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April always means the start of the NBA playoffs, but this year, it also means the beginning of car basketball.
Last night, developer Psyonix updated its Rocket League automotive soccer game to include the new “Hoops” mode. This free addition enables players to enter a 2-on-2 game where you must put the ball up in the air and through an arched rim instead of into a soccer-style goal. This change might seem minor, but it requires new strategies and different techniques than the standard game.
Oh, and it’s a blast.
Rocket League already has 14 million players, and now Psyonix is introducing excellent free updates like Hoops to keep those players engaged. This has helped the game reach key milestones like 100,000 simultaneous online players on the Steam PC gaming service. Few games ever reach that mark, and it shows that Psyonix has a dedicated audience that it can continue selling cosmetic items to in an effort to generate revenue from the $99.6 billion gaming industry.
Achievement Unlocked! Thanks Steam players for getting us to 100k concurrent on PC! pic.twitter.com/QXHKO1CNkh
— Corey Davis (@mrcoreydavis) April 24, 2016
I’m still playing Rocket League regularly. I own it on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and it’s my go-to game whenever I have a few spare minutes. For me, Hoops is instantly refreshing. It takes the game’s strong core — which is predictable physics combined with fast-paced teamwork — and twists it just enough that this feels really new.
It doesn’t hurt that Psyonix never skimps on the details. This isn’t just a basketball skin on existing graphics and mechanics. The studio also added a basketball-style announcer for when you score, and your car even makes the squeaky sneaker sound that anyone who has watched or played basketball will instantly recognize.
All of these elements come together in a way that launches you out of your seat when you do score a basket — especially because this mode rewards players who understand the world of Rocket League. If you know how the ball moves and what it’s going to do when you hit it in a certain way, you’ll have an instant advantage over your competition.
I’ll show you what I mean in this clip, where I hit the ball off the side of the arena. It may look like I got lucky, but I assure you that I knew that I could get the ball into play near the hoop if I reversed into it and did a backflip.
Notice that I don’t even chase after the ball because I knew it was going in as soon as I hit it. That’s essentially me doing a Wesley Snipes.
And let’s be clear: Any game that makes me feel like Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump is instantly a classic.
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