This guide is meant for advanced players who understand the basic principles of the game, have satisfactory knowledge of the car and its controls and possess the sufficient skills in boost management, ball control and related basics and mechanics.
Map awareness as a term is broad; it can translate to multiple different things for other players. This guide classifies and breaks map awareness down to following categories: Ball awareness, awareness of other players, current and future situational awareness and discusses them on a vague level. The purpose of this guide is to provide food of thought for players on how to improve their map awareness, as the author estimates such skill cannot be molded into 101 guide for dummies.
Written guides for other aspects of the game (ex. boost management Edit: Boost management guide is out: http://psyonix.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=17492) will follow later. Feedback and criticism is welcome, as this is my first guide written to Rocket League I may have made the error of assuming the reader is capable of following my statements, taking some parts for granted.
Reddit link: https://www.reddit.com/r/RocketLeague/c ... awareness/
Getting Started, Ball awareness
The first fundamental aspect of map awareness is understanding where the ball is currently and where it will travel, and assessing the situation regarding what happens to the ball next. Now, assuming you’ll have a clear image of the balls position, speed and its travel line for minimum of 3 seconds in advance if we remove the factor of anyone touching the ball while it travels, one understands the basic concept of ball awareness. Essentially, if broken down to level, player knows and is capable of assuming a correct position on the map prior hand in order to perform actions demanded for the situation.
This is the simplest form of map awareness and typically something one masters during time, and does not require additional effort in learning. In case you have trouble predicting the balls travel lines, especially regarding the bounces, here are few tools and tips that simplify the process and may assist you in learning the basics:
The ball does not possess a magnus effect, it never changes its direction on x-axis in the air, few odd bounces caused by the ball colliding with an object may cause the ball to swerve from its original direction slightly, but unless the ball bounces repeatedly on the ground you can be relatively confident of its current travel line. In addition, the ball follows straight-forward “fake” physics, but you can use real life ball behavior as a basis, depending on the speed and the angle of the shot it is not difficult to predict its travel line. In case you have difficult time with the corners and the walls, try heading to freeplay-mode and take powershots to the walls. Just observe where the ball is, and attempt to paint an image in your head where it will travel, if the image painted does not at least semi-accurately match the reality, keep throwing it on walls from angles, positions and speeds you have difficult time predicting it, as it’s merely a game of prediction, and in case your subconscious is incapable of predicting where its headed after multiple hours played, it means you have not paid enough attention to it. After time you personally find to be enough, head for the real games and pay attention to the ball. Consciously draw the image of the balls travel line in your head whilst the game is on-going. This may hurt your gameplay and cause unnecessary distraction at first, but later on once you feel confident you no longer need to do so, it’s more than likely it’ll come out of your spine and you have learned the basics of ball awareness, which will now naturally improve during time.
First step towards clarity, player awareness
Player awareness is one of the fundamental tools that separates the most skilled players from others. The capability to see and predict not only the ball on the field, but other players, their positions and current momentum is equally important.
The basic form is to know the locations of the players on the map, this can only be learned through observation; if you do not pay attention to their positions at the start, you’ll never subconsciously use that to your advantage in your play. As Rocket League is a fast-paced game of momentum, knowing the location of each player on the map needs to be something that comes to you automatically, as a player will not have the time to put any effort of thought to it during gameplay. However, in order to master player awareness you have to start from scratch:
Forget the ball, you should at this point know where it’s headed if it remains untouched, you should be capable of hitting a desired result in case you go for the ball, you no longer should be forced to pay constant attention to it. Now, making difficult shots typically does require extreme precision that comes from the focus, but we are going to start with the basic timing of player awareness. There are brief or longer windows of opportunity to check the map. At first you’ll have to pay attention to the following things:
Location of all players on the map and the directions of their cars (which way is the car’s front) and their current momentum (is the car standing still, driving and if so at which speed). In case you are struggling with this, try adding swiveling the camera to your arsenal and take advantage of the rear-view button (it is advisable to re-bind it to somewhere for easier access, as example L1).
The windows of opportunity come when there is no one touching the ball at the current moment, so the ball does not require your immediate attention. Now, you should be capable of quickly assess the situation consciously where all the players are, their directions and momentum, and answer the following question: Who is in position and momentum wise most likely to reach the ball first? We will analyze the result of this question in situational awareness part of the guide, but first we’ll focus on the subject at hand: It is crucial for the sake of teamplay and predicting the games overall momentum that you are completely aware of who hits the ball next. Mastering player awareness comes in steps, you cannot learn it as a complete image at once, so at first pay attention to that single detail, once you feel confident you can answer the question correctly majority of the time, move forward with the guide.
