Rocket League: All Star Is Easier Than Pro

Rocket League: All Star Is Easier Than Pro

Rocket League released a few weeks ago to high acclaim and ravenous consumption. Some coworkers and I have been playing it on the office’s PS4 during lunch breaks (and other impromptu creative strategy sessions). As a soccer game with jet-boosting cars and a big bouncy ball, it’s fantastic fun.

But we’ve discovered something wonderfully odd.

The computer AI is easier on All Star than on Pro.

The game’s hardest difficult is All Star (and then above it is Unfair, which is All Star AI and imbalanced teams at 3 vs. 4). We’ve spent weeks playing the game, watching videos and Twitch, and trying to master advanced techniques — okay, master is too strong a word; we’ve been trying to simply perform them successfully once. While we got our feet wet, we played on Rookie, but the matches were dolefully easy, with wins typically around 9-0. So we quickly kicked the AI up to Pro, and it felt brutal at times. The Pro AI seems driven by a few basic functions: attack ball aggressively, unless it crosses the half mark into friendly territory; then rush back to the goal, and sit inside of it. They’re vicious, with singular focus on the ball, and as AI, they’re timing for jumps, blocks and shots on goal can be executed with sniper accuracy. Our strategies typically involved trying to exploit the AI to push the ball back to their own goal. Unfortunately, that made for poor soccer strategy.

We weren’t playing the game. We were playing the Pro AI.

Then on a whim, to see how absurd the challenge could be, we started an exhibition on All Star difficulty. We lost 2-5, but something felt different. The AI used legitimate strategy — strategy that could be predicted, understood and countered. The All Star AI actually played a soccer match, instead of chasing the ball with precise brutality. In our loss, we felt a flare of confidence.

We could face this opponent.

Since that match, we’ve stopped playing Pro and play only All Star. The All Star AI consistently tries to keep one player on defense and tries to center balls for shots on goal. It makes for a more sensible match. It makes for opportunities to prepare against, counter and exploit. The All Star AI is fast and precise, but it’s reasonable. It plays soccer, and we’ve enjoyed the game so much more now that we’ve stopped playing Pro.

I suppose playing online is the next difficulty level. We’ve ventured there before. It was wretched and rude. Maybe we’ll just stick with All Star.