Why Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is the Breath of Fresh Air We All Needed

The new battle royale is taking the world by storm. And it deserves it.

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Fortnite’s release in 2017 changed the way of videogames. Given the more readily available power of the PS4/Xbox One generation, Epic Games was able to create a huge map and populate it with 100 concurrent online players, each battling to the end in a Hunger Games style gametype. Fortnite continues to dominate the mindshare of the media, in games and outside, but the fervor created a flurry of similar endeavors. The simplicity of the concept allowed other shooters to create their own spin on the same mode. We now live in a world of battle royales. Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Player Unknown Battlegrounds, and Fortnite now dominate the gaming market with an entirely new format of game.

But for those who aren’t interested in competitive shooters, trust me, I understand, something has joined the battle royale fray that will change the way we look at the genre. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout released on August 4th, 2020 and it’s the best implementation of the battle royale format on a genre outside of shooters. Elegantly simple, the game involves simply moving, jumping, diving, and grabbing. A platformer that starts with 60 players in each game and ends with just one winner, Fall Guys plays almost like a game show. Displayed similarly to the format of the TV show Wipeout, the winner of the last round represents the winner of the whole competition.

Now, a month after its launch, Fall Guys is nothing short of a hit. CNN called it one of the biggest indie game launches of all time, reporting that it had been the most downloaded PlayStation Plus title of all time. 7 million copies sold on Steam and a peak of more than 400,000 concurrent players, this game is proof that a fresh take on a genre, when executed well, can be a massive success.

Where shooters lean on their hardcore fanbase that has been around from the release of the game, Fall Guys has the benefit of a more level playing field. Where competitive shooters tend to crowd out casual newcomers, players can expect to be competitive in Fall Guys as soon as they get a handle on the controls and on each of the games. Games range from team activities to races to last-person-standing. There’s enough variety to keep the games from becoming stale, but I can foresee this being a pain point for more active players.

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Many of the faults of Fall Guys are some of what makes it so accessible. To a much higher degree than competitive battle royale shooters, a Fall Guys victory always comes with a healthy dose of luck. Positioning, timing, team-based games, and the behavior of other players all make a significant difference. Getting to the final round only to be held by a fellow player at the starting line while the eventual winner runs on untouched can only be attributed to luck. But this frustration is part of what levels the playing field. Given that any player can be affected by a bad team or unfortunate timing on any given race, the competition is considerably more even across the game.

Where Fall Guys continues to differ from the mold of other battle royales is in its pricing strategy. Rather than the typical free-to-play, pay for skins model that we’ve seen take over the battle royale space, Fall Guys costs $20 up front. While skins can still be bought for a fee, the essence of heavily advertising for in-game purchases that can plague other free-to-play games is largely absent. The $20 fee seems to have cleaned up the interface so that the game is the focus.

Fall Guys still managed to capitalize on the initial buzz around the game by instantly making it free to PlayStation Plus subscribers, thus exposing the title to a wide array of potential players. The $20 fee will be reinstated on the PlayStation store for all purchasers at the beginning of September.

So a new type of battle royale paves the way for other non-shooters and it’s about time that a new genre came into the mix. With more people than ever in our tech-driven world at home, now seems like the best time to be playing a casually competitive game with your friends.

Written by

(Mostly) tech writer based in NYC. Other interests include movies, games, music, soccer, and traveling. You’ll find a little bit of all of that here.

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