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Rocket League has finally gone free-to-play, and just in time for its fifth anniversary. If you’re new to Rocket League and looking to jump right into the competitive playlist, here’s our essential RL beginner’s guide to learning the basics and setting you up for future success on the pitch.
Let’s talk about your race. There is a huge list of combat cars to choose from. However, there are only six hitbox classes available in Rocket League. These include Octane, Dominus, Plank, Breakout, Hybrid, and Merc (the newest addition to the game). This means that while these cars look different, a lot of them perform the same in the terrain.
The most competitive hitbox in the game is the Octane. Its average height and length allows it to perform well in most scenarios. In addition, it has the largest number of customization options.
It is not difficult to be competitive in high ranks, such as Grand Champion and Supersonic Legend, using the other battle cars. Even though Octane is the most popular, that doesn’t mean it’s objectively the best. It turns out to be the proven favorite of professionals.
One of the most fundamental skills that will elevate players to the next level in RL is successfully aerials. This is done by using the boost to fly and take off through the air like a rocket. You can use this skill to take flight and hit the ball in the air in order to make a stop or shoot.
Here are the steps to follow to make an antenna:
- To jump
- Roll your car backwards so that your car faces the sky
- Hold your boost button
- Control your car in the air using your steering controls (left analog stick or WASD)
Pluck your boost
Once a player is able to perform aerials, they can extend their airtime and use their boost more effectively by using feathering. This is the term given for pushing the button or sparingly applying a boost to an antenna.
As you can see from the examples above, feathering allows the player to fly all over the field without using it entirely through the midline and without climbing too high.
While it is more fun to get into RL game after game, it is more effective to spend time in the free game and practice packs when you want to improve your abilities.
While nothing can prepare you for real game scenarios, a player has only a limited number of chances to attempt a specific shot or save mid-game. In training, a player may first revise the basics so that in a ranked game you will be more capable and confident.
In free play, a player can strike the ball on the court at will. This is ideal for new players who need to get used to controlling their car and the physics of the game.
There are three training scenarios built by Psyonix themselves. These are fundamental packs focused on Aerials, Defense (Goalie) and Shooting (Striker). You should aim to finish all of this.
The Custom Training Zone is a library of training packs created by Psyonix and the RL community. Players can find “Featured” packs that are regularly browsed or “browse” for packs using practice codes (as shown above). And, a player can even “Promote” and “Create” their own.
Center the ball
There is a solid method of setting goals for teammates as a newbie in the Rocket League. This is using the back panel (the wall around the goal) and connecting corners to drop the ball over your opponent’s goal.
In the example below, by hitting the ball in the corner or directly on the back panel next to the goal, players can drop the ball and bounce in front of their opponent’s goal. This is a great opportunity for teammates to then hit by jumping or doing an aerial jump.
Be a team player
Rocket League is primarily a team game. When people play as a team, they should adopt the strategy of rotations. This means that the team is constantly moving around each other, taking turns playing each position.
No Rocket League player should see themselves as a dedicated striker, midfielder or defender like in other sports. To be a good player, a player must be capable of all three roles.
A successful player will consider playing the following way:
- Try to center the ball using methods such as our centering example
- After centering the ball, step back to allow the next teammate to shoot
- Take a defensive stance while the teammate shoots
We have a more detailed 3v3 rotation guide available for those who want to learn how to be the best teammate possible.
Boost is the only resource in RL. You have to refuel without putting yourself in a bad position. A common issue in RL is with players choosing to collect the full 100 boost pads from the sides and corners of the pitch without considering the smaller 12 boost pads that are scattered around the pitch.
To keep a boost without interrupting a course, players should seek to move forward on the pitch using the small pads as control points as they pass them. This is called “boost pathing”.
Use this guide to learn common routes around the field to always have a good boost supply.
Before even entering the field and learning a few moves, there are a lot of settings that can be configured in Rocket League. Some of them make it easier to play in a competitive environment.
Turn off camera shake. It’s a setting that adds more of a feeling of action to games. When the players touch the ball, the camera shakes to suggest that there has been a hard impact. This is unnecessary and should be turned off to help players stay focused on the game.
Rocket League’s default camera settings are set to make the game more action-packed. However, these camera settings make it much more difficult to keep track of the environment: teammates, opponents, ball, and boost pads.
It is also advisable to change the camera’s default settings to what is now considered the norm by professionals. These are the settings of Alexander “Kaydop” Courant, three-time RLCS world champion and five-time European regional champion.
If you want to learn more about the details of the camera settings, we have a step-by-step guide to creating your own Rocket League camera settings.
Rocket League can be played competitively on any of the major platform controllers. DualShock 4, Xbox controller, Switch Pro controller, keyboard and mouse.
When using a controller for your input, it is advisable to activate only one of the main controls. This can be either a boost or an air-roll / powerslide on one of the available shoulder buttons. The most common is to move the air-roll / powerslide to L1.
This change redistributes some of the responsibility from a player’s right hand to the left, and at the same time allows for jumping, boosting and rolling through the air.
If you’re interested in learning more about how pros set up their controllers, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to creating your own Rocket League controller settings.
It is important to be able to communicate in team sports games. However, sometimes it is necessary to remove specific speech in some online experiences. You can set your level of text communication only for in-game chat related to the game.
- Allow everything will allow players to see all text entered in the lobby
- Team only restrict communications to only show text chat and team quick chats
- Quick chat only restricts communications to only in-game quick chat commands
- Team Quick Chat restrict communications to only see a player’s team quick chat
- Deactivated removes all communications in the game
At a minimum, players should use Team Quick Chat only. This is how their team can maintain a minimum level of communication during kickoffs. For more on perfecting a kickoff, read the Rocket League Launch Guide.
When a player reaches Gold rank, they will feel somewhat accomplished after reaching the most populous rank in the game. However, there is an immediate steep slope. Less than half of all ranked players achieve and stay at Platinum level on a regular basis.
If a player is looking to achieve Platinum rank, they can check out our Rocket League ranked guides that teach how to play Grand Champion rank and more with demos and practice packs.