Rocket League’s new battle royale mode is great, actually

Rocket League has been around long enough that many of its event modes have been around for years: but now comes a completely new take that, surprisingly, gets rid of the ball. The free-for-all Knockout mode is available until May 10th and is basically an eight-player destruction derby in new arenas designed for vehicular combat.

The mode comes with new attacking, blocking, and grappling mechanics that allow players to dodge each other, with attack and block tied to front and back jumps, respectively. It’s therefore immediately intuitive for any Rocket League player and the relatively small arenas mean it’s all the action without much chasing each other down.

Reload reloads when your wheels are on the ground, while attacks send the target flying and temporarily stun your controls, meaning lots of rocket boost back to safety when you get hit. You can also climb up the ledges of the arena, which helps a lot to save yourself, but getting hit especially in the level (or blocking it at the last moment) sends a car spinning around like, well, a rocket.

Each player has three lives and each arena has hazards that mean a KO, on top of which a safe zone around the arena gradually shrinks (spend ten seconds outside of it and you’re done). Matches also go into sudden death after six minutes, with each attack or throw boosted to max and instant death for anyone who leaves the safe zone.

Like most of Rocket League’s limited-time modes, it’s surprising how these familiar ideas fit into the game’s core mechanics. Small tweaks like a triple jump instead of the normal double jump make navigating the arena and dodging easier, while additions like a flying attack are a lot of fun and add movement utility. The weirdest element is constantly switching between players, without that shared focus on a ball.

I always end up playing this stuff for an hour and then going back to the main game, but like Rocket League’s extra modes, this is one of the best. My last game ended in a two-car stalemate where we circled each other alternating attack and block like rock-paper-scissors. They finally telegraphed an attack, I blocked it, and they shot back and collided with what looked like a giant spiked vibrator: game over. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have these experiences for free.

Leave a Comment