In the shooter heavy crowd of battle royale style video games, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, released on Aug. 4 for PC and PlayStation 4, is a breath of fresh air for the genre. While it’s not without problems, there is a solid base for one of the most fun multiplayer experiences of 2020 here.
Fall Guys is a competition show in the vein of goofy programs like “Wipeout” or “Takeshi’s Castle.” Up to 60 players enter a match and compete in five rounds of minigames, with players getting eliminated each time until there is one remaining.
These minigames consist of racing through obstacle courses made up of whirling fans, moving platforms, memory challenges, escaping rising slime, dodging giant fruit, moving gates that require precise timing and worst of all, see-saws.
Other games include team activities, such as hoarding giant balls, stealing the most eggs from other teams, a classic game of soccer and jumping through hoops.
There are 25 games in total, and most of them are enjoyable. The title definitely needs more games added at a later date to keep it from getting repetitive
However, one thing that never gets old is the presentation of Fall Guys. Each level is wonderfully colorful and vibrant with catchy, energetic music playing throughout. Contestants are these bulbous, Teletubby-looking masses that are cute as a button and will get knocked over by damn near anything.
Characters are customizable in several ways, such as clothing, color schemes, patterns and various emotes. They are really fun to play as, and it never gets old to hear them shout out an enthusiastic “woo!” even when they’re falling to their doom.
Movement is simple, as players can jump, dive and grab hold of objects and ledges. Each action is easy to use but can be frustrating, as your character will flail uncontrollably if hit by another player, hampering your progress and losing you precious seconds.
Additionally, these moves can be used strategically. Want to stall a player’s momentum? Grab them from behind. Somebody carrying an object you want or you just need to get them out of your way? Dive into them. There are probably other tricks to use that I’m still trying to figure out.
Fall Guys uses fame, a milestone progression system similar to Fortnite’s battle pass, in which points are earned at the end of every match and are used to unlock cosmetic items and Kudos, which are the in-game currency.
The other form of currency is the crown. These are obtained by winning an entire show and can be used to buy very rare items from the shop. The shop takes a page from Fortnite’s book, as items rotate every day. Crowns can also be earned through fame point milestones, though it is rare.
Kudos can also be bought with real money, much like V-Bucks. It is disappointing that this game has microtransactions. Though, they aren’t too intrusive, and the game is generous with the amount of Kudos you get from playing matches and hitting milestones.
However, the servers for this game are atrocious. Most games have rocky servers at launch, but this was really annoying. There were a couple of days when I couldn’t get into a game and just saw constant disconnected messages.
Since the first weekend of release, these issues have calmed down a bit, but I still end up getting disconnected in the middle of a round often enough to get frustrated. It’s torture when this happens in the third or fourth round.
The game is also ungodly laggy at times. Tail Tag is a game where some players spawn with tails and those without have to grab them and have a tail before time runs out or be eliminated. You’ve got to get close to other players to grab their tails, but I will always have some guy that’s six feet away from me take my tail in the last 15 seconds and screw me.
It also feels like the jumps have a half-second delay at times, and when Hex-A-Gone, one of the only three finals rounds relies heavily on precision jumping to escape disappearing platforms, you can feel pretty cheated.
Most team games are hit and miss as well. The soccer game, egg collecting and hoop games are fun, but the Team Tail Tag and Hoarders game is draining because of lag and wonky physics.
It also gets to me that team games are so prominent in a battle royale game, as a bad team can knock you out of the competition.
If you go into this game with a competitive mindset, you’re gonna have a poor time. Due to the design, a lot of this game relies on randomness and chance. Your position in the starting line seems to be picked out of random and other players running into you could be the difference between a win and loss in a tight matchup.
It took a while for me to get used to that aspect, but I don’t rage nearly as much as I did when I started. However, I always get a laugh out of the Fall Guys being rag-dolled throughout the arena.
Fall Guys is also barebones when it comes to offline support. There is no offline option where you can play these games locally with some friends and there’s no split-screen mode to enable playing with a buddy on the couch, which seems like a no-brainer to me (Mediatonic has since said they’re working on this for a future update).
The minigame count also needs to be increased over time if this game wants to have a long life. However, Mediatonic is a small developer that was overwhelmed by how successful the game has been. As long as they continue making some quality of life improvements and adding new games, I’ll be happy.
Overall, I would recommend giving Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout a try if you like goofy, Mario Party-style minigames. I’m shocked this kind of game wasn’t made sooner, as the presentation and aesthetic are pleasing, most of the minigames are fun and engaging and if you have a PlayStation Plus membership, it’s one of August’s free games.
While it still needs a lot of work to be a long-lasting elite title in the battle royale genre, I’ve enjoyed most of my time with it and you might as well.