Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is the latest indie sensation, a massive breakout hit from Devolver Digital and Mediatonic that has managed to overtake League of Legends in Twitch views and dominate social media, to the point that there is a literal bidding war (for charity) to get a skin in the game between companies, streamers, and organizations. It’s a fun, silly game that manages to be casually competitive in a way few titles can.
That is not to say though that everything is perfect. As effectively acknowledged in a recent patch that got rid of back-to-back team games and fixed a few other issues, there are still things to smooth out with Fall Guys, and today we’re going to talk about them.
Team Games With Uneven Small Numbers
Fall Guys team games are already a contentious issue, but they seem likely to stay as they are part of the general flow and serve a role similar to Mario Kart’s blue shells as a balancing mechanism to give everyone a chance.
That said, there are situations that a team game should not be called for. Namely, when the game is at 9 or 11 people, games with two teams quickly become a problem because 4 vs 5 or 5 vs 6 is a significant difference—unlike when you have 11 vs 12 or 11 vs 10 vs 10 or other more numerous games. The fewer players there are involved in a game, the more difference a single additional member makes. I will make a note here that professional hockey literally uses losing a player as one of its main penalty mechanisms, as players are forced to sit in the penalty box, giving the other team a power play when they get a 5 vs 4 for a set amount of time.
The most glaring visibility of this issue is perhaps in Fall Ball, where you can easily see the outnumbered team at the beginning, and it almost never goes well for them. Often these become unfun routs with scores like 8-1 as one team is completely unmatched due to the other team having extra players on the court. It only gets worse when you know that some players are quitting apparently when seeing this—one game I saw recently which was a 6 v 7 game saw two members of the six-man team quickly quit the game they saw as unwinnable, turning it into a 4 v 7 mess.
Lackluster Quitter Penalties
That brings us to our second point: There needs to be additional quitting penalties if you quit during a team game. Right now, you lose any Kudos and Fame you would earn, but that doesn’t seem to really substantially stop people from quitting sometimes, as you can see in that Fall Guys Fall Ball image above.
Something like a timeout timer—starting at a five-minute time frame and increasing if a player does it repeatedly—would work well, while also respecting that sometimes people legitimately do have internet issues.
I’m colorblind; I don’t see the red/green spectrum the same as most of you. That means when we get a four-team game, I’m at a disadvantage because of all the colors they could have chosen for the fourth team they chose green (after blue, yellow, and red).
While not that hard to tell apart when given time, in the mess of a match, these colors end up being a problem for me during play, and it can cause some issues. While this may sound like a personal ‘I suck at team tail tag’ plea, it is more that color blindness in some form affects around 5% of the world’s population, and red-green color blindness is the most common form.
This is something that can be treated with a colorblind mode for players ideally, or they can limit the damage by choosing a color that is not green for team 4 (... and not something else that will cause issues like purple).
That’s not the only color issue in Fall Guys though. Some costumes affect color even when being impacted by team colors, and the color choice no longer impacts anything. In particular, there seems to be a pineapple one that significantly lightens a color, and that can cause confusion as a blue player can look more like a yellow one.
Even just looking different there on color is an issue when you are using color as literally the only way to determine who is a teammate and who is not. When the cosmetic is impacting the legibility of the game, it is creating a problem.
Speaking of cosmetics impacting legibility, let’s talk about tail games. I’m not going to talk about desync issues—which exist and need to be improved but there are limits to what can be done there—but instead about tails, and specifically wolf tails.
Tails on characters make it more difficult to identify at a glance who has a tail to score points for your team/stay in the match/win the crown. A particularly egregious one is the wolf tail that is everywhere because people who bought the game in the first week all got it for free. The wolf tail has a similar type of bushy design to the tail you are trying to capture, if not size, and can thus create confusion.
For this, ideally tails on costumes would be cut off on team games that have tails you must capture so that players can tell clearly who to target.
Lack of Party Following Option
One issue right now if you’re playing in a party, and especially on PC where account names are off, is that for each game you have to find your party members, and it can be frustrating too. Finding a party member requires you to have memorized their Fall Guy # or their outfit (and hope no one else has it) and miss what they are doing while you do so.
And if you’ve been eliminated and are spectating, you have to do so each round.
Please make it easier to follow party members. A default to party members on going to spectate would be really good.
Final Match Equality
One final point would be for improving final match equality in Fall Guys. Right now two different games have some problems here: Royal Fumble and Fall Mountain, which create uneven competitions at the end. Let’s tackle them individually here:
Fall Mountain has an issue where it can start with people in too many rows. Namely, any more than one row is probably too many for a race to the top, as it gives those who start in the front row an edge. It gets really egregious when it gets to three rows, as you have people starting significantly farther back and makes the race unequal. It may have been the first map designed for the game and not been changed much… but it goes to show iteration matters, and this one needs a bit more.
Royal Fumble has all the traditional tail issues, that being who has the tail at the end is the only thing that matters, as well as the hit detection and latency causing severe issues. Tailed costumes also interfere with gameplay legibility. But there’s one more fundamental issue: one player starts with an advantage, by having the tail. It lets that player set the pace and paths that this playthrough will go on and gives them the default edge.
Fall Guys is a lot of fun, and there’s some great design with it, but there are also some real problems—some minor, some accessibility related, and some design related. Hopefully, we’ll see many of these fixed in the near future.
Are you enjoying your time with Fall Guys? Are these grievances bothering you too? What's your favorite stage? Let us know in the comments below!