There was a lot of hype for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout before release. A lot of people viewed it as an interesting take on the recent battle royale phenomenon, with others seeing it as a charming indie experience. With the news it would be offered on release with PlayStation Plus, it certainly earned a lot more interest, and now that it has finally released and countless people have given it a go, is it worth giving a try or is there a reason it started free on some platforms?
The easiest way to understand Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is to think of those whacky gameshows, things like Cannonball or Wipeout, and trying to make it a legitimate game. There is a general sense of, oh, I could do that, even if it is much harder than it looks. Though, the real strength to this experience is the simplistic and party game mechanics that make the game interesting.
Unless you’re in the lead or very few people are still playing, being stuck with all the bulk of players is reminiscent of how Mario Kart feels. Generally speaking, first and maybe second place will have a decent lead, with everyone else fighting for the remaining spots. When you’re winning it really comes down to keeping your lead, whereas everyone else is just trying to catch up and in many cases makes winning easier for the leader. Here, matches generally start with a pretty straightforward race.
And, even if you can do it blindfolded, assuming no one else is playing, most of the experience comes from the mad dash to progress to the next round. Success hinges on correctly estimating the time it takes to move to the next obstacle, something that will likely become a huge stopping point for less skilled players, and getting away from the pack. I’ve messed up more obstacles from other players pushing me or messing up their timing and it negatively impacts me, than an actual lack of skill. As a result, you can actually be a really good player and lose or be a rather poor one and win, assuming you have the minimum skill required to complete the objective.
Every event uses some version of this line of thinking, with a lot of them hinging on hoping choices favor you. Sometimes you might get a team-based objective where you roll a ball, you get there first and now someone decided blue team is going to lose and they’re delayed just enough to get eliminated. Other events, like slime race, often result in mass elimination from poor plays and don’t get me started on how hit and miss the tail grab event can be.
While this makes up really the core experience of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, in that you do tedious obstacles and hope other people don’t cause you to lose or you make a careless mistake, it’s very much so the subject of passing interest. It makes sense that something like this would attempt to build a fanbase and then attempt to get more sales or convert people into being new followers, at least on PlayStation, though it’s impossible to say how much longevity that will buy.
Games tend to be based off ratios, meaning it might be possible to match with up to 60 players, but the number of people who keep playing that match is a percent of said players. When you match with fewer players, said number decreases and it makes it harder to progress. Right now I seem to be averaging matches where roughly 40 people progress, meaning only 20 or so people lose initially but this will likely get worse with time unless Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout maintains interest or matches are delayed until the right number of players are found. My concern is less with the dwindling size, as much as the same core issue fighting games have long term.
There is no better time to play a fighting game than release or a major update. There are tons of players, many of which are unskilled, and less active players have a chance. The idea of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout being an elite game that caters to a small percent of players might seem comical but it could easily happen if the fanbase dwindles. Still, this is mostly a concern if you’re not the most skilled and rely on the accessibility over really playing to the game’s strengths or using smart plays to boost yourself ahead of the pack.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review – Verdict
Games like Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is hard to review. Some people will tell you skill makes little to no difference, something I’d probably agree with for the most part, and the unpredictable elements can be annoying, yet it still manages to be engaging. I think a lot of this has less to do with the mechanics and really relies on the unpredictable nature of the experience. I constantly lose and rarely do I feel like I am at fault and that’s fine. There are going to be people who win and lose based on luck and that makes it easier to accept an inadequate performance. Plus, it allows less active or gifted players a chance to really come out ahead. It will be interesting to see how long Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout can keep this going but I suspect you’ll be able to at least get your fill over the next couple of months regardless of more games or deeper elements ultimately becoming a requirement to win.
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