The environment for battle royales has grown stale and stagnant as of late. We're left with the typical fan favorites like Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, and of course, Fortnite. One could say Ubisoft's Hyper Scape caused some excitement, but it's too early to say. The hype surrounding Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, on the other hand, is enough to claim that the genre is alive and kicking. You can't go anywhere on the internet without hearing about this "Takeshi's Castle" battle royale. All of this hubbub is for good reason because I haven't been more invested in a battle royale in quite a while. Fall Guys has the right mix of casual fun and competitiveness to appeal to just about anyone.
Fall Guys' Wacky Stages and Physics
The setting really sets the tone for Fall Guys. Think of one of those fancy bouncy castles you went in as a kid. It's a very simple game visually, but you get a really friendly and nonchalant vibe, despite the fact that you're getting beat down by giant swinging hammers and drown in pink slime all the time. The stars of the show—fall guys—are commonly described as jelly beans. They're adorable and are equipped with ridiculous outfits to add some comic relief to the mayhem.
As for the premise of Fall Guys, it is quite simple. You and 59 other players are tasked with surviving several rounds of ridiculous stages—really just minigames a la Mario Party—in a vibrant, childish setting. You'll go through various races, team challenges, and survival rounds as the numbers thin bit by bit. If you're lucky, players will make it to the final round to gain a crown and become the overall winner.
Fall Guys doesn't have any complicated controls, and for the most part, gameplay comprises running and jumping. These simple controls are complemented by a purposely ridiculous physics system. Some may find the physics to be annoying and overly punishing, but I found that it fits the lighthearted mood of the game. A bunch of players bumping into each other can result in hilarious situations where piles of fall guys are stacked on top of each other. Leaping into or getting hit by a moving obstacle can sometimes create a goofy chain of events where you're just thrown around like a limp rag doll, and there's nothing you can do about it.
As for the challenges you'll face, there are several different types of rounds: race, survival, and team matches. Races require a limited number of players to get to the end of a level. Races are my favorite; usually, these are just straight shots to a finish line, but you have to avoid or contend with a bunch of hazards such as spinning fans or even giant seesaws. Of the bunch, my preferred race is Hit Parade, which requires players to balance on beams, navigate through a bunch of spinners, make it through some wrecking balls, and more. These comprise a cornucopia of hazards that really encapsulates the Fall Guys experience. Races are always a joy.
Meanwhile, survival rounds require you to just withstand a bunch of obstacles being thrown your way. While I enjoyed all the races in Fall Guys, survival rounds are hit or miss. These rounds require a set number of players to get knocked out of the stage or survive long enough for the level to end. Some are extremely simple, like Jump Club—this one has two rotating beams you need to avoid. If you get hit, it'll knock you into the depths below. It's not that challenging, but with a bunch of players thrown into the mix, it's a silly mix of mayhem and precision jumping.
Of these five survival games, two are bland. One of these is Perfect Match, a game simple memorization. It's one that offers little to no challenge it typically eliminates very few players. The other is Tail Tag. This groan-inducing level has an obstacle course-like layout. There's a set number of players with tails, and they can be stolen when one player grabs another. You can spend the whole match with a tail, but it can be stolen at the last second and result in your loss. It's just not that exciting since it's a glorified game of tag.
The Team Dilemma in Fall Guys
But let's discuss the elephant in the room. The dreaded team matches. Imagine doing amazing in the first few races and survival matches, only to have your chances of victory squandered by the ineptitude of your teammates. If you're in a group with friends, there's some degree of communication that might aid you in these matches. If you're alone, you had better hope your team has some competent players.
Some of the team stages include Egg Scramble (where your team needs to hoard eggs), Hoopsie Daisy (jump through more hoops than other teams), and a few others like grabbing tails or hoarding large balls. The worst of all has to be Fall Ball, which is just soccer. Soccer doesn't work great when you have wonky physics, so it's frustrating; and what's worse, sometimes the team count is uneven, so one time might end up with more players than the other. This offers a huge advantage to the team.
These stages aren't very creative and serve as the greatest barrier to winning. One possible fix to this is creating separate playlists: one for purely solo minigames, and another for solo and team-based games. There's the occasional outlier where your team defies all odds and gains a final second lead. Most of the time, however, these matches end up with one or two teams absolutely steamrolling the other. If you're the team getting picked on, it's not fun at all. If you do manage to win, you'll get to one of three final stages, which are all quite fun and solo (although, one involves a tail, which is slightly frustrating).
Cosmetics and Shopping in Fall Guys
Your performance in Fall Guys does matter. You'll gain currency after each "episode." This currency can be used in the in-game shop for cosmetic items. Thankfully, cosmetics are the only thing you can buy—there are no performance boosters. The cosmetics in Fall Guys are wonderful, and there seems to be a decent variety. Dress up as a toucan or triceratops if you want. Even better, mix and match to make your own style. There are also some cute color schemes and patterns for your little fall guy. Most of these look really cool, so there's a lot of potential for personalizing your look.
The only issue I have with the cosmetic shop is that there's a daily rotation. Before playing the beta, I was under the impression that we'd be able to buy whatever cosmetics we wanted, so long as we had the currency for it. This is not the case—there's only a handful of items you can buy each day. This is problematic for me since it will take a long time before players start looking different from one another. In most games, at least in the early stages of Fall Guys' lifespan, people look the same. You're likely to see lots of pineapples and dinosaurs right now, or whatever is newly released on a given day. Otherwise, I hope that the quality of cosmetic options continues.
One other noteworthy inclusion is a battle pass. The battle pass gradually unlocks more cosmetics and currency for players as they play. The battle pass is a great incentive for players to come back and play for exclusive content. Unfortunately, battle passes unlock relatively fast. After less than a week, I'm already halfway through it. Furthermore, the seasons for battle passes last for approximately 60 days, which seems way too long. Two months is going to be quite easy to unlock everything, and I worry that content will get stale very quickly if players have to wait that long.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review | Final Thoughts
My major concern regarding Fall Guys is how long it will take until the content gets stale. There's a lot of repetition among levels, and the bothersome team matches don't help. The developers have already promised more stages and cosmetics, but it's hard to guess how long that will take. As of right now, though, Fall Guys has my undivided attention. I'm addicted to the thrill of winning, overcoming all the wacky obstacles, and collecting more cosmetics for my fall guy. It's the perfect low-stakes multiplayer game. If you've grown tired of the battle royale genre, Fall Guys is worth a shot. It's different, unique, and has a lot of charm. What's not to love about that?
TechRaptor reviewed Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout on PC with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on the PlayStation 4.
- Lots of Fun Stages
- Goofy Physics
- Cosmetics Look Great
- Team Stages
- Limited Shop, Long Battle Pass