Playing soccer on flat ground? Psh, that’s so last year. In the high-adrenaline world of Rocket League, you play as a rocket-powered car that can jump, flip, and slide around the field while an oversized soccer ball is juggled between two goals and up to eight players at a time. There are many tips and tricks that players can use to master the game, but learning how to control your vehicle while it’s flailing through the air at high speed (otherwise known as an “aerial”) is where the true art of the League lies.
But what if you aren’t sure how to get your wheels off the ground without flopping on your face right after? Then it’s time for you to check out our comprehensive guide on perfecting the practice of high-flying, high-adrenaline Rocket League aerials.
I Believe I Can Fly
The first tip to mastering aerials in Rocket League is actually three, and it’s probably what you’re going to like the least: practice, practice, and practice. Rocket League may look like it’s played on a flat plane, but half the game actually takes place in the 3D space, with much of the air above the field being filled with just as much action as what you’d experience while playing on the ground.
Thankfully, the developers of RL already know that getting their cars airborne is one of the most difficult mechanics in the game to master, and to compensate they’ve included a series of handy training tutorials that are available right from the get-go.
To find these, start by opening up the Rocket League client and clicking the “Training” button from the left-hand menu, highlighted above.
Once here, you can start with “Beginner” mode, which will feature ten different scenarios of aerial shots that you can run through to get the basics of how the car handles in the air as opposed to when it’s on the ground. From there things get progressively harder in “Pro” and “All-Star” mode, where you won’t only need to know how to fly the car, but also how to adjust its course mid-flight in case the ball flies past the point where you’re expecting it to end up.
To even come close to landing an aerial in real-world online matches, you should be able to score a minimum of 50 percent on the All-Star training section for multiple runs in a row. Mastering the training section is what makes the difference between players who rise up in the ranks with ease, and those who find themselves scraping the bottom of Bronze I matches with no improvement for weeks on end.
Put it to Work
Once you’ve got the basic technical skill of an aerial down, the key to using them in an actual match lies in learning how to finesse the car to not only hit the ball where it needs to go, but also landing in a way that won’t leave you vulnerable if the shot is blocked.
Ask any pros out there, and they’re likely to tell you the same thing: landing an aerial is just as (if not more) important than the takeoff, and the difference between a Bronze and Platinum rank is knowing when the risk isn’t necessarily worth the possible payoff.
The first step to gauging the risk of a particular maneuver is to always be sure that you’re aiming for where the ball is going to be, not where it is when you initially take off.
This can be difficult to do if you stay on Ball Cam exclusively, but as seen in the image below even though Ball Cam is on and the goal is completely lost in the sky, you’ll notice there are two long orange lines jutting down from the ceiling. These are the goal markers, which ensure no matter where you’re looking at any given time, you can still maintain a general sense of your bearings and where the ball needs to end up when you’re making an offensive aerial strike. Keep an eye on these when you’re in the aiming phase of an aerial shot, and you’re sure to always hit your target with ease.
Along that same train of thought, it should be noted that aerials are not always just an offensive move. Due to the nature of the flighty physics so essential to the game’s playstyle, often the ball can be sailing from one end of the pitch to the next with only a single hit, and knowing how to intercept it mid-flight can be the difference between denying a goal to your opponents and letting one slip by uncontested.
The balance of risk vs. reward is just as precarious for players on defense because if you leave the goal to attempt an aerial save and miss, by the time you hit the ground to recorrect the ball will already be behind the net. Being able to make the right call and execute consistently is what separates the wheat from the chaff in Rocket League, so master those aerials, and remember that not every shot is always going to be worth the risk of boosting off the pitch to fly around in the clouds instead.
If you talk to a dozen different Rocket League players about what makes the game so intoxicatingly fun and relentlessly addictive, you’re sure to get a dozen different answers.
For myself and others like me, it’s the fact that what looks like a jet-powered soccer match on the surface can actually be an intricate, deep game of chess once you really start digging into the strategy of how it works. Decisions aren’t just about reaction; they’re about prediction, and knowing what your opponents are going to do before they do it in order to capitalize on their mistakes. Aerials are just one tool in a whole box of tricks that can give you the edge over your opponents, and send them into fits of mashing the forfeit button as your car soars through the air without a care.
Image Credits: Psyonix Games