"Go! Go! Go!”
My partner and I were nearly leaping out of our chairs, yelling into the microphones while we watched my brother ascend the final challenge mountain to grab the crown and seize victory in the instant classic “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.”
“Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout,” out this Tuesday on PC and PlayStation 4, is essentially the technicolor video game version of slapstick gameshows like “Wipeout” and “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge,” combining easy-to-play minigames with the frenetic energy of dozens of people clambering through an obstacle course at the same time.
Each match begins with a group of 60 players who are quickly whittled down over the course of several rounds that includes obstacle courses, human Tetris (another nod to gameshows), tag and team sports like steal and horde the eggs. The first group of players to cross the finish line, survive the Tetris game, have a tail at the end of the game of tag or are on the winning teams will advance to the next round, culminating in a final challenge where a single player will grab the crown and win the match.
You’ll be making perilous jumps, avoiding swinging pendulums, hurdling spinning bars, running against conveyor belts, dodging hammers, boulders and giant fruit, and working to outsmart a crush of competitors.
It’s a fast-paced, colorful and, perhaps most importantly, light-hearted approach to the battle royale genre — many players, one winner — that has so far been largely occupied by shooters like “Fortnite” and the anxiety-inducing “Call of Duty: Warzone.”
With colorful characters, a big variety of costumes (some of which do, however, cost money) and peppy music, “Fall Guys” is simply a blast to play and extremely easy to leap into new games if you’re eliminated. If you’re in a group, you can stick around and spectate the rest of the game and cheer on your surviving friends.
The controls are also easy to pick up as you’ll be jumping, diving and grabbing onto objects (and sometimes other players if you want to stir up some mischief). Failure — and elimination — is common, sometimes as easy as tripping while going through a door in the fake door challenge, but that bit of luck is what makes each match fun and exciting.
While “Fall Guys” is great with friends, it can be frustrating if you — like me — aren’t as good as your teammates and are regularly eliminated in the early rounds while your teammate — my brother — sails through onto the final rounds. It can sideline you for five or 10 minutes. Though spectating and cheering on your friends to victory is fun, it can feel like you’re waiting around a lot and I wish there were something for spectators to do.
We solved this by jumping out of matches if we didn’t all make it through at least the first round. Luckily, finding a match is smooth and fast, though we did run into a few server errors that would drop us all out of the matches, something I chalked up to day-one growing pains and figure will be smoothed out soon.
Still, those are minor quibbles in an otherwise fantastic new game. There’s a ton of variety and plenty of room for the developers to continue to expand “Fall Guys,” adding new challenges and more costume varieties to keep it worth revisiting.
After several rounds, enough luck was on my side that I found myself in the final match and ahead of the pack as we raced toward the crown at the top of the obstacle course. My brothers’ warning that the crown bobs up and down a bit, requiring proper timing, had been completely forgotten at this point. All I saw was the other player on the opposite ledge running for the crown, maybe a step ahead of me, and we both leapt into the air ... completely whiffing the jump.
Ah, well, I guess I’ll have to keep playing.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Play
Game: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Rating: 4 out of 5
Platforms: PS4 and PC
Price: Free on PS4 with PlayStation Plus subscription, $20 on PC
Release Date: Aug. 4, 2020
ESRB Rating: Everyone