NEW YORK, NY — As I walked up to the Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals Playset at Toy Fair 2018, I couldn't help but be impressed: the video game where cars play soccer, somehow made it out of the virtual worlds and into our tangible reality.
Coming this fall for $179, this kit allows one-on-one match-ups that pit real Hot Wheels cars against each other for the right to claim control of your tabletop.
To build the Rocket League arena in your own home, you assemble its walls on top of a playmat, and snap in goals, which use infrared sensors to track the giant ball that its cars knock in. I hear you wondering, dear reader, "but how will toy cars manage to knock an oversized boulder of a ball into a goal?"
Mattel is one step ahead of the rest of us, and customized the Octane and the Dominus (the pair of cars sold with the Rivals playset) with Bluetooth radios, so they can be controlled from your smartphone (both Android and iOS). This means that you need to charge each car, but these autos offer nimble movement, with both forward and backwards movement, as well as left and right pivots.
That pivot came in handy during our time with the game, as you really need to square up properly in order to score a goal. Hitting the ball an awkward angle, is as easy in real life as it is in the game, leaving some goals going missed, even we eventually scored some points.
Even better, each car has a clip-on clear push bar on the front to catch and push the ball out, hopefully towards the waiting goal. This way, you're not relying on the pure luck of ricocheting the giant ball off the hood of your car.
Rocket League RC Rivals also proves that it's a step above foosball, as each goal fence uses infra-red sensors to detect goals and update the counters above the goal posts for easy score-keeping.
Hopefully, this set will be the smash hit that encourages Hot Wheels and Rocket League to release additional sets of cars so more than two can play at once.