Rocket League is one of my favorite games: I have clocked up 1,000 hours so far, and I have no intention of giving up! But despite it being one of my favorites, I also regularly get annoyed and frustrated by it. The game just seems too difficult at times.
Why do I win 5 games in a row… and then lose 9 matches straight? And why does an opposition player (who is ranked lower than me) randomly score 5 goals against us? After playing thousands of Rocket League matches, and hitting Diamond III a few times, I wanted to sum up why the game is so hard – then dive into some tips to get better.
Why Rocket League Is Just So Hard!
Rocket League is so difficult because it mirrors real life sport: where highly skilled players compete with each other, to rank up. Plus it’s a fairly unique game, so being good at Fortnite or Call Of Duty won’t help you in Rocket League.
Because Rocket League is an e-sport, you will get really serious players competing. This means that it can be difficult to be a beginner at times. Thankfully, though, Rocket League’s ranking system means that you can slowly-but-surely develop your game: rising through the ranks without too much frustration.
These ranks are:
- Grand Champion
- Supersonic Legend (this was added in 2020).
Within each rank, there are also three divisions – meaning that you start out at bronze I (bronze division 1) and have to get beyond bronze III (division 3) before you will hit silver I.
If you’re ambitious, you might think “I have to get to at least GC rank in the next 3 months” (GC means Grand Champion, by the way). However I would caution against thinking like this for two reasons:
- While it’s easy to learn the basic Rocket League controls, it is hard to master the various techniques, and the best ways to play in a team. It’s very unlikely that you will achieve the highest ranks in a matter of months. I would aim to rank up every few weeks or months, but aim for 1-2 years if you really are serious about hitting GC or SL ranks.
- Everyone has a natural skill ceiling, meaning that not every player will hit the highest ranks. If you look at the Rocket League rank distributions, you will see that most players are gold or platinum rank. Less than 10% of all Rocket League players achieve a diamond ranking, and barely 0.5% (5 in 1000) players achieve GC.
It is also easy to become demotivated when playing Rocket League. After all, aerials are a crucial part of the game – but they can be really hard to master. You will also come across people cheating and smurfing, and every time you level up (get to a better rank and division), you will suddenly start playing against harder opponents!
Of course, that’s the entire point of a ranking system: as you level up, you play against other players of a similar rank. So don’t give up hope though: let’s look at ways of improving your game!
Tips to Improve Your Rocket League Game
Before diving in to some specific tips for getting better at Rocket League, here’s a key bit of advice:
The biggest advice I could give a new Rocket League is not to get frustrated and overwhelmed. It can be a difficult game at times, but try and enjoy it: it’s a game, after all! If you feel like you’re burning out or no longer having fun, take a break from the game.
I demonstrate the tips below in this YouTube video, but read on if you prefer text to video:
Practise, Practise… And Rotate!
What’s that quote: “Perfect practice makes progress”? Or “Practise, practise, practise!”. Well, for Rocket League I prefer to say:
Practise, practise… and rotate!Tristan (a Rocket Leaguer who still sucks at rotating!)
While you should naturally practise Rocket League a lot (by doing the tutorials, and playing online matches), you also need to learn what rotating means. And no, this doesn’t mean driving in circles while chasing the ball!
Rotating in Rocket League is where you are constantly monitoring where your other team players are, and adjusting your position accordingly. For example, you wouldn’t want everyone in the team to be attacking – in-case the opposing team get the ball, and suddenly your goal is undefended.
This YouTube video is really useful for understanding proper positioning and rotating techniques:
I would point out that you shouldn’t worry too much about rotating at first. Even though this is the first gameplay tip I mention, it is unlikely that your bronze or silver teammates will properly rotate. Heck, even diamond and some champion players don’t rotate properly!
However it is always worth bearing rotation in mind because as you improve in the game, you will notice some players rotate properly – and when you join in too, your win ratio (the number of games you win, compared to lose) will rise quickly.
The alternative is not good: to ignore proper team play, and constantly ball chase instead…
Do Not Ball Chase
Ball chasing is where you constantly drive towards the ball, no matter where it is – or where your teammates are. While this can be more fun (at first!), ball chasing will lead to your team conceding lots of goals because your goal you will frequently be undefended.
Alternatively, if all of your team are at your own goal and someone passes upfield, there will not be anyone available to take the ball and try to score.
I would suggest that when you’re first learning the game, just focus on learning the controls – and don’t worry if you ball chase a bit. However once you have mastered the basic controls (of jumping, boosting and dribbling the ball), you should then instantly focus on not ball chasing. This simple decision will help you rank up fairly quickly.
