Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout - Hands-on preview from E3 2019

What exactly is Devolver Digital and Mediatonic's battle royale game about? Shacknews goes hands-on with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout at E3 2019 to find out.

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Devolver Digital's E3 presentations are nothing if not memorable. The indie gaming publisher has made its name on giving a home to some of the most unique ideas in video games. And E3 means that they're going to reveal some new games during what always promises to be the most whacked-out press conference of the week. This year saw Devolver Digital reveal a slew of new games, but one of those games had some question marks surrounding it.

Fall Guys, subtitled "Ultimate Knockout," had its first debut trailer on Sunday night. This game from developer Mediatonic (the studio behind the upcoming Gears Pop) features a hundred players, which seems to tease battle royale. But the trailer offered little to no explanation as to what players should expect. It turns out that the answer is a cross between the battle royale genre and Mario Party-style mini-games. Such a premise intrigued us at Shacknews, so we tracked down Devolver Digital at E3 to go hands-on.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

The premise for Fall Guys is just like any battle royale, with 100 players entering and one player ultimately emerging victorious. The manner in which the game whittles the ranks down to one final victor is what sets the game apart. Fall Guys plays across multiple rounds, with each round presenting a different mini-game challenge. When time runs out, a number of players are eliminated. The game moves on with the survivors going to the next round and the fallen going back to the matchmaking queue.

The games are fairly simple. The first round we tried out had the entire field racing to the finish line. Along the way, there are doorways piled with blocks. A few of those doorways see those blocks collapse on contact, like the Kool-Aid Man busting through. Other doorways have totally solid blocks and attempting to jump through them brings players to a screeching halt. The players at the head of the pack are the ones that take the risk, which gives stragglers a chance to catch up.

The second game gave half the remaining field tailfeathers. The idea here was to end the round with a tail. Any player without a tail was eliminated. The idea was to run around and avoid the pack, making sure to avoid obstacles like swinging hammers and seesaw platforms. There are very few hiding spots and with dozens of players running through a relatively small map, things get frantic in a hurry.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

The third and final game saw whoever was left attempt to run up a hill to a crown at the top. Giant boulders would get catapulted down, barreling over anyone in their way. The idea was to avoid the boulders, as well as other obstacles like swinging hammers. The first person to grab the crown was the battle royale winner.

All of this was tremendously fun in practice, though Mediatonic is still refining a few of the game's elements. This includes some of the elements of the game's very premise. For one thing, the developer is still working on giving players incentives to win those first games and not just merely survive. I crossed the finish line first in this opening round of our second playthrough, but noticed that there was essentially no different beteween coming in 1st and coming in 20th.

The other idea that Mediatonic has ready to implement is the idea of new games being added to the rotation. The developer hopes to update Fall Guys on a monthly basis and add all-new mini-games to keep the experience feeling fresh. Players should expect to see randomized selections whenever they queue up for a session.

Fall Guys' beauty is in its simplicity and that's why this game shows a lot of promise. It looks to be among the most accessible of any battle royale game, with players of any skill level able to pick it up and jump right in. There are no overly complex controls and the main mechanic seems to be to move and move quickly.

Fall Guys isn't ready to step into the ring just yet, but Mediatonic is hard at work on the game's release. Look for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout to come to PC and PlayStation 4 in 2020.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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