In first-person shooter games, rocket jumping is the technique of using the explosion of an explosive weapon, most often a rocket launcher, to launch the shooter. The aim of this technique is to reach heights and distances that standard character movement cannot achieve. Although the origin of rocket jumping is unclear, its usage was popularized by Quake.
Rocket jumping is used often in competitive play, where it can allow the player to gain quick bursts of speed, reach normally unobtainable heights, secure positional advantages, or in speedrunning. However, a potential consequence of rocket jumping is that it can injure the player, either from the blast or from fall damage. This effect makes the technique less useful in games where the damage from the blast and/or fall is high, or where health is difficult to replenish. Rocket jumping from standing is impractical in real life, and would be certainly fatal if attempted. However, ejection seats from an aircraft are, in effect, a combination of a seated rocket jump and a parachute.
In the Quake series
While using explosives to propel oneself was first seen in Doom, the modern technique became a core mechanic in Quake, taking the technique to literal new heights. By exploiting the physics of the Quake engine, many advanced movement techniques were spawned: such as circle jumping, strafing, bunny hopping, and, of course, explosive jumping. Rocket jumping was kept as an intentional mechanic for the leading games in the Quake series. In Quake III: Arena some of the computer-controlled opponents use rocket jumps.
Rocket jumping has appeared in several games in a variety of forms, sometimes as a form of emergent gameplay.
A horizontal form of rocket jumping appears in Doom (1993), where it is used to reach the secret exit in E3M6. (It is possible to reach the exit without rocket jumping, but this technique was the intended method according to John Romero.)
The first games to feature vertical rocket jumping were Bungie's Marathon and 3D Realms' Rise of the Triad (coincidentally, the two games launched on the same day, although the full version of Rise of the Triad came later). It was featured as well the same year on The Outfoxies, an arcade 2D platform versus game released by NAMCO. The character Betty Doe can be seen performing one in the attract mode, so it might be the first time it was depicted as such. Rocket jumping became very popular in the original Quake (1996), and was used as an advanced technique for deathmatch play as well as for the Quake done Quick series.
In the game Team Fortress 2 (2007), players can use the explosive knockback of the Soldier's rockets to rocket jump. Rocket jumping in Team Fortress 2 is a crucial skill required for players playing the Soldier class in high level play, especially to quickly move back to the next map objective after respawning. The Demoman also has sticky bombs and grenades, which can be used to do a similar strategy called sticky jumping. The Soldier and Demoman also have unlockable non-lethal weapons( "Rocket Jumper", "Sticky Jumper") that allow them to rocket jump or sticky jump without taking blast damage. The Pyro class can also do a similar, but limited form of rocket jumping using their "Detonator" or "Scorch Shot" weapons. Pyro's secondary weapon, the Thermal Thruster, is a jetpack that contains 2 charges that can blast the Pyro in a similar manner to a rocket jump. The Pyro can also reflect the Soldier and Demoman's explosives, allowing them to rocket jump too. Lastly, the Engineer can use their Sentry Gun and Wrangler once at level 3, to rocket jump by right clicking while aiming at the ground to fire 4 rockets. Engineer can also use the Gunslinger and Wrangler to do a semi jump with "bullet jumping" as the mini-sentry's bullets damage the player.
In Overwatch (2016), multiple characters have explosive projectiles that can be used to rocket jump.
Rocket jumps are a mechanic in the 2D platformer Butcher (2016).
- A similar technique can often be performed with other explosives, such as grenades, remotely detonated bombs or explosive objects in the level; depending on the game, these might be more, equally or less viable alternatives to rocket jumps.
- Some games offer weapons that knock the user back with their sheer recoil forces. In the Unreal series of games, in addition to traditional rocket jumps, the Impact Hammer and Shield Gun can be charged up for a powerful melee attack that can be aimed at the ground to boost the player. In Half-Life (1998), the tau cannon can be charged for a stronger attack that pushes the user back; in the multiplayer mode of the game, the weapon charges up faster, and the knockback is increased to a point where it can also be directed vertically, allowing players to use this as a form of mobility. In the Halo game franchise, players often use guns such as the Concussion rifle or Frag grenades to launch the player faster or higher for speedrunning purposes, or to reach normally unreachable areas or easter eggs.
- When rocket-launched weapons were added to the battle royale game Fortnite Battle Royale, players discovered that it is possible to ride launched missiles to reach other places that are time-consuming, difficult or impossible to access on foot, provided that the rider safely disembarks at a nearby platform before the missile explodes. This technique, called rocket riding, does not follow the typical definition of rocket jumping (in that it does not leverage the force of a rocket explosion), but can be seen to be related to it in that it inherits its risks.
Outside video games
Rocket jumping has appeared in other media as well.
- In the live-action film Transformers, the character Ironhide performs a rocket jump over a screaming woman after transforming from his truck mode.
- In the film Planet Terror, lead character Cherry Darling uses her false leg, a machine gun with underslung grenade launcher, to rocket jump over a tall wall.
- In the film Tokyo Gore Police, lead character Ruka uses a bazooka to rocket jump to a building's rooftop.
- In Freddie Wong's and Brandon Laatsch's video "The Rocket Jump", the rocket jump is featured as the main part of the YouTube short. This later influenced their channel and studio into being renamed "RocketJump".
- In the episode "The Librarians and the Point of Salvation" of the first season of the 2014 TV series The Librarians, rocket jumping is specifically referred to but done using grenades.
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