Note: You will probably get to gold or even platinum ranks simply by practising a lot, rotating well and NOT ball chasing, but I will cover some further game tips later on. Before that though, here’s a few other essential Rocket League tips that you might not be aware of.
Use A Console Controller
I used a keyboard and mouse when I first started playing Rocket League. But after speaking to some friends, they all suggested I try out a console controller.
I donned my PC Master Race Hat and acted outraged: “what?! why would I use a console controller on a glorious PC?”, I asked. Well, it turns out that a controller makes the game much easier – and more fun, too.
A keyboard is really clunky in Rocket League, considering that it is basically a football and driving game. The joystick will always be better than the arrow (or WASD) keyboard keys.
It’s worth noting, though, that you can’t just buy any controller. It has to be a ‘USB controller’, since it will plug into your computer’s USB port. So a standard console controller probably won’t work. I personally Googled “xbox usb controller” and then purchased a cheap third-party controller for £20:
Third party controllers don’t always have the best reviews, and they might break after a year or so – but they are so much cheaper than the official ones. I am happy to buy one a year, if it means saving £40/$50 per controller!
Change Your Camera & Field Of View Settings
My next Rocket League tip is to change your camera and field of view settings. I would do this soon after ordering the game, so that you get used to playing matches with your chosen settings.
The default settings can make it hard to see enough of your teammates and the opposition players, and they can make aerials a bit harder too. By adjusting your settings, you will naturally become a better player.
You can adjust these settings by going to the settings menu (hitting Esc if you’re in a match or training), and navigating to “Camera”. There is a big debate about what the ‘best’ settings here are, so I would try out a few different recommended camera settings and see what works best for you.
These are the settings I use:
Run Through All The Built-in Tutorials
Rocket League can seem overwhelming at times, with loads of videos online showing you the ‘best’ way of playing the game. However I would suggest starting off slowly, and firstly going through the tutorial and training videos that are built into the game:
The basic tutorial will show you the basic controls, while the advanced one will build on your skills. Then I would suggest going through the aerial, goalie and striker trainings – until you get at least 80-90% on the rookie and pro levels.
Doing all this shouldn’t take you too long, and it will really help you cement the basic (and slightly more advanced) techniques you need to achieve platinum or even diamond ranks.
If you can routinely get 80-90% at the pro level, you have all the skills you need to get you in the top 10-15% of Rocket League players.
Then Go Through Specific Third-Party Tutorials
While the built-in trainings are fairly good, you will probably struggle with one or more specific areas of your gameplay. It might be that you struggle with wall-to-air dribbles, or you suck at saving the ball. There’s only so many “What a save!” quick chat insults that one guy can take!
This is where the custom training browser is really useful: there are loads of trainings that will help you to improve specific parts of your game. I wouldn’t try and complete all of these, but I would go through any which are specific to your weak areas:
Master Fast Aerials
Fast Aerials is a cool sounding technique, but it’s also really important to master. When you start becoming confident enough to try aerials (i.e. flying in the sky to hit the ball), you might have tried jumping in the air – then boosting:
This is definitely what you should do starting out, but it can be a bit… slow. Have you ever seen other players that seem to get in the sky really quickly? Well that’s down to the faster aerials technique.
To do a fast aerial, you basically start doing a double jump when your car is facing upwards (as you can see in the picture above). This double jump adds extra power to your aerial, allowing you to get in the sky quicker:
Fast aerials are a complete game changer when you start training to do aerials. It’s probably the single most important technique you can master (after learning all the basic controls, and rotating).
Try Both Cam Modes (Ball and Car Cam)
Rocket League has two built-in camera modes: ball cam, and car cam.
- Ball cam will ensure that the camera is always facing the ball. You can then adjust your car’s position to move around as you would prefer.
- Car cam will set the camera to always face the car. You are then responsible for moving your car so that you can see the ball, your teammates, and the opposing players.
The picture below highlights these two modes:
Ball cam is widely considered to be the ‘best’ camera mode for experienced players, however some players struggle to get used to it. Don’t worry too much if you naturally prefer one camera mode over the other. For the first few (hundred!) matches, just do whatever feels most natural – and whatever allows you to learn the basic and advanced techniques of the game easiest.
When you start hitting the higher ranks, you might want to start experimenting with a hybrid approach: using ball cam most of the time, but switching to car cam when rotating back or picking up boost.
