Howdy, this is Reuben, here to wash that horrible Purge taste out of your mouths. As you may know from when I have mentioned Rocket League before, I love it, so much so that I now regard it as one of my favourite games of all time – though I’m less sure it could break my top ten. It’s ridiculously fun and every game is different, and just as exciting as the last one; whilst the controls work perfectly as there are boundless amounts of cool things you can do on and off the ball, in a deceivingly complex game. It’s certainly the best sports game I’ve played.
Anyway, it’s had its fair share of updates, so much so that the game now takes up a significant amount of space on my PS4, and updates and maintenance have a fair few times stopped me from playing Rocket League when I’ve wanted to. However, I think they’ve all been worth it as the game has been refined a lot since its initial release, and, most importantly, things like Snow Day and Rocket Labs have come out of them. Ah, but there was an update yesterday, wasn’t there! The best free installment yet, Hoops Mode, was the main product of this, and, after this really long and tedious introduction, I will indeed review it.
Taking up NBA’s squeaky basketball skin, Hoops mode is exactly what you’d expect, Rocket League, but with hoops. Nonetheless, it isn’t just that. As well as the different goals, there is also the delicious new map in which you play it, which, designed for 2v2, is a small, shiny inside stadium – exactly like your average basketball stadium, with all the unique design features and everything. There are also a few other neat little touches, as follows. Firstly, as with anything basketball, there is squeaking — and it’s perfect. Secondly, as with anything basketball, there’s a basketball. Who woulda thunk it? But this thing ain’t lazy, as Psynet have added in features like these to make it feel just like you’re in a basketball game in Hoops mode, and without fail they have — though you are in a car, of course. Other cool lil’ features they’ve made for the mode are commentary clips for when goals are scored and hip-hop music features at the start of the game and various snippets throughout, which make it feel even more basketball-y.
Gameplay wise, it’s the same in terms of mechanics as normal football Rocket League, and though design features make it feel very different, it plays like the rest of the game, just with a smaller pitch, different goals and a different kick-off style. However, a change to physics would most likely make Hoops mode take up more space, and it would probably be changed to a paid DLC — and who, being poor, wants that? No, I think they made the right decision in not changing much things with the core mechanics for this one, as those core mechanics have taken years to tweak anyway, and if they made a radical change to them now who’d to say it wouldn’t take loads of tweaking itself to get as good as the core mechanics for the original Rocket League game? For an add-on, it would just be silly. But as it is, it is a very good add-on.
It’s just occurred to me that I haven’t described what the gameplay differences are for the add-on, and there are a few. Well, I’ve given the goals, kick-off and smaller stadium a passing mention, haven’t I. Basically, the goals are large, round hoops at each end of the stage, which although can be driven underneath, the ball cannot pass through and must be played into it over the circular hoop itself. It’s simple to get the hang of for someone like me who’s played the game a lot, but for a newcomer or someone who can’t fly or has a restrictive skill level I reckon it would be very difficult to get their head around how exactly they lift the ball into the hoop. For me, though, it works, and there are many ways in which you can score dunks in the mode, such as aerial shots, chipped shots and rounding the ball in from the corner spot, among others. But, yes, I’d imagine it would be pretty difficult for the aforementioned “noob!!!11!1!!!!!!111!1!!!1!!!!1111! lel”. Now, the smaller stadium means the game is aptly compact for a basketball game, and the kick-offs literally require aerials — yeah, to some this would be difficult. However, in this smaller stadium you are still allowed 100x boost, and that can make it feel a little over the top – although I don’t know how they could tackle that seeing as there’s a lot of flying to be done.
With the goals, some people would say that they’d prefer, higher up, smaller goals, to make it feel just that much more basketball-like. But I think that would just be too hard, and the goals as they are work perfectly well.
To summarise: As free add-ons go Hoops mode is a fine addition to an already blisteringly fun game, and it is unique enough to challenge the football skin, though for newcomers its demanding style could put them off, and there are a few tweaks that could be made to improve it. Nonetheless, it feels perfectly basketball-y and plays very well, and is just as manic and fun as all things Rocket League. It’s the best free add-on I’ve got my hands on, but, if it could be added to the ranked online modes and there were a couple of gameplay tweaks made here and there, I would be even happier than I am now. As it is, though, if you have Rocket League, do yourself a favour and play Hoops mode right now.
It would feel silly to give a score to an add-on, so I’m just gonna say it’s great.
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