Just in case you missed it: there’s a new game in town. It’s a battle royale – yes, another one – that was released to a fair bit of fanfare and excitement a few weeks back. It boasts bright, bold visuals and chaotic matches that are at once both frantic but fun to spectate. Yet, it somehow manages to adhere to the BR formula whilst adding a dash of something a little different. A little exciting. Oh, and – perhaps most unusually of all – it ends with a single player grabbing a crown.
I’ve no doubt that while reading that, a name popped into your head, but bizarrely, not all of you would have thought of the same game. Because in a spectacular twist, as relatively niche as that description is, two games fit it.
Both are newly released. Both offer a fast, furious pace that sometimes makes it difficult to know what’s happening on screen. Both end with a player grabbing a crown. And despite this plethora of similarities, both are paradoxically very, very different, too.
Up until now, battle royales have deviated little from their original template. Even if you’ve never played Apex Legends, PUBG or Fortnite, you no doubt already know the drill. A majority of the games shoehorned into the over-saturated battle royale genre have very much emphasised that former word. Some have deviated from the original template – Apex Legends introduced team revivals and pings, for instance – but otherwise, they’re essentially cut from the same cloth.
Let’s look at Hyper Scape, for instance. A more traditional offering, it’s packed with the usual tropes. Drop from the air. Scramble for loot. Grab guns. Shoot shit. Die… or secure that delicious victory, if you’re lucky or skilled enough to beat the 100-1 odds and be the last one standing.
Ubisoft took the battle royale blueprint and sought to improve it by simplifying gunplay and encouraging players to move vertically as well as horizontally across the map. Though it innovates on the tried-and-tested model – there are ability “hacks”, for instance, and players can win not just by downing all competitors, but also by securing the end-game crown – it doesn’t deviate much from the template.
Fall Guys, on the other hand,has essentially thrown that template out. While both games are BRs that end with a player securing a crown, they demonstrate how far the genre has come in its short lifespan, and – perhaps most interestingly of all – just how widely the term can be applied now.
- READ MORE: ‘Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout’ review: a hilarious, non-violent battle royale alternative
Fall Guys doesn’t want you to kill anyone else. Beyond the team games , it doesn’t even really pit you against anyone else, either. Yes, it’s a race, and players are dropped each round, but there are no guns here. No camping. No cheeky snipers.
And while some query if the moniker “battle royale” can even be applied to it, they’re incorrect: Fall Guys is a BR in the truest sense of the term: It’s you against everyone else. Even if you’re in a team with your pals, only one jellybean can win, particularly as the spoils and/or XP aren’t shared across the “fireteam”.
A lot of people will talk about Fall Guys’ simple premise, but let’s be clear: The game might seem straightforward, but it’s not. Those adorable jellybeans are as carefully crafted as anything you’ve seen in any AAA blockbuster, their sighs and exclamations perfectly pitched.
Each map is a masterclass in clean, colourful design, the environmental hazards hilariously slapstick. Yes, it’s uncomplicated and incredibly good fun to spectate – we’ve laughed at the same kind of thing for years on It’s A Knockout and Takeshi’s Castle – but nothing this simple is accidental; it takes considerable work to pull off.
Best of all, it’s achingly simple to play, too. You need only two buttons – one to jump, one to dive – and everything else is achingly intuitive, from tag to seesaw races to memory tiles. There’s a wide selection of minigames to keep things fresh, and the ridiculous way you eventually fail – being thrown back by a giant propeller, for instance, or sent hurtling into the slime when the tile below you unexpectedly disappears – doesn’t enrage as much as it delights.
How wonderful it is, then, that both Mediatonic and Ubisoft can each launch battle royales that are so bizarrely different and similar at the same time. While higher-ups at other companies are undoubtedly pressing developers to clone the outrageously successful Fortnite, games like Fall Guys and Hyper Scape both demonstrate that despite an influx of battle royale titles, there’s still plenty of life left in this oversaturated market.