Until today, I only got my ass kicked at Rocket League indoors, on a couch, proximate to a television. Now that the beloved car soccer game is on the Switch, the realm of ass-kicking possibilities is infinite. I didn’t know I wanted this and I am so happy.
Rocket League’s Switch version, released today, is pretty standard fare for a Switch port at this point. If you played the game on PC, you’ll probably be a little frustrated by Rocket League’s more pixelated, fuzzy look on a docked Switch. If you’re concerned about getting the best possible ping—an important thing for serious Rocket Leaguers—maybe buy a Switch Ethernet adapter. And players with older televisions have reported some input lag with the Joy-Cons, but it seems like that doesn’t have much to do with the game itself.
Rocket League pros who want the best of the best probably aren’t going to be completely disowning their PC copies, but that opens up the soc-car field up to casuals like me. Be warned, though: If you’re a new player, you’ll be matched against seasoned pros who do play on the Xbox and PC (not PS4). For a more level playing field, I recommend ranked play.
In my few hours with Rocket League’s Switch iteration using joy-cons, a pro controller and in handheld mode, the controls felt responsive and fun, though on a single joy-con, the accelerate and reverse inputs are mapped onto the Tic-Tac-sized SL and SR buttons. As such, they’re pretty easy for your fingers to lose track of. Frankly, my Rocket League car was just as difficult to maneuver in that as it is with a Switch pro controller, on an Xbox controller or on PC.
Rocket League’s resolution is all right in handheld mode although a few folks on the Switch subreddit might beg to differ (In a recent AMA, Rocket League’s graphics engineer said that “Rocket League runs at 1280×720 in Docked and uses a dynamic resolution scaler in Undocked (handheld) depending on the stadium being played. Generally speaking it hovers around 1024×576. Post launch we plan to continue working on optimizing the game.”). A few maps look pretty rough, though—a few times, I assumed a map was still loading when it had, in fact, finished.
On the other hand, I found that the portable splitscreen mode is great fun. For me, the screens aren’t too tiny, and with the camera set to “Ball Cam”—when it follows the ball—I didn’t have to worry about losing track of things. Nothing about the Switch’s propped-up, undocked setup distracted me from the game except, again, for the tiny little acceleration buttons.
On the train this morning, I practiced against AIs on my way to work. And it turns out that the subway is the perfect place to do all the mundane routines necessary to figure out how to properly center the ball without repeatedly whiffing. I’m not sure whether I’d play primarily in handheld mode, since the game’s booming soundtrack and adorable customization options really stand out better on a bigger stream, but for practicing or a few quick pick-up games, Rocket League’s new handheld capability rules.
The Switch is a console that basically demands casual play on a lot of its games. It’s designed to be a carefree, weightless sort of device. It’s a casual device. And with Rocket League on it, I, as a Rocket League casual, feel very comfortable not taking the game too seriously and just enjoying myself.