It is no secret that Rocket League was, by a country mile, my favorite game of 2015. I listed it on top of my Unwinnable Game of the Year rankings, with an addendum: really my list was more like Rocket League at spots 1 through 5, with the other games I played taking 6 through 10 with the caveat that I only played them for an hour before reverting to Rocket League. I really like it.
One of the reasons I really like Rocket League is that so much of the gameplay reminds me of my favorite physical sport, hockey. Yes, I know, Rocket League is about rocket powered cars playing soccer, not hockey, but there are startling similarities to hockey in the way that the game is actually played. Without thought, many players revert to a dump and chase style, particularly in 2v2; in 3v3, you’ll see teams dominate the offensive zone through the use of the cycle; demolitions may as well be fights and physical play (bumping opponents around a bit) is every bit as effective in Rocket League as it is in hockey.
Naturally, when Psyonix announced that they would be introducing a hockey-themed playlist for the holidays (called ‘Snow Day’), I was pumped. I eagerly awaited the update that would bring Snow Day to my living room the same way that I eagerly await the debut of No Man’s Sky – seriously, I was excited.
Then Snow Day came.
And it was garbage.
Most, if not all, of my problems with the Snow Day playlist in Rocket League boil down to the poor implementation of the puck. First, it resembles a big black pancake much more than a hard rubber puck – the dimensions appear to be all off, even adjusting for scale. The general flatness and weightlessness of the puck contribute to terrible physics, like the puck occasionally taking a slide off the wall and then gliding, with almost no altitude loss, across the length of the arena.
The game also appeared to have a lot of trouble reckoning with the unorthodox dimensions of the puck, as it would count goals based on whether the puck breathed on the goalline or not. Whenever the puck went fluttering in the general direction of the goal, it was basically game over. There was little opportunity for proper Epic Saves, which in regular Rocket League typically come when the ball is in the process of crossing the goalline, but are saved from completely crossing over. This was just not possible in Snow Day, which is ironic given that goal reviews are a topic of such concern in the NHL today.
This led to far more goals than normal. In regular Rocket League play, I average just over a goal per game – and feel pretty good about that. In Snow Day, I averaged around 4 goals per game. It was ridiculous and goals against felt simply unfair at times, removing one of the key aspects that made Rocket League one of the best games of 2015 – the knowledge that failure was through a lack of skill or a momentary lapse of concentration, rather than unjust or unfair game mechanics.
If there’s any upside to Snow Day, it’s that it ended on January 4th – hopefully never to be seen again.