Players control a rocket-powered car and use it to hit a ball that is much larger than the cars towards the other team's goal area to score goals, in a way that resembles a soccer game, with elements reminiscent of a demolition derby.
Players' cars have the ability to jump to hit the ball while in mid-air. The players can also pick up a speed boost by passing their cars over marked spaces on the field, enabling them to quickly cross the field, use the added momentum to hit the ball, or ram into another player's car to destroy it; in the latter case, the destroyed car respawns moments later. A player may also use a boost when in the air to propel themselves forward in flight, allowing players to hit the ball in the air. Players can also perform quick dodges, causing their car to do a short jump and spin in a given direction, which can be used to nudge the ball or gain positioning advantage over the other team.
Matches are typically five minutes long, with a sudden death overtime if the game is tied at that point. Matches can be played from between one-on-one up to four-on-four players, as well as casual and ranked. Rocket League also includes a competitive ranked online mode, where players compete in various tiered ranks within game seasons, with victories or losses raising or lowering a player's rank, respectively. The game includes a single-player "season" mode, with the player competing with computer-controlled players.