Rocket League Getting Started Guide

If we cast our minds all the way back to 2015 and think about the state that the sporting game genre was in, you may remember that everything was beginning to go a little stale. Now, I hear you shouting at your screens, saying that it’s very much still the case. Well, I fully agree, but I think the rot began to set in around this time. NBA, Madden, FIFA, WWE and various other high profile sports games were phoning it in year after year, and there was a huge gap in the market to fill.

Well, in stepped Psyonix with a revolutionary soccer game that combined racing game mechanics with a soccer format, and the result is chaotic, clever and pure unadulterated fun. This title that galvanised the genre is, of course, Rocket League

This game burst onto the scene after being selected as a PS Plus giveaway item in 2015, and this exposure allowed the game to amass a huge player base seemingly overnight and thrive, much like Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout did recently.

This game has only grown in scale since then, becoming a staple of the esports community, offering regular championships for elite players to earn huge cash prizes, and the game is constantly offering updates like third party collaborations, new game modes and more. Plus, Epic Games decided to commandeer this project, and since then, the game has moved to a Free to Play model, so it’s one of the most accessible games out there.

However, you may be looking into this game, and you may wild yourself bewildered by the unique approach to sports gaming or the players who can boost into the air, keep a tight spiral and aerial the ball into the net off the backboard. Well, the good news is, not everyone is that good, and the other good news is that we are going to help you get closer to their level.

We have put together a handy getting started guide that will run you through the basics, talk about some things you should focus on, and point out some long term goals that you should consider. So without further delay, here is our Rocket League getting started guide.

Read also: Top Rocket League Tips to Start Playing Better or how to choose the best Rocket League Cars.

rocket league ford

Before You Begin

Before you jump into your first game and try your best to bang in some goals in your fancy new Super-Automatic Rocket Propelled Battle-Car, there are some things you might want to consider to get the most out of your early game experience. Here is a couple listed below: 

Configure Your Controls

The first thing we would suggest for a complete beginner to this game is to change your controls to a pro setup. I made the mistake a long time ago of sticking with the frankly inadequate default controls, and now I’m too set in my ways to change.

However, if you are proactive from the start and go for some bindings that lend themselves to playing well and picking up consistent results, then you should see the benefits immediately. Here is an example control setup that I would recommend: 

  • Powerslide/air roll: L1
  • Boost: Circle
  • Ball Cam: Triangle
  • Jump: Cross
  • Brake: L2 
  • Throttle: R2
  • Adjust Your Core Settings

Along with your controls, there are some core settings that can be configured to offer an experience that is much richer and offers more consistent results when you take to the field. Here are the settings that we believe offer the best overall Rocket League experience. Just note, these are down to a matter of preference, but these settings are rather popular within the community: 


  • Steering Sensitivity: 1.00
  • Aerial Sensitivity: 1.00
  • Controller Deadzone: 0.50
  • Dodge Deadzone: 0.70


  • FOV: 110
  • Distance: 270
  • Height: 100
  • Angle: -3.00
  • Stiffness: 0.45
  • Swivel Speed: 1.20
  • Transition Speed: 1.20

Related reads: Best Rocket League Camera Settings.

We would also suggest that you turn off the following to improve overall game performance. When playing online, your ping being low is everything: 

  • Anti-Aliasing
  • Transparent Goalposts
  • Depth of Field
  • Ambient Occlusion 
  • Lens Flares
  • Light Shafts
  • Bloom 
  • Dynamic Shadows 
  • Motion Blur
  • Weather Effects 

Car Choice Matters

Then lastly, we would also urge you to select a car that will deliver the best results. It would be easy to think that the cars within this game were purely offered in such varieties as a wealth of cosmetic options for the player to express themselves. While that is partially true, each car also has its own unique hitbox and lends itself to different playstyles.

We won’t go into excessive detail about these hitboxes but what we will say is that aside from a handful of pros who use the Dominus, the Octane body type is used by all the elite players, and who are we to question those that know the game better than anyone? 

Your First Few Hours

Okay, so the settings, controls, and your car are all configured and selected. So it’s about time we hit the field and got our tyres dirty. Here is what we would suggest that the player does within their first few hours in a rough, chronological order. 

Begin with Free Play/Training

While the single-player aspect of Rocket League is something that you may only use once or twice in your entire Rocket Propelled Battle-Car career, the training and free play modes are features that will consistently offer a means of honing your skills and serve as a valuable resource to even the most elite players who want to stay sharp.

