Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review

Bumble Royale

If you haven’t heard of Fall Guys by now, then you’ve been living under a rock for the past week. With millions of people grabbing the game free on PlayStation Plus and it shooting up the Twitch viewership table, this family friendly battle royale contender has been getting a lot of attention since launch. So, is it worth all the server troubles, or is Takeshi’s spirit waiting for you in another castle?

The Fall Guys themselves look like less terrifying little Mr Blobbys. Rotund and jellybean-shaped, there’s a squidginess to their appearance that makes all their arm waving runs and clumsy stumbling through the levels look adorable. Add to that the ability to slap a patterned skin on them, change the two-tone colours of their design and then dress them up in all manner of costumes, and you have the recipe for the kinds of quirky unlockable cosmetics that every battle royale seems to need.

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Don’t worry though. While Fall Guys is a battle royale, weeding out the weak/unlucky round by round until one player is crowned the champion, this is not a blood sport. The endless comparisons to Takeshi’s Castle and Total Wipeout have already been made, and they stick. The presentation feels like a slapstick TV show with each round finishing by punting the losers off the screen.

You really only need to know a few basic controls in order to play: movement, jumping and diving, and grabbing. On an even more fundamental level, you just need to be able to run and jump for the vast majority of the game modes.

Each Episode (as Fall Guys calls its matches) starts off with sixty players, whittling them down across five rounds to find the winner. There’s a fairly wide set of modes to do so, from obstacle course races that throw boulders at you and make you try to avoid spinning hammers, to puzzle rounds that test your memory or task you with finding the safe route across a bunch of wobbly platforms – easier said than done when there’s 20 other players all jostling for a qualifying place! Those that survive or cross the finish line in time move on to the next round.

Then there are the team games, splitting everyone up into two or three groups and giving some players the lurgy to spread to the other team, eggs to frantically hoard in your corner of the map, or a game of giant football. They act as a kind of leveller in Fall Guys, throwing in an element of randomness and taking away the benefit that individual memorising of the game modes and skill can provide. Of course, that can also make them feel unfair and frustrating if you’re on the losing team, but a new game after a loss is always only moments away.

It doesn’t take long for a bit of repetition to kick in. The randomisation of how rounds are picked in Fall Guys does mean that there’s still new modes to see after a few hours, but you’ll have seen the see-saws several times, got to know the obstacles courses and more. Some of the original spiciness disappears at that point. Once you’e learnt the trick for how to quite painlessly get across the see-saws, for example, you can regularly get through in the top 10 (so long as you aren’t bumped off in the early rush!).

Cross the finish line and you’ll be waiting and watching other players as they bungle their way through, and if you’re playing with friends you’ll be cheering them on, but on your lonesome you’ll likely be reaching for your phone to scroll through social media in silence until the next round has loaded. The absence of local split-screen multiplayer feels notable as well, with the game’s atmosphere feeling perfect for some couch play.

Thankfully, there’s some bonus replay incentive beyond simply hunting that coveted number one spot. Fall Guys touts a battle pass like system with players unlocking new cosmetics, emotes, and other items as they earn Fame (XP) from matches and level up. Currently there are some sixty-odd days left in season one with the promise of more to follow complete with new levels, features, and ways to dress up your Fall Guy. You never know, we might even see a Geralt skin from The Witcher III or V from Cyberpunk 2077.

Unfortunately, Mediatonic have struggled with the popularity that Fall Guys has (rightly) seen over its first few days. Their servers have struggled to keep up with demand, which isn’t terribly surprising when the game has been dropped into the laps of millions of PlayStation 4 players as part of PlayStation Plus. When it works though, we’ve found it to be pretty solid and robust.

There’s a little bit of lag at times, most noticeable in the football team game and a degree of imprecision when grabbing another player in other modes, but the bounciness of the game’s visuals and physics help diminish that factor. Unless, that is, you’re on the receiving end of a last gasp defeat, as someone grabs your tail to knock you out with seconds to go, or you think you’ve managed to leap and grab the game winning crown, only to smack your head and watch someone else take the win.

