A Whole Lot Of Falling
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout takes the best elements of game shows like Wipeout and Takeshi’s Castle and blends them together to create a bombastic, colourful battle royale. There’s an undeniable charm with this and part of that comes from simple but effective gameplay loop to keep you hooked for a long time.
With an array of cosmetic items to dress your character in and developers Mediatonic promising more stages to be added in coming updates, Fall Guys could prove to be one of the must-play battle royales of the year.
Fall Guys splits its content across five rounds, with 60 players competing together online to navigate across various obstacle courses. The first round is by far the most frantic, with levels ranging from tricky see-saws, jumping through a variety of real or fake doors or even jumping across spinning platforms. Adding to the tension is a handy tracker at the top of the screen showing how may Fall guys are needed to progress to the next round. Usually this first round whittles it down to around 42-44.
The rest of the rounds then mix things up slightly with some team games, tests of memory and even rounds that put your jumping skills to the test.
The aforementioned team games are a simple but effective way to whittle down competitors quickly. Quite simply, whichever team the winning Fall Guys are on, proceeds to the next round. The losers meanwhile, take a tumble and are eliminated.
These rounds continue on with a random level selector between each stage acting as a cleverly disguised loading screen. The finale generally takes place with 10 or so players left in a nail-biting, winner-takes-all bout.
Eliminations occur thick and fast here and each of the rounds are designed in such a way that few people will be able to dominate for long stretches of time.
If you manage to survive against 59 other competitors, you’ll receive a crown for their troubles which can be used to kit your Fall Guy out with rare cosmetic gear.
This acts as the “premium” currency in the game with each round clocking up an accumulative amount of “kudos” currency, which is the Fall Guys’ equivalent of standard coins. These can then be exchanged for more common cosmetic items. As expected, these can also be bought from the Playstation Store with real money.
The cosmetics rotate every 24 hours so if there’s something there that’s not quite to your fancy, it’s worth returning in a few days to see if something else piques your interest.
Finishing the first round nabs you anywhere between 15 and 60 kudos (depending on the length of round and how far through you managed to get) while items to buy are generally valued at around 2000+. Of course, progressing further through the rounds or making it near the end will net you a lot more – ranging from 450 kudos upwards. There is a fair amount of grinding needed to get there but a handy level-up system peppers in rewards along the way to incentivize you to keep playing.
This leveling system works on a simple scale of progression with the amount of kudos joined by a standard XP meter. Each level milestone bags you a different reward ranging from crowns (at levels 5, 20 and 32 respectfully) along with various cosmetic skins, emotes and colours.
Given this is only season 1, I’d imagine these will be rotated out for different rewards next time so it’ll be interesting to see what the developers have planned going forward.
As you start to get a feel for the different rounds, certain strategies will naturally seem to work quite well. I found waiting on the fringes while others jumped into fake doors helped me suss out which ones to go through. Other times, I found hiding in the corner with my fox tail behind obstacles helped avoid detection. Of course, given the unpredictable nature of battle royales no two rounds play out the same and I’d imagine players will come up with all sorts of inventive strategies to make it to the end.
The controls are simple enough and the splash screens when you first load the game up are actually enough to get a feel for how the game plays. You’ve got your standard jump, R2 for grabbing other players and certain items during rounds and even a dive button for photo-finishes across the finish line. If there’s one gripe here though it comes from the camera which is incredibly sensitive and swings all over the place. It’s not a deal breaker though but it is worth bearing in mind.
As many may be aware, launch day was burdened with server issues but these were rectified late last night and are now running smoothly with barely a hiccup at the time of writing.
Given the game is actually free this month on Playstation Plus, it’s very easy to jump into different sessions if you’re eliminated. How that looks going forward though when things settle down and the initial buzz wears off remains to be seen. Given the accessibility and simplicity of this one, Fall Guys feels like a battle royale that’s here for the long-haul.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is essentially the Wii Sports version of battle royale games. It’s incredibly accessible, the bright visuals and simple aesthetic are pleasing and all of this combines with a quirky (and ever-so-slightly repetitive) soundtrack that feeds into the lighthearted game-show feel.
Fall Guys is a wonderful summer scorcher and one of the more unique and inventive offerings in this crowded battle royale space.
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Verdict - 8.5/10