I must be the only person online who doesn’t enjoy absolutely stomping strangers in games. Allow me to give some context to that with the below screenshot, then explain what’s going on.

Rocket League,Season 3

To most, a 7-0 score in Rocket League, halfway in the game, with themselves at the helm of the cannon, would be a divine blessing. Perhaps in the proper context, it could be for me as well. Right now, however, these thrashings aren’t exactly exhilarating, more so than it’s just a matter of going through the motions.

Recently, Rocket League reset, after a large patch, to make room for the third season in ranked competition. Usually, that’s reason enough for people, such as myself, to throw their name back into the pot and start their qualifying bouts. These ten games will determine their basic starting rank. Now, I’ll try not to toot my own horn too much here, but I am using myself as an example, so it’s going to feel like I am. I assure you, I’m not trying to. That said: I play a lot of Rocket League. No, seriously; I play an inconceivable lot of Rocket League, folks. I know a thing or two. In Season 3, however, this experience isn’t doing me much good, as the system has seemingly broken down and that affects me and players of my seniority fairly harshly.

Starting off qualifiers, it’s likely that the first two, three games are askew. Given the volume of players entering and the measuring of old and current data points, those beginner matchups are probably going to be blowouts, either way. In this case, though, I started noticing something a little fishy. Even six or seven games in, I was being put in my qualifiers with the lowest possible rank, Prospect I. Again, that might just be a data issue, but it kept happening over and over. In the end, all ten matches were played with others in this starter rank. The result of that is that I, also, was put in the lowest tier, when assigned my rank. Prospect I, Division I. Again, I don’t want to say I’m a grand champion, but this placement is objectively wrong. More so, it’s fairly insulting of developer Psyonix Studios to treat its old guard this way. I’m insulted, at least.

rocket League,season 3
I keep this picture at all times, so people don't have to lecture me about defense.

Again, I play a lot of Rocket League. And no, I’m not a pro player of any means, because how the hell do aerials work again? I can guarantee, however, that my rank isn’t anywhere near the starting line. In previous seasons, I constantly knocked at the door of Gold and Star rank, respectively. Even at my worst, solo point, I landed in the Challenger II tier. There’s a list of how these complicated divisions break down, but let’s say that’s the middle ground of skill levels, not the first percent.

So, maybe I need to explain why I feel snubbed by Psyonix. Probably. The starter rank isn’t just a status symbol; it also comes with a series of grating annoyances in solo standard queue. They’re annoyances that I’ve already long have dealt with and put in hard work not to encounter again. And yet, six hundred hours in, I’m asked to do it all over again. Seriously? I have not yet paid my dues, Psyonix? A cool six hundo isn’t enough play time to be given the basic respect not to have to deal with players, who are literally trying to hit their first balls? Each at their own pace, I have no problem with that, but I’ve long since gone through that. I can’t play bumper cars again.

The very reason why I stopped playing unranked matches, is because they had nothing left to teach me. Games like that are usually stale or an unsatisfying massacre. Ranked queues constantly push players to adapt. In Season 3 of Rocket League, I’m now forced to push my way back up from the start. And not only is that a colossal waste of my time, it also makes absolutely no sense. Worse yet, as a veteran player, I don’t even have control over the solo team assignments. Sometimes I’ll be given players who haven’t learned how to kick a ball yet, sometimes the other team will have those actual Prospect I players. In the first case, there’s no amount of push that prevents me from losing what is essentially a 1 versus 3 game, with the added insult to injury of fresh meat kicking own goals left and right. In the other sense, the opposing team can’t even come close to a chance at winning. I tower over them, fairly directly, racking up hat tricks over and over.

Rocket League,Season 3
I went from this one game

Rocket League,Season 3
to this in the next one

So, after pointless games and more pointless games, I’m now starting to climb up. Here, once more, the system clearly shows how broken the ranked games are right now. In two matches, I climbed four divisions. Four. Normally, each division is meant to offer a small stable line to grow over several matches. Now, given my skill level is nowhere near a fresh beginner, I’m just blasting through. Surely, this is good news, right? It means I’ll be back on track in no time! No, the real answer is that I shouldn’t have to elbow my way through the crowd once more in the first place. Matches aren’t instant. I put in time and effort for each individual one. And I still have five tier ranks to go, before I’m on my initial low point. That’s hours upon hours of wasted time. This broken system is extremely demotivating to continue playing. And so, my skill level will eventually drop, because only practice makes perfect. This is the opposite of how I wanted Rocket League to continue.

Rocket League,Season 3

Ok, now let’s sidestep the personal whining. I want to show one more sign on how developer Psyonix has stopped caring about growing a community and is now focusing on pure volume and manipulation. For a while now, most players have needed to look at a shiny “Downloadable Content” (DLC) button on the starter screen at all times. It only goes away when, guess, all the DLC is bought. That’s always been pretty damn gross. In the latest patch, Psyonix decided to step it up. Instead of that nasty DLC term, which comes with pejorative connotations, players are now presented with the nice, marketing-friendly, “Showroom” sign. In it, it’s possible to see just exactly what cars players are missing out on. And if there’s one thing that hooks people into buying additional content, it’s making them see what they don’t have. What a subtle yet effective change, which is likely to line the developer’s coffers well. Money trumps player satisfaction, every time.

I won’t even go into the addition of the Rocket Lab map, New Tokyo, in ranked mode. That just seems like a luck of the draw thing that players need to be able to cope with. As if going through the horde of divisions alone wasn’t frustrating enough. The Steam summer sale didn’t even make the ranked games accessible for parties last night. Sigh.

I used to love Rocket League. I implore you, Psyonix: Fix it, please.

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