In this article, Rocket League’s demolitions expert Rocket Sledge answers some common questions about this controversial game mechanic.
My name is Rocket Sledge. I’m a Champion 2 level player that first became known in the community for my use and promotion of the demolition mechanic. Transitioning from demolition montages and tutorials to eventually becoming a general RL YouTube content creator, I can definitely say my Rocket League career has been an interesting journey. Now, I’m proud to be a part of the GamersRdy content team! For my first article, I decided it was best to go back to my roots. So let’s discuss some common questions or thoughts in regards to those dirty, dirty, demolitions.
1. Are Demos Cheating/Cheap?
Ugh, cheating? I feel like I shouldn’t have to discuss it, but as I found out recently on Twitter, there’s still people that feel this way.
Simply put: A mechanic, programmed by the developers with a name, icon, points (20 points for 7 in a game) and statistically tracked by the game cannot be a hack or a cheat.
Now when it comes to it being “cheap”, well that’s definitely something that can start an argument. If we boil rocket league down to its basic elements & mechanics: everything we do involves us trying to put our opponent at some disadvantage. No one goes into a competitive video game thinking: “I hope I make the other team feel good about the way I beat them”. Every strategy and mechanic is used with the goal of giving you time, space, or opportunity.
You pass across the field to catch the goalie out of position, you steal boost so the opponent can’t challenge the ball. If the other team gets caught deep you have no problem shooting into that undefended net. You could fake the goalie so bad that he goes flipping into the corner while you roll the ball slowly into an open net and most people wouldn’t consider it “cheap”. Yet if you were to predict a jumping player and demo him before he makes a save it’s often thought of as “cheap” because you “can’t beat a goalie fairly”.
Players that think like this are playing by their own set of rules. They’re not “playing to win”, they’re playing so they can feel good about their own methods because they have a set of made up values and thus are the “better player”. To some it’s an “honor code”, which is a strange thing to have in a video game. It’s true that it’s okay for them to have such a code for themselves, but they should never be upset or surprised when others don’t follow it.
There are no rules in Rocket League. This isn’t a real sport where cheap and dirty means you are actually physically hurting another person. When playing a competitive video game, deciding one mechanic is lesser than another is limiting yourself in a way that no else is required to adhere to. A well-rounded player makes use of all the available mechanics. This is why you see bump and demo plays at the professional level. No pro ever calls out another for being “cheap” because they took out a goalie.
2. Why Do Demolitions Make People So Mad?
If we look back at the prior question, we can see that some people are playing with their own made up rules. When these rules get violated it is not surprising to see them upset. It could be the realization that they have no way to enforce their rules. It could be the fact that the way you beat them is considered a “low skill” play. These players often haven’t reached the point where they look at their own play and what they did wrong. It’s easier to let themselves off the hook and to say the reason they got beat is because the other player didn’t play “right”. Instead of being angry at themselves they can be angry with the person who demo’d them.
Another thing about demos that gets people worked up is the fact that they are jarring. Nobody likes being demo’d, even me. The removal from play for 3 seconds can make you feel helpless. I could try to defend why it’s balanced and how demos are high-risk, high-reward, easier to dodge one than get one, etc. But I think the simplest way to look at is this is way they were designed. You don’t have to like it but you do have to accept it. It has been the same way since the launch of the game. RL has a huge mental element, don’t give that edge to your opponent because you can’t handle a certain game mechanic.
3. Are Demos Broken?
A complicated question and a common complaint. The simple answer is yes, but not in the way most people think.
Now demos have been “broken” in the past. During the summer of 2017 there were many complaints of demo “fails”. Psyonix found that the angle calculation was not working properly and “fixed” it. This began what some of us refer to as “easy demo month”. You could blow someone up just by rubbing them as the angle calculations now seemed to be broken the opposite way. In October 2017 the glitch was finally fixed and things were good for awhile…until recently when reddit user u/horaryhellfire2 realized that the angles were broken again.
In the following gif you can see me demonstrating the problem. The angle requirement of the demolition mechanic is intended to prevent glancing blows from causing demos. Currently the allowable angle seems to be a lot wider than advertised. Pysonix did respond to the thread, but so far no fix has been announced.
So yes, demos are technically broken, but so that they are easier not harder. I for one don’t see the wider angles to be that much of a problem (it’s not as drastic as easy demo month) but if they intend to keep them this way, I believe Psyonix needs to release the updated “rules” so at least we know.
On the other hand, most demo fails(“How was that not a demo? PSYONIX PLEASE!”) can be blamed on not understanding the rules for a demolition, ping or server issues, and client-side prediction corrections.
4. Do Demolitions Take Skill?
People like to say that driving into another car takes no skill, and when you state it like that it does sound pretty simple. But you need to remember that demos only happen at high speed. Also, your target is often moving. And on top of that your opponent is controlled by a human that is usually trying to avoid you. Cars are smaller than a ball and don’t follow predictable paths. If hitting a ball with your car is considered a skill, then demolitions must involve at least some skill. As you rank up demos become harder as players have better awareness, faster reaction time, and spend more time in the air. Higher levels also see less salt or complaints when it comes to demo-plays because players there understand the need to use all mechanics and they play to win.
In reality anyone can run around and get a few demos. The real skill is understanding the right time and place to use a demo play. Demolitions that are useful to your team, don’t put you out of position, and don’t waste boost is what separates the skilled physical player from the mindless demo-chaser. Demolitions can clear the way for your pass (see above), remove an attacking player in your zone, or just be part of your rotation out after a play.
Don’t forget that situational awareness is a skill too. If you get demo’d one could argue that your own lack of skill is really to blame. Demolitions are easier to dodge than get. In fact, a demo attempt by the average Rocket League player is usually very easy to avoid. The reason? Most players are not very good at implementing this so-called “no-skill” play.
These questions have been answered with a mix of fact (demos aren’t cheats, are technically broken, require some skill) and my own personal opinions (demo aren’t cheap, are balanced, new angle calculations are not game-breaking). If you agree with everything I said that’s great! You’re part of the reason the RL community has matured and started embracing physical play over the last couple years. If you don’t agree, well no one can force you to use the mechanic or even like it. But you need to understand that demolitions have been a part of a game since day one and will not be going away.
If you are a player that gets tilted or easily angered by demolitions it’s on you to figure it out. Your success and even the ability to enjoy this game will eventually require you to find some way to accept or at least deal with this controversial mechanic. While I do promote the use of demolitions as part of a player’s skillset, I also am here to help with avoidance techniques. If you want to work on your dodging skills, I invite you check out my first demolition avoidance tutorial.