Every session of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout brings a variety of emotions: excitement, frustration, joy, anger, triumph, and defeat. It can be considered a variation (or possible evolution) of the battle royale genre. While there’s no looting and no gunplay, not everyone will survive. Being a finalist in a Fall Guys lobby can bring out the intense will to win in even the most hardcore gamers. It’s a unique experience that combines pure fun with extreme competitiveness and needs to be played to fully understand the wacky yet gratifying challenge it presents.
“The Greatest Gameshow Ever”
As a contestant in “the greatest game show ever created” you take control of what looks like a mix between a Shy Guy and a Minion and pit yourself against 59 other contestants in a mixture race, survival courses, and team games in a last-man-standing-wins series. Races are reminiscent of popular television game shows like Wipeout or MXC where players will run, jump, and dodge their way towards the finish line in obstacle courses clearly made to make people eat dirt. Survival rounds challenge contestants to do things like stay atop increasingly swift-moving platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. Team games divide players into (mostly) even teams to compete in games like soccer or keep away with the lowest-scoring team being completely eliminated. Each round progressively eliminates more and more players until a final game is staged to compete for the golden crown.
From the infectious main menu music (seriously, the bass player didn’t have to flex on us that hard) to the colorful characters and environments, Fall Guys instantly makes the impression that’s it’s here for players to have fun. With each play session, you earn experience points, “kudos,” and crowns if you’re lucky to be the last one standing. Experience points earn you rewards just as a typical battle pass would, unlocking a new character color, prop, or extra kudos for each level reached. Everything you earn (or purchase) is completely aesthetic, allowing players to customize their contestants to their liking. Multiple customizable colors and props help make each contestant look unique and contributes to the off-the-wall atmosphere the game is clearly going for. Want your contestant’s skin to be blue with pink polka dots? It’s possible. Want to tote a giant wolf head with vicious looking claws? Go for it. “Kudos” are the in-game currency you earn through completing rounds that can be used towards these customizations, while crowns earned from winning matches can be used for the more exclusive stuff. There’s an option to pay real money to get more in-game currency, but for now, it seems like you earn enough from playing the game to keep your contestant looking fresh and new.
Falling Can Be Fun
Luckily, the game is just as fun as it looks too. Loading into a new match of Fall Guys feels like a new opportunity to prove yourself as a worthy contestant. The initial qualifying rounds always feel rewarding, whether you’re the first or last qualifier to cross the finish line. Dodging swinging balls, timing jumps on spinning platforms, and avoiding giant falling fruits hasn’t gotten old in the 12+ hours I’ve played so far. In one particular game, you break through a series of doors in front of you to advance closer to victory. The only stipulation is that some of the doors don’t break. It’s always hilarious to see players jump into a door only to be embarrassingly denied, and even funnier when the match ends in a World War Z style finish with all the contestants falling on each other as they run towards the finish line. Team games are fun for the most part until the game pits you on a team with one less player. It isn’t deal-breaking enough to rage quit but is a frustrating disadvantage when it happens. And some games just aren’t exciting enough, breaking the flow of a session just a little. Most jarringly is “Perfect Match.” It’s a memory game where you need to be standing on the corresponding platform to match the fruit showing on a screen or suffer an eliminating fall to your death. The three-round game does get more difficult towards the end, but there’s enough time to quickly run to the majority of flocking contestants which is typically the best strategy if you forget which platform is which. Because of this, it’s super anticlimactic when you see only a select few contestants eliminated from the lobby. That particular game should definitely be altered in some way to be more difficult, but for now, it’s a minor speedbump in what is a mostly fun group of games.
The only concern I have going forward is the longevity of Fall Guys. As long as new games and cosmetics are added regularly, there will always be some fun to be had when getting into the shoes of these bumbling contestants. A player can experience almost all that the game has to offer in just a few hours, which at first can seem a little disappointing. But the constant rotation of added cosmetics, the pure fun of each match, and the competitive urge to go for another win has kept me coming back for more. As of right now, you can jump into a lobby with 3 other friends that keeps you on the same team given a team game arises and given at least some of your friends are still alive. However, it would be nice to see private lobbies added so that you and some friends could experiment or just mess around with some of your favorite games. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout certainly has ambition and potential to be a huge success for months, maybe even years to come. Because it’s free this month for PS Plus members, there isn’t much of an excuse for PS4 owners to not check this out. So grab your controller, get some friends, and experience the joy of stumbling, fumbling, and falling your way to sweet, sweet victory.