We would suggest that players hop into free play mode and get a hands-on understanding of the controls, the mechanics and maybe even try some of the easier drills on offer to see if the information is being absorbed. 

Play a Few Single Player Games

It’s easy to forget that Rocket league has a single-player mode at all, but it does, and it’s a great resource for players starting out. Here you will be able to play one-off matches, seasons and tournaments against AI opponents, and you can configure the difficulty to suit you.

What we would suggest is that you play a handful of games, gradually upping the difficulty as you begin to win games. The AI isn’t all that clever in this game, to be quite frank, so before you take yourself online and try to play against a real player with genuine cognitive function, make sure that you can beat the AI on the hardest difficulty setting. 

Online Casual matches

You may be tempted to hop into ranked matches and try to climb that ladder to Grand Champion rank right now; however, we would say that is ill-advised. You’ll need some experience of playing against others in a risk-free environment, and casual online games are perfect for this.

Sure these games are still competitive; I mean, who doesn’t want to win, right? However, when all is said and done, the only thing that you gain from these games is experience and bragging rights. So this is a great way to dip your toe in the water and see how you fare against some non-AI opponents. 

We would also suggest that players try all the different modes on offer. You should play a few games of Solo, doubles, standard, and plus, you might want to try your hand at the more whimsical modes like Hoops or Rumble, for example. This way, players can see where their strengths lie and specialise in a certain category when they move on to ranked matches. 

Play Your Placement Matches

Now that you have a good number of games under your belt, it’s time to find where your level is in the world. Rocket League offers ranked matches that will assess your ability level, and this way, you will always play against players who are of a similar ability to yourself.

There are ten placement matches that players will need to play before they are awarded their rank, then from then on, the player will have to win games to climb the ranks. A good starting rank to aim for is the top end of the Gold ranks; this will mean you are better than the average player. 

rocket league car

Things We Wish We Knew Before We Played Rocket League

When I began playing Rocket League way back in 2015, I can tell you, I made every single commonly seen mistake within this game, and that is why it took what felt like forever to climb out of Gold I. I wasn’t learning from my mistakes, and I wasn’t playing in a way that would offer consistent results. Sure, it’s fun just to play and be part of the action, but there is no feeling quite like winning.

We all want every little crumb of serotonin that we can get, and for that reason, we aim to be your light in the darkness. We have compiled a list of some of the most helpful tips and facts about Rocket League that we wish we knew before hopping into this manic sports meets racing title. Check them out below:

You Cannot Play a Position

One of the most common things you see in Rocket League from new players is a desire to be a striker or a goalkeeper, for example. Well, we hate to break it to you, but you cannot be just one thing in Rocket League if you want to ascend the ranks. There is a constant need to rotate and change your role on the fly within each game, so if you are a great goalscorer but suck at tending goals, you are a liability.

If you stick to what you are good at, you leave your team vulnerable to counter-attacks, and if you try to be a goalie without adequate training, that isn’t going to end well either, so please don’t specialise be an all-rounder. 

Learn to Rotate

We mention the term rotating above, and it is at the heart of Rocket League tactics when not playing solos. This is a term that essentially means that when your team is attacking, you have someone playing the defensive line at all times, then when this player needs to react and joins the attack, for example, another player must drop back. It’s all about being proactive and communicating with your team effectively so that, if the attack breaks down, you aren’t gifting the opposition an easy goal. 

Use Your Boost Wisely

Yes, having a massive rocket at the back of your vehicle that can send you zooming around the field and propel you up into the air is cool and all, but you need to be conservative with this resource. In 50-50 challenges, the majority of the time, the player with the most boost will come away with the ball. Plus, if you have a chance to turn the tide and force a counter-attack and you wasted all your boost beforehand, you have missed an opportunity to lead your team up the field and potentially score. 

A pro tip is that when you see your car enter a visible slipstream, which is represented with trail marks behind your back tires, this means you are supersonic, which is top speed. So using boost at this point is useless and effectively wasting a resource that could be helpful later. So be on the lookout for this. 

Be a Team Player

One Rocket Propelled car does not maketh a team. That’s how the saying goes, right? When playing team modes in Rocket League, it is a common thing to see beginner players try and take matters into their own hands-on pretty much all scenarios and try to carry the team on their back. Let me just tell you, unless you are an elite player, this will seldom work out for you.

