Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Hands-On Preview: An All-Ages Royale
Finally, a battle royale where no one has to die. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout takes the tried-and-true genre of quirky Japanese game shows and builds it into the framework of being the last man standing. Who knew that a team that once developed the first dating sim involving pigeons could develop an equally silly tournament of champions.
Each round of Fall Guys slowly culls the herd and slims down each group of contestants from nearly a hundred down to roughly two-thirds and then down again to the final third in the last mad dash. The controls to Fall Guys are utterly simple, only requiring movement, jumping, and grabbing. This makes giving anyone a controller even at the most liquid of celebrations an easy endeavor.
For the first round of Fall Guys, the name of the game is racing to the finish line. Blocking the path of the first hundred contestants are a series of doors that the only way to bust on through is by smashing your floppy fall guy body into them. Across the long run of doors, each wall contains a smaller and smaller ratio of real doors to false walls. It isn’t a bad idea to hang back a few paces and let the leader of the pack make the first gamble to see which walls can be knocked down, as running headfirst into a wall will knock your fall guy down for a few seconds and force you to lose that advantage. Currently, there are no rewards for being the fastest in the race, so just as long as you’re in the first few dozen contestants to cross the finish line, you’ll make it on to the next round.
The second is a matter of culling the team by half to determine the haves and the have-nots, namely in the possession of a tail. Each player begins the match with an equal probability of having a tail at the start. For a few short minutes, those players have to run about and keep the tail on their possession at the end of the match. Of course, losing your tail doesn’t mean you’re out of the match, as you’re offered the opportunity to take back what’s yours (or from any other fall guy that has which you so desire). Just as long as you have that tail on your person when the timer runs out, you proceed to the final round.
This final round of Fall Guys pits the last remaining bodies on an uphill dash that feels right at home on a rerun of Takeshi’s Castle, or MXC for those here in the States. That uphill scramble is filled with boulders, spinning traps, and various physical obstacles meant to impede rather than outright knock you out. Anytime you’re struck down, you lose a few precious seconds of runtime to make it to the end of the run. The final moments of the run split into two paths to the same end: a giant floating crown that can only let one fall guy grapple on and hold onto sweet victory.
In the brief playable build of Fall Guys, I had the pleasure of playing twice in a gentle and no judgment environment (after taking my shoes off, I managed to sneak out a victory in one of the two games). The developers talked about bringing in a wide variety of activities in random formats, so it will be less rigid and more like those game shows that had a wide number of varieties to pull from. There will also be a wide pool of skins and cosmetics for your fall guy to dress up in each royal battle. Currently, Mediatonic has not announced pricing for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout or a release window beyond 2020, but the PC Steam release is currently available for Wishlist.