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access_time August 28, 2020 at 8:00 AM in Reviews by Josh Boykin

Review | Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

It’s true: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has sold over 7 million copies on Steam. It’s the most downloaded Playstation Plus game ever. And I can admit I’ve spent perhaps far too many hours with the game compared to the number of first-place crowns I’ve attained (I think the answer is two). The Fall Guys hype train has certainly left the station, but it’s not showing any signs of slowing down just yet.

For those out of the know, Fall Guys is a 60-player game where each player controls a slightly-floppy character competing against others on a game show. Challenges range from obstacle courses to team-based competitions, eliminating some players each round. In the final round, only one player can emerge as the winner. Each round’s game has a simple objective, with rounds usually taking just over a couple minutes to complete. I’ve played it both as a lunch break game and for hours on end.

Fall Guys feels like a game specially-crafted for the current societal moment. In a world with a global pandemic, socio/political unrest, and disaster after disaster, Fall Guys provides a somewhat wholesome escape from all that. It’s a bright world filled with cheerful characters, colorful costumes, and perhaps some playful trolling. After each match, players win currency (Kudos) and experience based on their placement. Winnings can be spent on costumes, emotes, and color palette skins. Since the game’s storefront changes daily, there’s always a reason to jump in and play a round or two.

When it comes to the game itself though, the excitement comes from each of the randomly-selected minigames. There are over 20 different minigames, though you may feel them get a bit repetitive. First rounds are madcap foot races, jumping into doors hoping they’re not walls, or running to avoid lollipop-esque wrecking balls that can knock you from a platform. Later rounds can introduce team games. Randomly-sorted players have a set time to grab tails from other players or throw eggs into their own team’s basket. Each team map comes with a healthy dose of antagonism as well. Players can focus on securing points for their team, or sometimes stealing points from others.

Team games can be hit or miss: a great round of Fall Ball (slow Rocket League) or Rock and Roll (teams work together to push a ball to the goal or block opponents) feels electrifying. In contrast, some team games like Team Tail Tag or Hoarders generally feel more like chance and can bring the energy down fast. Luckily, even when you lose, it only takes a couple seconds to hop into a new game.

Fall Guys’ success stems from channeling the energy of battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends. It simply places it in a family-friendly and energetic package. With no shooting to speak of, anyone can pick it up and have a good time regardless of skill level. And with lots of customization options for your character, it’s easy to interject a bit of personality into the play. But with as much as I appreciate about it, I can feel myself starting to fall off of Fall Guys.

Though there’s a bit of variety to the game’s maps, they start to feel a bit repetitive over time. Unlike a shooter, where each location can feel different based on who you’re engaging, races all feel comparatively similar. I also wish I could party up with more than four people. When I end up with a Discord call of more than four, we just started at the same time and hoped we’d get placed on the same server.

Finally, I’d love the ability to create private matches. Playing extended rounds of Fall Ball or the like would help interject some choice and group fun into the mix. Still, I don’t think of these as outright criticisms: the game is only a few weeks old, and they’ve responded to player feedback in the past. They’ve increased the quality of their servers, tweaked team games so they always have even numbers of players, and I’m sure we’ll see more work in the future. For $20, it’s easy to get your money’s worth.

Fall Guys may not be the game that I put 100 hours into, but I’m sure happy with the time I’ve put in. Mediatonic and Devolver Digital took the world a bit by surprise with this one. I only hope there are more surprises in store for this floppy, casual game.

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10

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