‘Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout’ review: a hilarious, non-violent battle royale alternative

A manic 60-player variety game show you can’t help but fall for

There’s no doubt that battle royale is one of the most popular gaming genres right now, but it’s also reached critical mass, with every other publisher throwing their hat in the ring.

Enter, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.

While it might seem like another one of those indie, underdog contenders, it’s truly unlike any other battle royale you’ve played so far – and that’s a good thing.

For starters, there are no guns or any kind of violence, whether realistic or cartoon. The titular Fall Guys aren’t supersoldiers but adorable, highly customisable bean-shaped avatars with a penchant for getting back up after being repeatedly knocked down or over.

Nonetheless, they all have what it takes to stumble to glory in a game that harkens back to absurd obstacle TV game shows like Wipeout, It’s A Knockout! and Takeshi’s Castle, with colourful livery that recalls ’90s after-school children’s TV shows like Fun House.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Credit: Alan Wen

Instead of an ever shrinking map, Fall Guys is structured as a game show that’s played out in a maximum of five randomly selected rounds. Each is a mini-game similar to what you might find in Mario Party with similar straightforward rules, albeit a larger group of players – which is the major chaos factor.

These rounds come in a variety of formats, ranging from free-for-alls to elimination rounds. There are also frantic team challenges where you’re temporarily forced into shaky alliances with players you may have just been sabotaging in the previous round.

Whether team-based or free-for-all, there’s always a strong group dynamic at work and that’s another way Fall Guys separates itself from other battle royale games. While most other games have a gradual build-up – unless you enjoy dropping into a hotspot – this game throws you into the thick of things almost immediately. But don’t fret, with its idiotproof gameplay – you only need to know how to run and jump – Fall Guys welcomes the most casual of gamers.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Credit: Alan Wen

The Door Dash round best underlines the game’s genius simplicity in a race: to reach the goal, all you have to do is avoid fake doors in your path. But since you can’t tell which doors are fake, do you take the risk and dive in headfirst, or do you hang back and see what everyone else does, but risk being shoved out in the bottleneck that ensues?

Fortunately, races are usually quite forgiving, with respawn checkpoints and a low barrier to qualify for the next round. But players are also incentivised to rank higher during the round as extra points are awarded for coming in the top 20 or 50 per cent. Plus, it’s always fun to troll your fellow competitors at the finish line with cheeky emotes.

Cooperation is required during the team rounds, but shady shenanigans are a viable tactic as well. The Egg Scramble round might just seem like an easy dash for which team can get the most eggs from the middle of the room into their basket, but you could just as well plunder another team’s basket or get into a scrum grabbing back your eggs from would-be thieves. Even if it’s not a wildly successful tactic, it ought to generate some laughs.

The Rock ’N’ Roll stage is another one where underhanded tactics could come in handy. I realised pretty early on that instead of cooperating with my fellow Fall Guys, I could just sabotage their efforts instead. Hilarious and effective.

While it may seem unfair, especially if you fall into the “obedient” camp, skilfully manoeuvring the devious races only to find yourself getting derailed by a band of deviants, there’s an air of light-hearted mischief in this game that makes it hard to imagine this community sliding into toxicity. If you do find yourself getting tilted, then maybe this game isn’t for you.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Credit: Alan Wen

Of course, as aforementioned, Fall Guys finds itself in a crowded marketplace. Though its base game is a reasonable price, it still has to contend with massive, free-to-play battle royales. But in spite of that, Mediatonic’s latest game is the most unique twist on battle royale since Tetris 99 and shows us how much more fun you can have without a gun.

‘Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout’ is available now on PC and PlayStation 4.

Our Verdict

Fall Guys is a casual and chaotically original take on battle royale with roots that hark back to the fun, messy and harmless TV game shows of yesteryear. It’s as hilarious as it is maddening, and always a joy to keep going for another round.

Pros

  • Easy to pick up but still requires skill (and luck)
  • Great variety in each round
  • Hilariously unpredictable mass player dynamics
  • All content can be unlocked in-game and more free updates to come
  • Shenanigans

Cons

  • The See Saw round
  • Shenanigans (when you’re on the receiving end)
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