Rocket ID: delay can’t stop the fun bus

In spite of the frustrating news of delays to Psyonix's ambitious project, the introduction of Extra Modes keeps content fresh and promises a new breed of RL tactician.



Photo Credit: Psyonix

So what did you guys get as a reward for all your shenanigans during Season 8? What!? Some poxy Boost trails, you say? Yeah, me too. Sad face. 

I’m being honest when I say I was expecting a little more for my effort; sitting there as the final hours ticked painfully away; sweat beading from my brow at every scuffed shot and lamenting the ineptitude of my teammates (but never myself), it felt like I was working towards something beautiful. At times it felt like it wasn’t worth it. That I should give up. That gold standard would never be mine. “No, no,” I thought, “do it for the people. They want you to be a success. They want to see your awesome goal explosions. But most importantly: do it for yourself.” Well, I did and it wasn’t worth it. Would it kill these guys to hand out a half-decent goal explosion from time to time? I’m dying here. There’s only so much satisfaction one can take from a topper. Is that greedy? Probably.

Nothing can compare, however, with the epic levels of frustration felt at the news of the delays to Rocket ID, Psyonix’s answer to “Could this game be more awesome?”. The cross-platform mechanic promises to bring a standalone party system to the game enabling players to take full advantage of function by giving them the chance to link up with players across all platforms, in party, so that those of us with consoles can unite together with our PC-playing cousins and bring the noise to an unsuspecting enemy. 

Psyonix had this to say: 

“As outlined in our Summer Roadmap Update, our goal was to release RocketID in September, but we’ve made the difficult decision to push it out of September and include it in a future update. We want to ensure that RocketID is operating flawlessly on all platforms before its release, and this extra time will ensure that you’ll be playing and partying up with friends on different platforms with ease.”

It’s quite telling here that they’ve scrapped the vague ETA they had placed on shipping Rocket ID and changed it to a much more forgiving “a future update”. If they were convinced it was going to work out they’d slap a few weeks on it and tell us all not to freak out, but the absence of a set date is always something to be wary of. A sensible guesstimate of the sort of deadline we can expect would be “whenever it’s bloody ready”, which is more than a little disappointing. I can imagine someone at Psyonix is dealing with stress-headaches as they try to wrangle this latest feature into submission and deal with wave after wave of the minor, niggling bugs and kinks one can expect from such things; it can’t be an easy thing else everyone would already be doing it.

Of course, this doesn’t take away from the frustration, particularly if like me you’re somehow one of the rarest of unfortunates who have buddies on the platform but somehow can’t get Rocket League to function on your rig no matter what you do. This is a game that requires the latest version of Internet Explorer to run – something that I’ve personally never come across – and as achievable as that little prerequisite is my PC is an amalgamation of VPN’s and independent browsers – the Steam client is about as mainstream as it gets for me. Cache flush, DNS reset, port forwarding – I’ve tried the lot and with no success. It simply does not recognise any life in the Rocket League servers and has no definitive fix that I can find in this world or scrying into the next. I can only assume this is a sign of my PC’s impending sentience and inevitable uprising against humankind. It’s weird, man. But even if your PC isn’t out to get you and you simply don’t own one there are still a lot of reasons to join our compatriots on the platform.

Rocket League is a game that demands as much attention as we can give it, and the developer’s intentions to connect every platform are not only welcome – some might say they’re a righteous ambition in this new era of video games. Cross-platform has been touted for years now and implemented in a few great games, but there’s still some pushback in the industry as the big players work to keep their content as profitable as possible and in a lot of cases that means milking every penny exclusivity affords. It’s refreshing to see a developer with such a marketable product devote time and resources to fleshing out an already well-established market.

I don’t envy them this monumental task because it must be a real pain in the backside. 

Fortunately for us Psyonix continue to roll out new and improved features as the Progression Update hit full swing this week, and for those of us that once sought the relative safety and comfort of a game of no consequence after a thorough pasting in Competitive, the monster that is the bored semi-pro has conspired to follow us home and destroy any chance of a meaningful peace. 

While you can still jump into casual games to spare your blushes, the introduction of a competitive ranking system to Hoops, Snow Day and Dropshot is an excuse to get really, really angry about something that you probably shouldn’t let get to you. If you’ve played any of these ‘Extra Modes’ for more than five minutes you’ve likely come up against someone with a twitch account for a handle, or even one of the pros playing the circuit. On the one hand, this can be pretty cool as you watch a car defy physics and fly upside down dribbling the ball from one end of the arena to the other without ever letting it touch the ground, gifting you points merely by being in proximity to this skilful hombre; on the other hand you might be watching through tears as they do this to you over and over and over again.

While it’s interesting that the addition of a competitive setting for these games attracts the best players, it’s certainly no surprise. Competition breeds a sense of urgency, which in turn fosters the idea that to draw the most possible satisfaction one has to be prepared to be the best, with everything that entails. This isn’t something that should worry anyone; while it’s certainly a new experience to be called a ‘trash noob’ on a game where the ball is an oversized puck batted about by supercars on an ice rink, it makes for a refreshing change to see so much concentration go into a new arena. While Rocket League will never be boring, change is good and helps keep re-playability levels at an absolute maximum. It will be interesting to watch the players on the circuit develop new strategies and bring their tactical skill to a new format without straying too far from the purity of the game.

It has to be asked though: following this recent, beautiful barrage of new features and rapidly-generated content, where do Psyonix go next? Rocket League is wonderful as much for it’s simplicity as anything else, but the need to balance that facet of the game with the demands of an ever-progressive market is always present. There’s only so much that a work of art can be tweaked and added to before the original features of the subject begin to fade, and as Psyonix push to make Rocket League a titan of the gaming world one can’t help but notice that perfection is close. When Rocket ID comes into play will there be anything left to improve on? That’s a dilemma I look forward to them resolving. 

First world problems, eh?

Are you waiting for Rocket ID? Comment below when you think Psyonix will bring it to the masses? 

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