Beginner players often think that success is measured by the number of touches they have of the ball or how many goals they score, disregarding the team’s holistic output. Well, let us make this very clear. Any team that can string a few passes together and play even remotely cohesively will take you apart with ease.

So, do your best to communicate with your teammates, try to get your head up and look for other players in better positions than you. Instead of taking that shot, maybe use a wall or the backboard to set up a rebound. These small improvements will see you rise rapidly up the beginner ranks. 

rocket league play

Take Flight

This one can have mixed results as a beginner player, but the only way to get better is to try. If you have watched a pro Rocket League game, you will know that the vast majority of the game takes place in the air. However, when playing against a pool of beginner players, the game is played almost completely on the ground.

So with that in mind, even if you can master some simple aerials and hone your ability to track the flight of the ball in the air and make contact, you will always be able to dictate the play, create more chances and ultimately, win more games. We would maybe begin by practising this in casual matches and be prepared to sail past the ball more than a few times. Mistakes are how we learn.

Use The Walls

Beginner players in this game are rather conservative in their playstyle, as shown by the above entry as well. They don’t take flight often, they don’t take a lot of risks, and usually, they don’t utilise their surroundings either. Your car has the ability to channel its inner Spiderman and can ride along walls without falling. So if you believe that you can get to a ball via the wall rather than waiting for it to drop out of the sky, make the most of that opportunity. 

Make Use of RL Tracker

RL Tracker is a third party website that offers stats and analysis of everything you do in Rocket League. Through linking up your account, you will be able to track your average goals per game, your progression stats, your playstyle and the website also offers a feature where you can input data from recent games and the website will even break down the game in detail offering analysis of how you can improve your game.

It’s a wonderful tool to have and allows you to watch yourself visually improve over time, which we think is pretty cool.

Train Regularly

Training is such an important thing to do when playing Rocket League. Thanks to the abundance of user-made drills on the platform and if you play on PC, the Steam Workshop maps. Players have so many options to hone their craft and practise specific skills and mechanics. If you want to focus on air dribbles, you can.

If your aerial saves have been lacking, then work on those. Or, if you just want to master the art of boost control in mid-flight, there are so many custom maps that accommodate this. We would suggest that for every Rocket League session you play, you donate fifteen minutes of your time to training. Believe us when we say you will thank us later. 

Play Ranked Games with Friends

Then lastly, you should team up with your pals when playing ranked team games. While the matchmaking system and the ability to jump into a game and play within seconds are both well handled in this game. We have to say, the teammates that you can get stuck with can be a mixed bag. This inconsistency can see you regimented in a ranking that you really don’t belong in, and for that reason, you should enlist the help of your friends.

This way, not only can you consistently play with someone that will give 110%. You will also build a rapport with your friends within the context of this game and gradually grow as a team. So don’t leave things up to the matchmaking gods; get your friends on board. 

rocket league flight

Things to Avoid

Then equally, there are a lot of things in Rocket League that you shouldn’t do. These things will hurt your results on the pitch and will affect your overall enjoyment of the game off the pitch too. So to help you avoid these potential pitfalls, we have documented them below:

Never Hesitate

Hesitation is a massive no-no in the world of Rocket League. If you hesitate for a split second due to the fast-paced nature of the game, you have already conceded. Failure to react first will see you come out second to tackles, let players in for a free shot on goal and put your teammates under pressure. Now sure, reacting fast can sometimes lead to rash decisions, but this is something that you gradually get better at judging with experience, so in the beginning, it’s better to act first than to not act at all. 

Don’t Hit and Hope

A common thing with beginner players is hitting and hoping. There is this belief amongst newbies that if you hit the ball hard and knock the ball up the pitch into the opponent’s corner, you have somehow done a great job. Well, nine times out of ten, that isn’t the case.

Occasionally that will be required in defensive situations where you need to relieve the pressure on your goal. However, in most cases, especially in beginner games, relaxing, taking your time and deciding to either pick a pass or carry the ball forward is almost always the best option. So before you go mindlessly punting the ball, take a breath and then act. 

Don’t Always Seek Out Boost

There is yet another belief amongst new players to Rocket League that unless you are at 100% boost capacity, you are somehow unable to compete to the best of your ability. This then leads to the player rushing over to a corner of the map to grab a big boost pickup, often leaving a goal open, and once the opponent scores, that full tank of boost doesn’t really account for much, does it? Two things you need to take away here.

