Publisher and Developer // Devlolver Digital & Mediatonic
Platforms // PS4, PC
Release Date // August 4th 2020
Reviewed On // PS4
MSRP // $19.99
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review
It could be some time before we are all back together in the same room playing Mario Party. In addition to that, shooters like Fornite and Call of Duty: Warzone might not be for the entire family. This is where Fall Guys steps in. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout finds a way to make ultra-competitive Battle Royle online games enjoyable for everyone. This is a game I would show my parents, my nephews, and nieces. As well as some of the most vulgar people that I know.
Season one kicked off this past week with the game’s launch on Steam and PlayStation Plus. If you subscribe to PlayStation Plus, you must give this game a chance. For those of you unsure about diving in we got you covered. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout takes a leap at some of the most popular games out right now. With live services online games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fornite becoming cultural mainstays, Fall Guys aims high. We don’t know where it will eventually land, but we have spent three weeks with the game and we can confidently say the future is bright.
Let’s Get Ready To Stumble
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout combines the tense mini-games of Mario Party and a 60 person online only elimination system. The game currently sits at 24 different mini-games. Although this is going to expand over time, (there is a new one going live on August 13th, in fact). There is a good variety to choose from. One of the levels is similar to the Aggro Crag from the Nickelodeon TV show, Guts. Another level reminds me of something from TV shows like American Ninja Warrior or Takeshi’s Castle. Some of the more competitive levels are like massive games of tag or Rocket League style soccer matches. Some of these mini-games are races, some are team-based and others are head to head with the field. The number of options is truly outstanding and keeps the game from feeling stale.
How to Play
The gameplay is simple. You press Start to play when the game launches. The X button is used to jump, Square to dive, and the R trigger is to grab. That’s it. When you join a new match you are thrown in with 59 other players. Many of the earlier matches are simple, tone-setting races through obstacles. If you place in the top 50% you get to move on to the next round. This goes on until the fifth round where it’s you against a small handful of others for the crown.
Unfortunately, there is no split-screen couch co-op, which is a real bummer for people wanting that local fix. However, if you are willing to pass the controller the games are super fun and move quickly. One of its great accomplishments is its ability to get you in and out quickly. This is something you can play for 15 minutes or for five hours.
Live Service Guys
Winning events gives you the reward of the almighty crown. Crowns can be exchanged in the shop for new costumes, emotes, and colors. New gear and emotes can also be acquired through points,which you earn for just playing the game. This economy of the more you play the more you earn incentives to keep playing even if you don’t win. Points can also be bought online with real money but this will never impact your game. The team at Mediatonic did a great job balancing the economy. Every day there are updates to the store. This accompanies a countdown to what’s leaving. Playing well feels rewarding and none of the gear is ridiculously hard to obtain.
One of the things that Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout doesn’t have going for it, is the significant financial backing other games in the genre receive. Even though the game’s developer, Mediatonic employs about 230 people, they are split between other projects the studio is working on. So you could consider Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout to be a smaller scale Indie game. This did show at launch. It took the team almost a week to get the servers stable to play for an entire night without an issue. I still often find myself having to try to connect twice before I get into a game.
These blips are extremely brief and only happen when joining a game. It will be interesting to see if the player base grows, and they continue to have problems or if the team grows and things start to stabilize. I did not experience these issues when playing on Steam although other players have. In addition to that, the framerates on PC are stable. I had no problem playing in 4K at 144FPS. However, I frequently run into very small amounts of jitter (server lag) on the PS4 Pro where it runs at 60FPS.
Sights and Sounds
Another concern I have for the game is its ultra-bright color direction. The team has picked a fun art style but one that is visually demanding. Over long periods of time, you can almost start to feel burnt out by the bright pinks, yellows, and blues. While this is a fresh feeling for PlayStation users, it will turn some people off right away. Although, members of the disabled gaming community have been outspoken about how the game runs for colorblind people or people with vision impairments. I did not find the bright colors to be a dealbreaker.
The game does have a soundtrack that beautifully pairs with the gameplay and art direction. Jukio Kallio, the game’s composer, hits it out of the park again. His previous award-winning work on Minit and Nuclear Throne continues on here. The music picks up as some of the mini-games become more intense, the menu music is fun and catchy. There is a lot to enjoy here with the music.
I’ll Tumble For Ya
Ultimately Fall Guys finds a way to make competitive and casual gamers alike enjoy the game. The level design and degree of difficulty makes it so that anyone can win any round. What Mediatonic has here is an unbelievable formula for balance. The only thing I can compare it to is Mario Party. Every time you turn the game on you feel like you have a chance to win. This opens the doors for new gamers to enter the online battle culture phenomenon.
For me, I always found that each round of Fall Guys I played had one of these “epic moments” streamers strive for. Moments like last-second wins, jumping and missing the crown, even moments of massive blunder are funny. There is something about the goofy charm in Fall Guys with thoughtfully designed levels that makes even losing OK. How they were able to make these moments so frequent is like lightning in a bottle.
We spoke to the team back at PAX East earlier this year; they are not married to a single platform or console. Despite the game’s exclusive launch on Steam and PlayStation. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout could be something that really takes off and grows. They have gotten off to the right start here with a wonderful fun game that brings a high level of competition to a broad audience. Fall Guys truly is a game for everyone. That’s of course unless you are bothered by bright lights or have high response times on your home internet. If you have PlayStation Plus, give it a shot, it will cost you nothing through August. If you are a PC user on the fence. Check it out over on Steam. Where Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has become one of the most popular games on the planet.