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What is Rocket League, and why should I care?
The biggest car-based video game news this week, by far, is that after 5 years of being a paid purchase game, Rocket League has now gone free-to-play, and its player-base immediately exploded to over 1 million concurrent players. If you're new to the whole gaming thing, that's a pretty big deal. Rocket League is, for my money, the most fun car-based game of all time. Essentially, it's soccer, but with rocket-powered cars instead of humans.
The game is impressive for many reasons, but one of the big ones is that the physics it uses are pretty much unmatched. It's the epitome of "easy to learn, difficult to master." People talk about eSports as if they're the digital equivalent to "real" sports, but this game might be the purest interpretation of that idea. It's the only video game I've played (and trust me, I've played a lot) that has actually given me the same feeling of a "real" sport. You don't "level up" in Rocket League per se, you just play more and more and slowly get better, like a sport. There are cosmetics, but you don't unlock upgrades. There aren't "better cars" or "better items." You just practice it, like a sport. Because of that, it tickles that reward center in my brain when I pull off a great shot in the same way that me sniping a puck past a goalie would in a game of hockey.
I'm hyping it up a lot, but it's for good reason. Now that's it's free, you can and should give it a try! We even have a few helpful videos on how to sign in with your Epic Games account and what settings to change to help you get better faster. Once you've got it down, pop into one of our livestreams on Tuesday or Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern and play a few rounds with us! You can pick it up on Xbox, Playstation, Switch, or PC.
Any other exciting car games out this week?
Yes! A few cool-looking racing games have officially released this week. First up, we've got Art of Rally, a stylized, arcade-y rally racing game. It's from the same team that made Absolute Drift, and seems to carry on that same vibe. The game features over 50 classic rally cars and 60 rally stages set in places like Finland, Norway, and Japan. It looks pretty great from what we can tell. It's PC only right now, so you can pick it up on Steam, GOG, or the Epic Games store for $24.99.
Next up, we've got another super stylized, super drifty game called Inertial Drift. Yes, technically this one didn't come out this week, but there were a few bigger things to talk about last week. Inertial Drift's big value proposition is that it's a twin-stick arcade racer. It's a unique control scheme in which the left thumbstick controls the front of the car, as usual, but the right thumbstick controls the back end of the car, allowing you to pull off some truly nutty drifts with precision. We haven't had a chance to try this one ourselves yet, but IGN recently rated it a 9/10, which has us pretty excited to give it a shot. If you feel the same way, you can pick this one up on Xbox, Playstation, Switch, or PC for just 20 bucks. If you've played it, let us know what you think in the comments!