One is that there are tonnes of little 12% boost pickups dotted over the field, so when travelling up and down the pitch, try to create paths that drive through these pickups. Then there will not be as much of a need to seek out those bigger boost pickups unless they are convenient for you to grab.

Then secondly, in almost every scenario when defending at least, one 12% boost packet will offer enough lift off the ground to save just about any shot on goal, provided you are positioned well. So if we believe that 100% boost is required to tend your goal, we want to put that theory to bed. So work on your positioning rather than fixating on your boost. 

Don’t Forget to Warm Up

Then lastly, we cannot stress enough how important it is for players to avoid going into ranked matches cold. If you go in without some time spent practising your key manoeuvres and without playing a little beforehand, you are asking for trouble.

Think about it, someone that has been playing for hours and is on a hot streak is always going to have a huge advantage over someone that has literally just picked up the pad. So do some training, play some casual matches and when you think you are firing on all cylinders, hop into ranked matches. 

rocket league hockey field

Long Term Goals in Rocket League to Consider

Then lastly, we want to help you look ahead to a time where you would consider yourself a tenured Rocket League player and highlight some accolades and long term goals to consider as you embark on your quest for the rank of Grand Champ. Here they are below:

Reach Your Dream Rank

We say ‘dream rank’ as every player will approach this game differently. Some will aspire to be in that 1% of players that are considered the best of the best. Or, for example, if you are like me, you will be happy nestling into the Diamond ranks and feel quite accomplished that you even reached those relatively lofty heights.

However, no matter what your aspirations are, there will always be a rank above your own that you will be striving for. I always play with the intention of breaking into the champion ranks. I probably never will, but a boy can dream. So set your target and work hard to get there. 

Kit Out Your Ride

This one will ultimately come down to how much you care about cosmetics in games, but if you like them, the good news is that Rocket League has a cavalcade of ways to personalise your car. You can add animated decals, fresh new wheels, toppers, antennas, boosts and trails to alter your car’s look.

You can spend cash getting involved in the seasonal Rocket Pass; you can buy things from the in-game store. Or if you don’t want to do any of that, the game provides events and random prizes just for playing the game, so with time, you will eventually get enough items you love to make your car a representation of you. 

Join a Team

We aren’t saying become a pro esports player here. Just for clarification, but equally, we aren’t saying not to either. There are teams that players can join who play at various levels within the game. This can just be a way to find a regular set of guys to play with on the regular, or this can be something that you take seriously as you build your brand, train to become the best and who knows, you might even become a pro esports team. Shoot for the stars!

Learn How to Freestyle

Then lastly, you can try to learn advanced moves that allow players to try alternative playstyles within the game. One of the most popular of these is the freestyle class. This is a type of player that typically plays solo games and tries their utmost to score the most technically amazing and visually appealing goals possible. This style won’t do much good for your rank, but if you are just playing for the fun of it, this is a great way to squeeze every last bit of joy from the Rocket League experience. 

rocket league game

FAQ Section 

Question: What is Rocket League Sideswipe

Answer: This is a free to play mobile game that takes the core gameplay of Rocket League and tweaks it slightly to offer gameplay that takes place on a 2D plane. This can be played in solos and doubles, has full online functionality and offers gameplay that isn’t too far removed from another popular mobile game called Head ball 2. 

Question: What is SARPBC?

Answer: This is an acronym that is directly linked with this series. It stands for Super Automated Rocket Propelled Battle-Cars, and this was actually the title of the first game in the series. This game was released during the PS2 era, offering gameplay that is very similar to that of the modern Rocket League experience. However, it was much more primitive, and the game’s potential had not yet been fully realised. 

Question: Does David Beckham Own a Rocket League Team?

Answer: David Beckham part-owns an esports team known as Guild Esports, who is one of the major players in the Rocket League Esports community. This team regularly competes in the RLCS (Rocket League Championships) and is a respected team that tend to produce some decent results. They are also a team that originates from Great Britain, which goes some way to explaining why David Beckham is involved in the project. 

In a League of your Own

As you can see from the information above, Rocket League is a game that may look a little outlandish and intimidating to first time players. However, when you get a hands-on experience of what this game has to offer, you realise that the controls are rather intuitive, the game is rather straightforward, and there is a level for everyone to find which allows them to enjoy this title with fellow gamers of their skill level.

We hope this guide serves you well in your early Rocket League journey and as always, thank you for reading Indie Game Culture!

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