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Summary
Full of cute and cuddly jelly beans bumbling into each other in a race for the crown, Fall Guys is just about the most wholesome battle royale imaginable, and a whole lot of fun.
Good
  • The cutest, most wholesome battle royale
  • Quickfire rounds
  • Lots of different rounds and game modes
Bad
  • Teething server troubles around launch
  • Feeling of imprecision when it matters
  • Repetition of maps and modes starts to set in quite quickly
8
Written by
I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!

10 Comments

  1. That seems a bit generous.

    It’s fun, but get’s repetitive very quickly. And you spend half your time waiting. Wait while it randomly selects a round, then while it shows you the level, and then when you’re waiting for everyone else to finish. And then wait while the eliminated players get chucked off the thing before it starts all over again.

    Also, the controls are unresponsive, and the music is the worst thing I’ve heard in a long time.

    It’s a 6/10. Maybe a 7 at best.

    Oh, and some sort of cheating appears to be happening with people somehow abusing checkpoints and teleporting ahead of you. Is there cross-play with PC people? I’m guessing not, as I can’t find the option to turn it off (which Sony apparently insist on).

  2. It is a brilliant wee game. Agree with everything and also agree with MrYd on the soundtrack! (Had to turn it down)
    Man that infallible trophy is proving to be a challenge as I have now won 3 crowns in a row for a third time lol
    Once its back up and running I really hope it is saved as my last match was the 3 wins in a row. Only need two more wins and boom trophy! If it doesnt pop will be raging as I think you have to get all 5 wins in a row in one sitting!

    • Shame he’s so very wrong about everything else though, eh? ;)

      • Are you saying you don’t spend more time waiting than actually playing? (Ignoring the server issues).

        Or that I’m wrong in saying “Repetition of maps and modes starts to set in quite quickly”? Oh, wait, that was you ;)

        And that the controls are unresponsive? Not sure if that’s lag with wonky servers though, but plenty of people have mentioned it.

        It’s a fun distraction, although probably wise to avoid it in this sudden heat today. Unless you like swearing at whatever they are.

      • There’s plenty of maps and modes, you just become familiar with them quickly because rounds are short and races are prioritised for the first couple of rounds. The shortness of rounds is also why I don’t mind or really feel the wait between rounds too much, unless I’ve literally come first or second.

        Anyway. Always fun to poke the very opinionated bear, so to speak.

      • The shortness of the rounds is the problem. They can be over in 30 seconds, and then you’re waiting 3 or 4 times as long for everyone else to finish and all the other stuff to happen.

        That’s if you’re lucky and you’re at the front. If it puts you in the back row, you’ve got 40 mutant minions in front of you all getting in the way.

        And how many maps are there? I’ve seen about 12 or so, and it’s heavily weighted towards maybe 3 or 4 of them.

        And I’m not a bear. Not sure about opinionated either. I’d go for “correct and a fast typer” ;)

      • I’ve found a list of 24. 9 obstacle courses and races of various types, 5 survival modes, 7 team games and 3 final rounds.

  3. I’d give this a 5. I’ll have a go every now and then. But it’s not really fun.

  4. I agree the waiting around is this games bigeest failure.

    Also the sound that it makes when you jump is fekin’ ANNOYING!!!!

    I have only managed to get into a couple of games so far and Iam already hovering over the delete button.
    Played the game with the see saws, myself and about 10 other people got stuck about half way along the course and was there for a good 5 minutes trying to move on but to no avail.
    Finally the game countdown kicked in and ended…
    Not my idea of fun..

    • That thing with the see saws is the main problem with the whole game. Apart from the shit servers and the crime against music.

      They clearly didn’t test the levels with more than 3 people playing if you can get stuck like that. Which happens frequently. It’s the luck thing, really. If half of you go one way, and the other half go the other, the see saws get stuck in one position, with no way to get across. Until everyone runs around to the other side, then all fall off because everyone jumps on at once.

      After a week of trying to play it, I’m going to sort of agree with the 8/10 score in theory. In practice, it loses a point for the lack of enough servers after a whole week, another point for being far too reliant on luck (don’t get me started on those fake doors!), a point for the abomination they call music, and a final point for the unresponsive controls (which may or may not let you jump sometime around the same day you press the button).

      So 8/10 in theory, 4/10 in practice.

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