Fall Guys Beta Preview: I Think I'm Falling for You
Fall Guys takes the sugary sweetness of a bag of Skittles and mixes it in with the brutal competition of The Hunger Games. There can only be one winner, and no matter how many layers of color and charm you drench the game in, it can get brutal.
The basic premise of Fall Guys is a mixture of the popular game show Takeshi’s Castle and the ever-expanding battle royale formula. By now, the genre has received many iterations — with some better than others — and the idea feels as though it’s reaching the pinnacle of what can be achieved.
The recent technical beta gave insight into how the full experience will pan out, with online multiplayer also being stress tested. Ultimately, it appears that Fall Guys is proving to create a solid foundation with room for improvement as it continues to grow.
Fall Guys takes the battle royale concept and completely removes weapons, pick-ups, and loadouts. Instead, 60 players race to be the last man standing, which is determined over several rounds that are a mixture of solo and team-based gameplay.
By the end of every round, numerous players are disqualified by either being left behind or thrown off the map. Others are on the team with the lowest points for that round.
Solo levels are primarily based around tackling daunting ventures across elaborate traps. See-saws lean under the weight of players, pendulums swing across bridges to throw off players. Some levels and traps work better than others, but the physics-based controls ensure players don’t get too comfortable in any one level.
With 59 other players competing for victory, sections often seem like a sea of mindless zombies as characters dressed as pigeons and bears scramble over one another to reach the next platform. During my time with the beta, the sight never got old; being thrown down and overwhelmed by a wave of players is both terrifying and hilarious.
As the stages advance, team-based modes are thrown into the mix to disqualify a group of players at once. While these modes create delightful distractions, they can quickly become frustrating as you must rely on your team to survive.
Team events range from rolling a ball through an obstacle course to a game of tag. During the beta, players were quickly starting to think outside of the box in these situations (for example, teams blocking your ball as it rolls down a hill instead of tending to their own). It’s a great use of creativity, but getting placed in the right team feels based solely on luck instead of pure skill.
Completing matches rewards you with experience and, in turn, gifts new cosmetic items to wear. Many of these can be purchased via microtransactions, though, the developers remain adamant that these payment schemes will be used for cosmetics only. There are seemingly no unlocks for abilities or enhancements, and I hope Fall Guys follows that trend.
Controlling your character in Fall Guys is very similar to other physics-based games such as Gang Beasts. Controls manage to be both floaty and weighty at the same time. Intentionally, the characters don't have the pitch-perfect fidelity of a Mario-style platformer, but that further adds to the hilarity that plays out across its numerous stages.
Controls are fairly simple and don’t require much input outside of running and jumping. A dive move can be utilized to stretch a jump out a touch longer, and you can grab other players, too. However, the grab mechanic feels fairly redundant right now; not only does it stop an opponent from proceeding, but it stops you from proceeding as well!
In fact, the move encourages players to purposely wait by the end of the stage, grab you, and attempt to drag you away. Not cool.
The full game will come with 25 stages, and my main concern is how long they will engage players. Throughout the beta, some of the same stages came up fairly consistently, while others only appeared once or twice. While that is fine for a beta, the main game will need to do a better job of shuffling the stages, and, for an audience to stick around, a roadmap for the future must be laid out.
It’s super refreshing to jump into a battle royale that isn’t bulging with players camping in every orifice available, one that instead promotes some good-natured fun. Fall Guys has the building blocks for something special, and I truly hope developer Mediatonic uses the framework they currently have to improve the formula and create something special.
Outside of a few long wait times for matches, the beta was almost flawless. Lag was nonexistent, and the game ran at a smooth and polished 60fps. Graphically, Fall Guys showed it wasn't a powerhouse, but its art style still creates an eye-pleasing display. With numerous game showcases unveiling upcoming titles mostly soaked in dark ambiance, it’s sweet that Fall Guys doesn’t rely on moodiness to capture an audience.
Fall Guys could be the start of something special. I just hope it stays supported.