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Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout review for PS4, PC


Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Mediatonic
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards
ESRB: T

Battle Royale (2000) was a Japanese movie featuring comedian/director Beat Takeshi. It was about competition that pitted school kids in a fight to the death where only one survived and Takeshi played a school teacher whose former class was partaking in competition. Takeshi incidentally hosted a TV show in the late ’80s called Takeshi’s Castle where he portrayed the lord of a castle, who beckoned challengers to take his castle. So why did I dedicate nearly a paragraph to 2 random works of Beat Takeshi? It’s because Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a distillation of those two works in video game form. A battle royale where the challenges are wacky and zany rather than violent and deadly.

Mediatonic is a studio that has been around for nearly 15 years, usually doing web games (remember those?) and their biggest title prior to this one was a visual novel where you date pigeons (Hatoful Boyfriend…cause no one counts Gears POP). Given the opening week their latest original title, Fall Guys have had, this studio is about to become the Fall Guys…guys.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is an online battle royale game. Each session consists of up to 5 rounds of random mini games, with each round eliminating players until one player remains. Up to 60 players can take part in an “episode” (the premise is the sessions are an episode of a fictional TV show…one that I would totally watch). Unlike other titles in the genre the action is more slapstick and family friendly, so it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Mini-games consist of varying races, survival games where players that are knocked off the platform are eliminated and team games where temporary alliances are forged in order to persevere. The final round usually consists of a race to grab a crown at the top of Fall Mountain or literally a last man standing where the tiles beneath your feet disappear the moment you set foot on it.

Winners will earn crowns which is a currency exclusively for…well, winners and all participants will earn Kudos which is also a currency as well as experience. These two types of currency can be used to purchase customizations to give your little jellybean person it’s own personality (and as the launch week progressed, my opponents have definitely been a wide variety of colorful characters). Experience earned will go towards a battle pass-ish progression path where each level will award some sort of currency or customization. The battle pass caps out at lvl 40 and will reset when the season ends (Which appears to be around 2 months, season 1 ends on 10/5/2020).

The 25 events are very “Othello” like in the sense they are easy to learn, hard to master. I can say there are certain events where I “know” what I need to do, but much like life sometimes the best laid plans go awry. There are also events which will cause an audible groan when they come up (I’m looking at you slime climb!). Team events are also not a favorite around these parts as there are times your elimination feels like it is due to the incompetence of those you were being saddled with. Although a guest of Alannah Pearce’s Beirut charity stream opined that the team games was a means to level the playing field, allowing weaker players easier passage to later rounds, as well as preventing the domination of more skilled players. With that logic present, the sting of being eliminated in such games is definitely lessened. Also it doesn’t hurt that you can easily get back into the game by quitting out. Despite initial server issues, joining games is usually a snappy affair, thus it will be a rare sight to see your fall guy plummet perpetually.

Upon my first look at this title at PAX East 2020, one of the things that drew concern was what would happen if the player base was not there (as the title was solely online multiplayer with absolutely no single player modes). I don’t recall getting a straight answer on the showfloor, but Mediatonic pulled off a masterful move by aligning with Sony and making the game debut on PlayStation Plus, enabling any member of the service to potentially own the title if they redeem it in the month of August 2020. Although there is a huge rush of players looking to grab the crown, eventually those who never get that first taste of victory will drop off or just get bored of the game’s current 25 events, Mediatonic hopes to mitigate fatigue by gradually introducing new events and cosmetics to the title.

The existence of Fall Guys is a boon for those who wish to partake in the battle royale craze, but lack the dexterity and fast reflexes a shooter requires. The highs are high and the lows are low. Games flow pretty quickly and there’s definitely a playerbase for the title for now. Let’s hope Mediatonic will develop more features such as new events, the ability to create private lobbies, crossplay and make it available on platforms it didn’t launch on. If this first week is any indication, we’re in for a lot of Fall Guys this Fall, guys!

Devolver Digital provided us with a Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout PC/PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A