Once it becomes a reflex for you to take occasional glance at the map to tell yourself the locations of the players, their directions and momentum you can become confident regarding your basic player awareness. The advanced form is predicting player behavior and where they will be in brief amount of time based on their positions, momentum and directions of their cars. At which stage player awareness becomes more of a social science; there is no absolute definite truth, and mistakes in prediction will happen often. This will be discussed more on later stage.
In the advanced form of player awareness, you are capable of predicting somewhat the next move of all the players around you, assisting you in deciding your next move: in either positioning yourself correctly, grabbing more boost or any action that prepares you for what is to happen next, assuming you will not be the one heading for the ball. If you are headed for the ball, player awareness will assist you in making choices; Where you’ll want the ball to travel, can you make a pass or do you have an open shot at the goal, is someone challenging your play or were you not about to go for the ball but notice the other players skipping the opportunity to head for the ball, or will they go for the ball regardless, positioning themselves to intercept your move in the near future. Player awareness improves during time, as the current “meta” possesses a rather standard and predictable forms of play. The rotations and positioning are relatively standard, and if somebody breaks from the mold it is easier to figure out the player’s plans in case you are completely aware of the player’s location, direction and momentum.
Naturally, this is on theoretical level, but it will assist you in gaining the tools to be used in practice. Mastering player awareness comes when you know where the players are on the field and where they’ll head next without giving it a second thought. You can use this to your advantage in every situation of the game.
Current and future situational awareness
As a break down current situational awareness focuses on current situation and what happens at the next ball touch and is used to prepare yourself for that, whilst future situational awareness is used to provide you with clues on what happens in the near future based on map awareness.
When you possess confident level of ball and player awareness, you can start honing the image of complete map awareness. It starts from the current situational awareness, you can estimate with precision who has the ball first, and are capable of using that your advantage in positioning yourself correctly. Good example is blocking opponents shot: You’ll know the timing of when he’ll land a hit on the ball, based on his direction towards the ball you are capable of moving yourself into correct position for the block (you estimate the balls travel line), and judging from the opponents speed you can predict the timing for a successful block. The further you can estimate the situation, the further away from the ball you can perform a successful block.
Current situational awareness is a tool that paints you a complete image of what is happening in the game currently, and helps you adjust your game to predict the upcoming events (provides the necessary tools for future situational awareness). It does not provide you with accurate view of the future, but it gives you a basis and a clear image of what might happen next.
In simplified form, what happens next in the game is based on who touches the ball next; in which point you’ll have to predict the outcome of the current situation and take action accordingly. This statement is left vague because of the amount of options for a ball touch is next to limitless; But estimating what will happen next is much more simple when you know what absolutely cannot happen next, in addition it prepares you for upcoming events and you will not be caught off-guard.
Future situational awareness comes from judging players actions based on the three basics of player awareness (positioning, direction and momentum) and predicting their intentions in a simplified form. Good example is that you are at the goal, one of the opponents is on defensive position on their side, one of their players is going for the ball near the corner of your side, but the third player is driving towards your goal with supersonic speed. From such behavior you can assume he’ll more than likely head for a demolish, and if that is the case you’ll have plenty of time to avoid his attempt.
With simplified form, you can assess the situation and predict outcome of the next ball play, allowing you to position yourself accordingly even prior to the ball touch, preparing for what happens next. This does not mean that you necessarily take action prior to the first ball play, unless the situation allows it (ex. your team mate has the ball and you position yourself for a pass). But for example if you move to a position to intercept a pass before the pass is actually made, you can be certain that any skilled player does not just hand the ball over to you by making that pass anymore. Rule of the thumb is to assume that all players in higher levels of play are aware of each other’s positions and they all attempt to predict the game at least subconsciously to some level, and future situational awareness is the tool to use against them; perform a play that is outside their radar of predictions.
Future situational awareness can be used in planning your next move, example minimizing the downtime in your boost management. For example you see someone grab a boost capsule in your teams left corner, quickly glance at the clock, you’ll know the boost capsule will spawn approximately 10 seconds of that moment (this will be discussed in further detail at the boost management guide).
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