Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review – Good, Dumb Fun

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Multiplayer Platforming
 
Rating: PG
 
Release Date: 04/08/2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


 

Positives


- Colourful stages that are filled with fun obstacles to avoid
- Manic energy and chaotic flow
- Best videogame representation of Wipeout/Takeshi's Castle yet

Negatives


- Matchmaking issues since launch
- Some stages are weaker
- Unlocking cosmetics is relatively slow (unless you buy currency)


Posted August 15, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

There’s something to be said about a game that is just fun. There’s no big dramatic story filled with heart-wrenching scenes or combat designed to make you die over and over, just some colourful aesthetics and good, dumb fun. It feels like these experiences aren’t as plentiful as they used to be, but that’s exactly what Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is—Good, dumb fun (Something I first felt while playing the game’s beta recently).

That might sound like a knock against the game, but it really isn’t. Simple mechanics, funny physics, colourful graphics and plenty of laughs are what I found across my time with Fall Guys. There aren’t any complex mechanics to learn or intricate combat systems to grapple with, instead you’re given a few simple possibilities and thrown into stages filled with stupidity and fun. Think of something like the Wipeout TV series. Is it the height of class within the medium? Hell no. Is it incredibly fun to watch? Hell yes. That’s what Fall Guys is. You won’t get deep mechanics or an intricate story, but you’ll sure as hell have a whole bunch of fun.

The makeup of Fall Guys is extremely close to that of a Wipeout or Takeshi’s Castle. Each ‘Episode’ is made up of a number of different stages you need to complete, with competitors being eliminated at the end of each stage until finally there’s a single winner. The big difference here compared to its inspiration is that Fall Guys pits up to 60 players against each other at the same time, with all of them on the field at once. This alone can lead to some utterly chaotic moments, as 60 players all flow as one into a few small openings, all jumping over each other and falling all over the place. I haven’t seen this level of chaos in a game in forever, and I absolutely love it. Whether it was diving over a rising barrier just in time or holding back as I watched my enemies hit a wall and fall into the ether, just to jump over their heads without a care in the world, the game is filled with energising and hectic moments.

As you would expect, those stages are where you’ll spend the majority of your time in the game. There are roughly 20 different stages in the game at present, with their appearances somewhat randomised throughout an episode. I say somewhat randomised, as there are a few stages that seem to be purely available as final stages (such as Fall Mountain and Hex-A-Gone). What stage you get also seems to be tied to how many players there are left in the Episode, with many of the race-based games such as Dizzy Heights and Gate Crash tending to appear when there are larger numbers of players left and many of team and survival stages appearing as players drop off. There’s a decent variety to the stages, however after spending a few hours you’ll have already seen just about everything an untold number of times. A few more stages at launch would have been nice, although I personally wasn’t too impacted by the repetition.

While I didn’t find the repetition itself an issue, what I did have a problem with was the varying quality in some of the stages. I absolutely love all of the game’s race stages, with The Whirlygig and its spinning blades being one of my favourites, as well as most of the survival stages, but the team stages are largely a much more frustrating experience. Much of these team stages is reliant on having team members who are co-ordinating, but there’s also a very strong possibility that one team will have more players than the other teams. I frequently went into games like Fall Ball (where you need to score goals against the opposing team) when there we an odd number of players left and so one team had a distinct advantage against the other. Others like Egg Scramble and Hoarders just seem to be lacking much of the moving parts or interesting design of the other stage types, instead being much more basic arenas. Many an episode ended at a team stage for me as I watched my entire team focusing on a single opponent or item while our area was raided by everyone else.

Tying all of these stages and moments together is Fall Guys aesthetics, controls and physics. The game is hyper-colourful, filled with massively oversized neon-coloured components that pop and draw the eye. There’s plenty of moving parts, constantly drawing your attention as your chubby little thumb person waddles its way through a stage. The controls are a little floaty and not the most responsive, but they were easy to adapt to and didn’t harm the experience as a whole. It helps that in reality all you really do is run, jump, dive and grab. There’s nothing too complex there, but learning to use grabs as a defensive measure or dives as a final burst of speed adds a bit of depth to them. The physics are interesting, with characters ragdolling at the slightest provocation. It means that avoiding falling over is paramount and leads to strategizing how to best navigate a course to avoid falling and getting slammed off the stage by a spinning beam.

The one real problem I’ve had while playing Fall Guys comes as a direct result of its success: matchmaking issues and cheaters. While the matchmaking issues have gradually been improving, I’ve had plenty of instances where I’ve been unable to connect to Episodes or have lost connection part way through one, causing me to lose any and all in-game currencies I would have gained. The other issue has been cheaters beginning to appear on PC, with speedhacks quickly becoming more prevalent since launch. Both of these are especially frustrating, as the game includes a number of in-game cosmetics that you buy using in-game currency earnt from episodes or via experience earnt towards the game’s season pass. These cosmetics aren’t particularly cheap or easy to unlock (unless you buy additional currency or DLC), so anything that causes you to lose currencies is especially annoying.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout really is the best representation yet of Wipeout or Takeshi’s Castle in video game form yet. The colourful aesthetics, ragdoll physics, varied fun stages and manic energy combine together to create an experience that is engaging and some simple good, dumb fun. There are some small niggles that stop it from being great, like the weaker stages and slow progression towards buying cosmetics, but if you’re looking for a fun new multiplayer game, Fall Guys is for you.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout on Windows PC in 1440p using a Ryzen 1600x, 16GB of 3000MHZ DDR4 RAM, and an MSI Evoke OC 5700XT graphics card, with a copy provided by the publisher.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.