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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Rocket League's summer update and new Rocket Pass are designed for players who want a ton of new items

$10 for the good stuff

A non-negligible percentage of the hardcore Rocket Leaguecommunity are obsessed over cosmetic item drops. They’re the players who collect certified and painted variants of free items. They’re the players who spend $1 to open every crate they can get their hands on. They want their car to look fresh at all times, and, maybe more important to the collector mindset, they want their inventory bursting with desirable items.

The future of Rocket Leaguehas seemingly been designed with this sort of person in mind. We met with Psyonix at E3 last week for a presentation about the game’s summer update. The first order of business was cross-play parties. This feature has been in the works for a long time and it’s finally debuting sometime this summer. The Venn diagram is what you’d expect. PC, Switch, and Xbox can party up with each other in any combination, and PC and PS4 players can join a party together; predictably, PS4 won’t be able to create parties with Switch and Xbox players.

With the summer update, Psyonix is removing the level cap from Rocket League. Right now, it’s set at 75 with a steep exponential XP curve making the higher numbers a slog to hit. It seriously takes at least 1,000 hours for most people. The update will recalculate every player’s progress and assign them a level based on the new system. Game director Scott Rudi tells us that pros might find themselves somewhere between levels 100 and 150. Given how much they’ve been playing Rocket Leaguefor three years now, that figure was well below my expectation.

The new structure will be a flat XP progression where every player can expect to level up every two or three hours. The hook is that every level comes with an item drop. Psyonix is doing away with the standard post-game random items that it has always had. Now, they’ll be rewards for reaching new levels. Crates, however, will still be dropped randomly after games.

This is Psyonix’s way of making level rank finally matter. It’s also a way to encourage positive behavior. There will be XP boosts for things like using the party system, finishing matches, and playing consecutive games. Similarly, there will be temporary XP penalties for negative behaviors like habitually quitting, and it’ll apply to both casual and competitive playlists.

The other part of the summer update pertains to the new Rocket Pass system, and this is where Psyonix revamps a big part ofRocket League‘s monetization. There will be two forms of Rocket Pass: The free track and the premium track. The premium Rocket Pass will cost 10 keys ($10). Psyonix tells us keys are the chosen currency so that players can obtain a premium pass by trading items for keys.

Rocket Pass seems to run sort of adjacent to the levels, as it is XP-based and it doles out unique items every few tiers. Psyonix says it’s creating a lot of brand new items that will only be available as part of the Rocket Pass tracks. There will be approximately 70 tiers to each Rocket Pass. Each Rocket Pass will last somewhere between two to three months, and they aren’t timed around the competitive seasons.

The benefits of the premium pass are alluring for the players who want a bunch of new items. Premium grants an XP boost that runs the duration of the pass, so new levels will be reached more quickly. It also comes with an item at every tier. The free track stops at tier 70 (or whatever number Psyonix settles on) but the premium track keeps going. Once past 70, it’ll start dropping painted and certified variants of items. There will also be new car bodies that are only available as part of the premium Rocket Pass. And, to cap it all off, all items earned from Rocket Pass will be tradeable.

For those players I described in the first paragraph, premium Rocket Pass is a no-brainer. This seems designed to leave no doubt as to whether it’ll yield enough items to warrant dropping $10 four or five times a year. Those who invest should find their garages overflowing with cosmetics, which they’ll mostly look to trade up in pursuit of even cooler cosmetics. (That titanium white Octane is so elusive!) For everyone else,Rocket Leaguemostly stays the same. If you don’t care about the look of it all, then it’s still just a game about cars putting giant soccer balls in nets. Your level will just be a little higher as you do it all.

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