It’s been over a year since Rocket League came out and I’ve had a lot of teammates in that time.

I spend most of my time playing Casual 3v3 matches, and I’ve seen an incredible range of skills and playstyles there. Even for someone who plays the game exclusively casually, the amount of gameplay depth is staggering.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that a metagame would have emerged by now - a winning strategy that players consistently use. Luckily, Rocket League is no ordinary multiplayer game, and no simple strategic shortcut will lead an unskilled team to victory.

But that is not to say there is no merit to strategy. Indeed, it is quite crucial for every successful team. In an ideal world we would be in perfect sync with our teammates, rattling off opponent’s positions and shifting effortlessly from defense to offense on a moment’s notice. But far more often we are simply tossing out a brief “Nice shot!” or “Close one!” (or my new favorite, “Savage!”) and trusting our teammates to protect our best interests.

With that in mind, here are some tips for playing Casual 3v3 Rocket League. These aren’t hard and fast rules, and none of these suggestions should overrule common sense, they are simply things that I’ve found helpful to think about while playing.

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1. Trust, Trust, Trust:

Above all, trust in your teammates is essential. “But these are just some stupid randos from the internet!” you protest. And that’s true. And honestly, they’re probably terrible. But you still must trust them.

A botched assist can easily be as dangerous as an opponent’s attack, regardless of your intentions. Also keep in mind that no matter how good you are at the game, you can’t know everything that’s happening on the pitch. It’s simply impossible. Assume the best of your teammates, and even if they let you down, you can rest easy knowing you probably didn’t make things worse.

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2. Starting Positions:

If you start in either of the side positions, you are on call to hit the ball as soon as it drops. If you start behind your teammates, stay there in case of an unlucky bounce towards your goal. Take a moment to look around you before each point and figure out who is where. A little team-chat here can go a long way.

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3. Try to Keep Track of Your Teammates:

There are a few simple tricks to this:

  • Usually you will want two players on “attack” and one player on “defense.” Although these roles are not exactly static, they are generally good guidelines to keep in mind. Try to remember whether you are attacking or defending at any given moment.
  • Attacking players should usually have each other in sight, while defending players should be surveying the entire field.
  • If you find yourself behind one of your teammates, keep in mind that they probably cannot see you. Don’t try to overtake them unless you are really confident that you have a great shot lined up. Otherwise you risk bumping them and messing up their plans.
  • When using the Ball-Cam (which I always use) you are very vulnerable to high bounces above your head. If you see one of your teammates underneath a high bounce, again assume that they can’t see you, and make sure you give them enough room to either maneuver out of the way or make their move on the ball.

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4. Know Your Limits:

This is an important concept for any cooperative multiplayer experience, and it crucially ties into tip #1 and the issue of trust. If you are in a disadvantageous position, think carefully before you take action. If your teammates are good, they’ll see you struggling and move in to help.

Oftentimes bad players seem to be operating on the level of “dog playing fetch;” so eager to chase and attack the ball under any circumstances that they forget the larger picture.

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Edit: Commenter C to the J says: “Just because you CAN hit it doesn’t mean you should.” Well put.

Each time you hit the ball, you should have a clear purpose in mind. “Score a goal,” “stop the opposing team’s advance,” “center the ball for your teammates,” “block a shot,” etc. If you don’t have an idea what you’re trying to accomplish with any given shot, it might not be a great shot. You also run the risk of messing up your teammates’ plays.

And finally, realize that those awesome high-flying maneuvers that we love to watch on Highlight Reel are not merely difficult, they’re extremely risky to boot. There are few things as humiliating as gently floating over the ball, unable to do anything as your opponents tap it into your goal. Any large jump has the potential to send you flying away from the action, which costs precious seconds. Feel free to try it out, but be prepared for that likely outcome.

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5. Don’t Be Shy:

Say “hi” to your opponents with a friendly bump! Or a not-so-friendly one!

Don’t underestimate the value of being a bully on the pitch. A good knock against an opponent’s car can be as valuable as a solid shot on the ball. If an opponent is making fast progress towards your goal, knocking them aside will throw off their whole attack trajectory. If you find yourself surrounded by opponents, go demolition derby on them while your teammates try to knock the ball away. Slamming into your enemies like a crazy person may not be as glamorous or graceful as the best Rocket League plays, but you can’t argue with its usefulness. Just make sure you keep tip #2 in mind and try to avoid crashing into your teammates.

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6. Don’t Clump Up:

Often the most dramatic exchanges will happen in the corners of the pitch, where the offense seeks to push the ball towards the goal and the defense tries to knock it away. The worst thing that can happen in a situation like this, whether you’re on offense or defense, is having your entire team clumped together, attacking the ball at the same time. If you can see both of your teammates surrounding the ball, take it upon yourself to move back and find another angle.

It may seem like you’re helping your team by getting into that scrum, but unless one of your team members is watching from the outside, you’re playing with fire. When a ball is being juggled in the air, remember patience, because sooner or later that ball is going to break away from the group and you need to be ready to move when it does.

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This is the core of my incredibly simple Rocket League strategy: your team can’t all be doing the same thing at the same time; you’re guaranteed to get in your own way. If you take only one piece of advice from this post, let it be that.

7. And Don’t Forget...

Let’s see some hustle, and hey, have fun out there!


pocoGRANDES appears to be some kind of bizarre hairless upright ape. He can be spotted in the wild writing for TAY, the Kotaku user blog.