Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout hands-on preview: Wipeout

Mediatonic's new party game pits 60 players against each other in a series of hilarious obstacles and contests. Our preview.

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Developer Mediatonic has teamed up with Devolver Digital to create Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. In Fall Guys, up to 60 players partake in a contest composed of a series of different party games. I got to go hands-on with the closed beta for Fall Guys: Ultimate on PC, and these are my impressions after a weekend with the game.

Total wipeout

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is best described as the game show Wipeout, if it was a saturday morning cartoon. The game centers around colorfully cute characters getting whacked by wrecking balls, knocked off of cliffs, and slipping and sliding their way to victory. Players can customize their Fall Guy with a variety of patterns and colors, most of which are unlocked by earning Kudos and Crowns and upgrading your battle pass. 

Fall Guys follows a last-man-standing format. Starting with 60 players, contestants will face off in different events, in pursuit of qualifying. For example, during an obstacle course level, the first 44 players to cross the finish line will qualify for the next event, the remaining 16 players are eliminated, but are free to spectate the following events.

From the jump, Fall Guys is just stupid levels of fun. Watching as players stumble over each other and come crashing down around you, desperately trying to make qualification is pure chaos in hilarious fashion. Watching the number of already qualified players rise as I continued to fall off the map and get reset created the same sense of nail-biting suspense you get from watching the final moments of a game show on TV. There were a handful of occasions where I just narrowly qualified for the next round, giving me a strong rush of excitement and satisfaction.

The main event

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout features several unique courses composed of different objective-based challenges. In addition to the standard crash course races, there are team competitions, as well as last-man-standing scenarios. In particular, there is a game mode where all players are placed on a platform with two different beams - one along the floor and one in the air. Rotating completely independent of each other, players had to jump and dive to avoid being knocked off the stage by these moving beams. The first 12 players to fall would be eliminated, and the rest moved on to the next round. 

Having a variety of formats of competition gives some much needed variety to each match. I really liked how some levels forced players to work together, and how that clashed with the selfish behavior that’s typically fostered in last-man-standing games. During the seesaw level, players race through a series of balance based platforms, which will quickly tip one way or the other depending on where players are standing. Obviously, it would be in players’ best interest to try and keep the platforms even so that they can easily cross, but logic has no place in a game like Fall Guys. Every time I played on the seesaw level, I fell to my death at least a dozen times before making it to the finish line. 

There’s no I in team

At its heart, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a party game, so the fun is amplified when you load into a match with some friends. On keyboard and mouse, you can press the TAB key to toggle player names during a match. You can imagine the laugh I had in watching a fellow Fall Guy face plant onto a platform in front of me, for it to be none other than Shacknews CEO and Editor-In-Chief Asif Khan. Playing with friends is incredibly fun in Fall Guys, but Mediatonic leaves a bit to be desired.

For a party game that can support up to 60 players, it was a bit of a let down to see that you could only queue into a match with a party of four. Now, it should be said that letting players queue into public matches with massive party sizes could open the door for griefing, along with other problems that will sour player experience. The integration of custom games would let large groups of players have fun together, without comprimising the integrity of public matches..

I also found Fall Guys’ performance to be noteworthy. I’m playing on a mid-range PC and experienced little to no problems while running the game. It’s impressive for an online game to have 60 unique players together in such an enclosed environment with no glaring performance issues. This is a feat that can be quite easy to overlook.

The sole survivor

The closed beta for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout delivered on all the zany chaos that I was expecting from the trailers and gameplay. While the social aspect leaves something to be desired, the potential is sky high. I look forward to (literally) diving back into the action when Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout launches on August 4.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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