, you’ll ensure that your team is able to respond to any given situation.
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