Rocket League has finally gone free-to-play in time for its fifth anniversary. If you’re new to Rocket League and are looking to dive into the competitive playlist right away, this is our essential RL beginner’s guide to learning the basics and setting yourself up for future success on the field.
Let’s talk about your ride. There is a huge roster of battle cars to select from; however, there are only six hitbox classes available in Rocket League. These are Octane, Dominus, Plank, Breakout, Hybrid, and Merc (the newest addition to the game). This means that although these cars look different, many of them perform the same on the pitch.
The most competitively used hitbox in the game is the Octane. Its average height and length allows it to perform well in most scenarios. Additionally, it has the most customization options available to it.
It is not difficult to be competitive in high-ranks, such as Grand Champion and Supersonic Legend, using the other battle cars. Just because the Octane is the most popular does not mean it’s objectively the best; it just happens to be the tried and tested favorite of the professionals.
One of the most fundamental skills which will elevate you to the next level of play in RL is pulling off aerials. This is using your boost to fly and take off into the air like a rocket. You can use this skill to take flight and hit the ball in mid-air to make a save or take a shot.
Here are the steps on how to perform an aerial:
- Jump up.
- Roll your car backward so your car faces the sky.
- Hold down your boost button.
- Control your car mid-air using your steering controls (left analog stick or WASD).
Feathering Your Boost
Once you’re capable of aerials, you can extend your air-time and use your boost more efficiently by using feathering. This is the term given to tapping at the button or sparingly applying boost to your aerial.
As you can see from the examples above, feathering allows the player to aerial across the entire pitch without using it all up by the half-way line and without soaring too high.
While it is more fun to throw yourself into RL game after game, it’s more effective to spend time in Free Play and training packs when you want to improve your abilities.
While nothing can prepare you for real-game scenarios, you only get so many chances to attempt a specific shot or save mid-game. In training, you can brush-up on the essentials first so that in a ranked game, you’re more capable and confident.
In Free Play, you can hit the ball around the field until your heart is content. This is great 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 focusing on aerials (Aerial), defending (Goalie), and shooting (Striker). You should aim to complete all of these.
The Custom training zone is a library of training packs created by Psyonix and the RL community. You can find Featured packs that are cycled regularly, “Browse” for packs using training codes (like shown above), and you can even “Favorite” and “Create” your own.
Centering the ball
There is one strong method of setting up goals for your teammates as a beginner in Rocket League. This is by using the backboard (the wall around the goal) and the connecting corners to get the ball to drop above your opponent’s goal.
In the example below, by striking the ball into the corner or directly at the backboard beside the goal, you can get the ball to fall and bounce right in the face of your opponent’s goal. This is a great opportunity for your teammates to then strike by jumping or doing an aerial.
Be A Team Player
Rocket League is mostly a team-based game. When you’re playing in a team, you should adopt the strategy of rotations. This means keeping the team moving around each other in constant motion, taking turns to play each position.
No Rocket League player should consider themselves a dedicated striker, midfielder, or defender like in other sports. To be a good player, you need to be capable of all 3 roles.
A player who’s rotating well will consider playing in the following way:
- Attempt to center the ball using methods such as our centering example.
- After centering the ball, retreat to allow the next team-mate to shoot.
- Take a defensive position while the team-mate is shooting.
We have a more in-depth 3v3 Rotation Guide available for those who want to learn how to be the best possible teammate they can be.
Boost is the only resource in RL. You must stay topped up without putting yourself in a bad position. A common problem in RL is players who will choose to collect the full 100 boost pads in the sides and corners of the pitch without considering the smaller 12-boost pads that are scattered around the pitch.
To keep your boost topped up without interrupting your course, you should look to advance around the field using the small pads as checkpoints while you’re passing them. This is referred to as boost pathing.
Use this guide to learn the common routes around the pitch to always have a good supply of boost.
Before we even get onto the pitch and learn some moves, there are many settings that can be configured in Rocket League, and some of them do make it easier to play in a competitive environment.
Turn off camera-shake. This is a setting that adds more of an action-packed feeling into your games. When you make a touch on the ball, the camera will shake to suggest there was a hard impact. This is unnecessary and should be disabled to help you stay focused on the game.
The default camera settings of Rocket League are tuned to make the game more action-packed. However, these camera settings make it much more difficult to keep track of your surrounding – your teammates, your opponents, the ball, and boost pads.
We also advise changing the default camera settings to what is considered the standard by professionals now. These are the settings of Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant, a three-time RLCS World Champion and five-time European Regional Champion.
If you would like to read more about the details behind camera settings, we have an in-depth 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 & mouse.
While you’re using a controller for your input, it’s advised to switch up just one of the main controls. This can be either boost or air-roll/powerslide to one of the available shoulder buttons. The most common is moving air-roll/powerslide to L1.
This change re-distributes some of the responsibility of your right hand to the left, and makes jumping, boosting, and air-rolling all at the same time possible.
If you would like to read more about how professionals configure their controllers, we have an in-depth guide to create your own Rocket League Controller Settings.
It’s important to be able to communicate in team-based sports games. However, there is sometimes a need to suppress specific speech in some online experiences. You can set your level of text-based communication to only be in-game chat related to the game.
- Allow All will let you see all text entered in the lobby.
- Team Only restricts communications to only show your team’s text chat and quick-chats.
- Quick Chat Only restricts communications to only the in-game quick chat commands.
- Team Quick Chat Only restricts communications to only see quick-chat from your team.
- Disabled removes all in-game communication.
We advise you to at least use Team Quick Chat only. This is so your team can maintain a bare-minimum level of communication on kick-offs. To learn more about perfecting your kick-off, read our Rocket League Kick-Off Guide.
When you reach the Gold rank, you will feel somewhat accomplished having made it to the most populated rank in the game. However, there’s an immediate steep slope. Less than half of all ranked players ever make it to Platinum and stay there consistently.
If you’re looking to rank-up to Platinum, check out our Rocket League ranked guides that teach you how to play up to Grand Champion and higher with demonstrations and training packs.