There are some games on the market dedicated to telling literary masterpieces, others which attempt to frazzle the mind with complex challenges, and others which encourage a sense of exploration and adventure through open-world experiences. But not all games need to go down those routes, and sometimes it is the independently-developed games involving a simple idea which brings unbridled chaos to its players which stand out from the crowd. Developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout takes the chaotic nature of physical challenges in TV shows such as Wipeout! or Takeshi’s Castle and adds a battle royale element to them.
As someone who is not great at first or third-person shooters, battle royale games have not appealed to me in the past. But replacing the weapons with platforming mechanics and putting everyone in much tighter confines, what we have here could be the next big hit of gaming.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is very easy to jump into. The moment you make it to the main menu screen, you are just a button press away from jumping into the game. Convoluted menus? Requirements to create a character? Choose a weapon set? None of these will impede you. Within a few moments, the game will match you with up to 59 other players and start you off on the first of several randomly selected stages to work your way through.
Each session is comprised of multiple rounds, often between 4-5, with each featuring one of the two-dozen or so included games. As each round passes, more and more players will be knocked out, until a final round where the remaining players will either need to clear an elaborate obstacle course in first place or be the last one standing to claim the victors crown. There is a satisfying variety of games on offer, from standard obstacle course races and survival games, to team games such as “Tail Tag” or “Egg Scramble” which is where the chaos truly lies. None of them would be considered particularly hard if you were to play them solo. However, with so many players scrambling to survive until the end at first, and later as better players get more and more desperate to come out on top near the end and may start getting grabby, the challenge remains at an adequate level, if not a little on the tougher side.
A combination of learning how the courses work, risk-taking, and that fickle element known as luck is what makes Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout such an addictive and enjoyable experience. Unlike the first/third-person shooter battle royales where the experience tends to be more skill-based and competitive, anyone who knows how to press a few buttons can jump into the game and have a good time. Whether you are a risk-taker who would gladly risk your place for a chance at being one of the first across the line, or hide away from the pack and let the risk-takers take themselves out… either playstyle is viable. Plus, with the Fall Guys being cartoony, almost plush-toy in design, you don’t need to fret so much about the thought of killing anyone.
The one trend of battle royales that Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout hasn’t taken itself away from is a battle pass and range of cosmetic items rotating in and out an in-game shop. The main currency of the game is “Kudos”, which you receive a little of every time you complete a match or purchasing them with real money separately, and can be traded in for a number of standard cosmetic items. Being the last Fall Guy standing in a match will net you a single crown, which is tradable for more impressive, lucrative items. On the other hand, each match also nets you experience points, contributing to your battle pass rank, which unlocks its own rewards – including the odd crown or two.
While this will surely be rectified over the coming days, the first few days post-launch have been riddled by occasional server errors. Fortunately, it is pretty quick to jump into a new should you encounter this, but having the game drop out mid-way or at the final level does increase the temptation to do a table flip (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻… or suffer momentary frustration.
There is always that feeling with games like this, that they may become prevalent on streaming platforms for a while, then slowly descend into obscurity due to the next flashy game coming along. Especially given Fall Guy: Ultimate Knockout is best played with a full group of 60, keeping players engaged through updates and promotions will, in my opinion, be key to its success going forward. The decision to make the game freely available this month via PlayStation Plus was a sound decision in boosting numbers. Hopefully, post-launch content continues to encourage players to boot the game up weeks and months from now. I for one would welcome a “TV Mode”, allowing you to save rounds and then play it back a la Mario Kart 8 style.
With many of us trapped in our homes right now, reliant on activities such as video gaming to keep our minds active and entertained, Fall Guy: Ultimate Knockout is a reasonably affordable and entertaining in both short bursts and the long-haul. With the zaniness of similar television shows combined with the absurdity of 60 players tackling challenges simultaneously, I can see this being part of my ‘help me unwind’ gaming collection for months to come.
From MediaTonic and Devolver Digital, Fall Guy: Ultimate Knockout is now available to purchase on the PlayStation 4 (PlayStation Store) and PC (Steam)