Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review — It's Cool Beans
You know the formula for a game is working when death isn’t frustrating but inherently funny. When your character is clambering over 59 other players for survival and fails to make the cut, it’s frustrating but also comical.
Unlike other battle royales on the market, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout doesn’t drop you into a desolate map filled with explosive weapons meant to obliterate your enemies. Instead, it embraces Takeshi-Castle-style challenges to determine who makes it to the next round.
The somewhat silly nature of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is an enticing invitation and one that has already captured thousands of players around the world.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review: It's Cool Beans
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout pits 60 players against each other in a series of physics-based gauntlets. The challenges range from solo races to a finish line to an assortment of team-based activities, such as quirky games of football. There’s always one goal in mind, though: be the last one standing.
As a contestant, you’ll control a blubbering jellybean with the willpower of someone who’s consumed their body weight in alcohol. There are only a few moves at your disposal: jumping, grabbing, and diving. Each is used to gain an advantage over other players across three to five rounds in an attempt to reach the final challenge and secure a crown for your ultimate triumph.
Using over-the-top physics, you can imagine Fall Guys makes this is harder than expected. As each match begins, players clamber over each other in a desperate attempt to get to the head of the pack. It’s chaotic, intense, and hilarious, all in equal measure.
Match sets start with a solo race, tasking players with simply making it from the beginning to the end, with the level ending once a certain number of players have made it over the finish line; the rest are disqualified.
However, it's not as simple as making it from one end to the other.
Many obstacles will block your path, attempting to separate the sea of players surging toward the end. Pendulums swing with pummelling force, platforms rotate in shifting directions, and see-saws seesaw from one extreme to the other. You’ll stare death in the face when a gigantic banana flies toward you at Mach speed.
It’s a fluffy, scruffy battle that never ceases to keep you on the edge of your seat.
When you’re not in these solo rounds, you’ll be pitted against each other in randomly-chosen teams. The aim is to eliminate a wider number of players quickly. Unfortunately, it's these moments that ruin the pacing of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
These rounds can last upwards of a few minutes, though they manage to feel like a lifetime. More problematic is that none of them are particularly fun. With the exception of the game’s take on soccer, which feels like a wibbly wobbly version of Rocket League, these simple team-based tasks, such as collecting the most eggs, hoarding the most balls, or playing a team game of tag, feel unfair.
It no longer matters how well you've done so far in the game's individual challenges. Here, a poorly composed team can mean quick elimination. Having to rely on other players feels counter-intuitive to what the rest of the Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is trying to achieve — and it can be controller-smashingly tedious.
At launch, the game has 25 different levels and the team has promised to deliver more over the coming months. After a few matches, rounds tend to repeat fairly quickly and it’s unclear what direction Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will take over the coming months. I have no doubt that the game will evolve over time, but hopefully, it's a positive evolution that ensures a better balance between its solo and team rounds.
To keep players invested outside of challenges, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has a progression system that employs its own version of a battle pass. Players can unlock different skins, outfits, and emotes using coins and crowns, the latter of which are earned by winning games or achieving certain levels in the battle pass.
As of now, daily outfits are affordable after a few matches, ensuring that players don't have to grind to receive new cosmetic items. It’s refreshing that Fall Guys doesn't feel like it's leaving players behind or locking certain items behind a paywall.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review — The Bottom Line
- Addictive in all the right ways
- Hilarious family entertainment
- A breath of fresh air for the battle royale genre
- Progression feels accessible without being blocked by microtransactions
- Team games ruin the pacing and feel unfair
- Server issues
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout works because it maintains that “one more game” mentality and encourages players to overcome its challenges. It’s cute, bubbly attitude is easy to fall in love with, and even when the game is eye-wateringly frustrating or kicked party members have to be completely re-invited, it still manages to all be in the name of fun.
Despite unbalanced team-match dynamics and pesky server issues (which the developers are ironing out) sometimes interfering with the fun, the simple approach of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout makes these negatives seem meaningless in the long run.
This is not only the game we want in 2020 — but it's the game we need. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a comfort blanket that provides some warm, friendly fun with friends.
[Note: The PlayStation Plus version of Fall Guys was used for this review.]