Watch YouTube and Twitch Streams
Musty flicks, half flips and wave dashes… the list goes on. These aren’t names of weird medical problems, they are Rocket League moves that can help players get a competitive edge.
To be honest, some of these are more for show – or mainly useful in 1v1 matches, where a quick flick and dash can be the difference between loss and defeat. But nonetheless, it’s always good to watch the pros on YouTube and Twitch.
They give out loads of free tips, and you’ll also see lots of these awesome moves and flips. You can then start to learn which techniques to use, and when to use them. There are loads of Rocket League streamers, and the streamers include mid-ranked players right up to world-class players like Squishy and M0nkey M00n (the 2022 champion).
Caution: (another) word of advice here is that you shouldn’t allow yourself to become frustrated at your own skill levels, after watching these streamers. Many of these streamers can perform some amazing moves for entertainment, or are literally world champions.
If you can’t master the musty flick (for example), don’t feel that they can do it fine. It’s best to watch Rocket League streamers for fun and a bit of education, instead of it becoming a source of stress.
Look Back At Replays
It sounds boring, but recording replays of your matches – and watching back ones with some key moments (and especially ones that you lose!) – can be really helpful.
You can often start recording a replay by pressing a certain button on the controller (check the settings menu, because this button can vary) – or from within the settings menu (press Esc to bring it up). You can then view the saved replays back later by going through the main Rocket League menu and clicking “Extras”, then “Replays”.
I don’t record all my matches, but if something fairly remarkable happens (such as a big win – or defeat!), I try to record it so that I can learn from it in the future.
Follow The Rocket League Subreddit
If you’re becoming a big Rocket League fan, you might want to follow the RL subreddit. This can be a really useful source of news, gameplay clips, rants and encouragement. It is a fairly good community, and you’ll often find that the most up-to-date news and information is posted here first.
Don’t worry if you watch the gameplay clips and feel a bit disheartened though – just like the Twitch streams, some of the clips are hand-selected to showcase an awesome new technique. You don’t need to do amazing flips in order to hit a high rank in Rocket League.
Other Rocket League Gameplay Tips
Before wrapping up, I wanted to circle back to some more general gameplay tips that I have picked up from my 1,000+ hours of gameplay:
- Use boost wisely. It’s tempting to use your entire boost to launch forward and hit the ball, but you should always consider if it’s best to hold back and leave another teammate hit the ball. Or if hitting an aerial will use all your boost, might it be best to hang back? Of course, there are times when using up all your boost is the right thing to do (especially if a refill is nearby) – just be cautious about using all your boost all the time.
- Face the right way when defending shots. When you start learning aerials, you might try to always hit the ball. While this can be good from a learning perspective, you should try to avoid doing this when defending – especially if you are facing towards your own goal! Always try to hit the ball away from your goal when defending. If you are driving back towards your goal, try not to hit the ball unless you really need to (such as if a teammate isn’t near your goal).
- Don’t dribble the ball past your own goal. Following on from the previous tip, you will sometimes see players dribble the ball everywhere – even right past their own goal. This is never a good idea, because it’s essentially setting the ball up for your opposition to score with! If the ball is in a dangerous position, always prefer to pass it away (such as with a double-flip hit) than dribbling it across the goal mouth.
- Use quick chat helpfully. Some quick chat options are really useful, especially using “Take the shot” or “I got it” during kick-offs – which will signal to your teammates whether you are planning on hitting the ball or not. “Need boost” can also be useful if a teammate is about to centre the ball (i.e. pass it to be scored), but you don’t have the boost available to get to the ball. You can customize the exact quick chat options via the settings menu, and you should do this so that you know exactly where the most helpful chat options are.
That wraps up my tips on how to improve your Rocket League gameplay, I hope you found it useful. Before finishing up, I wanted to answer one final question.
Is Rocket League Harder Than Other Games?
I don’t personally think that Rocket League is harder than other multiplayer games, however it is harder than many single player games that allow you to change the difficulty setting! After all, being able to change an offline game’s difficulty to ‘easy’ before a big boss battle will always be easier than an online game where you are playing against other real players.
Rocket League can certainly be a frustrating game at times, though. The fact that you will play harder and harder players every time you rank up means that you never really get a break. The game is always a bit challenging!
I always try to remember that Rocket League is a game, though. I play it for fun. If I find that I’m overly getting annoyed by it, I stop playing. I figure: what’s the point in getting really irritated by something that’s meant to be fun?
Happy gaming, Rocket Leaguers!