Fall Guys is the Silliest Battle Royale Game That I've Ever Played
Taking inspiration from Japanese game shows, Fall Guys is absurd and silly in all the right ways as a chaotic multiplayer game.
In the past few years, the “battle royale” genre has exploded in popularity with no small thanks to games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Though the genre has now traditionally been associated with shooters, a few games have managed to play with the idea of being the last player standing in interesting ways, like Tetris 99 turning the concept of a battle royale game on its head. Joining the pack of these “alternative” battle royale games is the upcoming Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout later this year, and if you happen to love hectic multiplayer games inspired by Japanese game shows like Takeshi’s Castle or are trying to be the next American Ninja Warrior, then I think you’ll fall head over heels for Fall Guys.
During PAX East 2020, I got to spend some time with the showfloor demo of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout to really see what the game was all about after we saw it at E3 last year. As my first time demoing Fall Guys, from a glance I immediately thought of games like Gang Beasts and Human: Fall Flat with its wacky physics-based gameplay and colorful visuals. But after going through a few rounds with the game, I can already tell it’s much more than that, and while it might fall into the battle royale genre, Fall Guys is clearly a huge (and very fun) departure from games like PUBG and Fortnite.
The basic premise of Fall Guys is that a group of 60 players competes in a series of mini-games to eventually make it to the last round, claim the crown, and become the victor of the match. The particular game that I played took place over four rounds, and while I ended up making it to the final mini-game, I fell just short (literally and figuratively) of being the ultimate Fall Guy. By design, each of the four mini-games that I played in Fall Guys was designed to winnow the playing field just a little bit further. While the player count got smaller and smaller through each of the rounds, the mini-games themselves only get more and more ridiculous, adding to the fun of trying to be the last Fall Guy remaining.
The first of the mini-games that I played in Fall Guys involved a simple race to the finish, with a certain number of players able to proceed to the next round by making the finish line in time. The catch is that in the way of the finish line are a series of barriers with opening doors, though the doors are only open on some parts of the barriers, intending to catch players off-guard as they storm ahead. Given the fact that all 60 players are trying to rush to the finish line at once, it’s a delightfully chaotic experience trying to race against 59 other players.
However, the first mini-game gave me a glance at how Fall Guys has some strategy and depth among all the silliness. For example, in the first mini-game I especially found it helpful to hang back a little bit rather than trying to be at the head of the pack the whole time so I could see where the openings of the next barrier were, allowing me to give a final push in the last stretch to make it to the next round.
“While it might fall into the battle royale genre, Fall Guys is clearly a huge (and very fun) departure from games like PUBG and Fortnite.”
With a handful of players eliminated, the next round of Fall Guys involved a game of “Tail Tag” where each player has a tail attached to their character’s back, with the ultimate goal to be among the players that still has a tail when the timer runs out. With around 40-50 players still in the running to advance ahead, the simple premise of trying to still remain with a tail became surprisingly complex, as I tried to strategize the best path to staying out of other players’ ways. Ultimately, I ended up hugging the walls of the playing field to try and minimize my encounters with other players trying to sneak behind and grab my tail, and while I had some last minute struggles with my tail being snatched, I ended up getting the upper hand and making it to the next round.
While the first two rounds were solo efforts, the third mini-game that I played in Fall Guys ended up being the first with a team-oriented objective, in this case being a competition to catch eggs collected in the middle of the map. Specifically, the remaining player pool (which was probably around 30-40 players at this point) were divided into several teams with the goal of collecting the most eggs and bringing them back to their base by the round’s end.
“Fall Guys seems destined to be the next party game or streaming sensation that you won’t be able to put down.”
Though the goal was simple enough, again Fall Guys showed that were were some layers of strategy in the mini-game among all the madness of players trying to snatch up eggs and return them to their base for points, including several golden eggs that are more valuable. While my team already had a hefty number of eggs by the time the round was almost over, I tried working my way into the other teams’ bases to see if I could steal some eggs from them at the last second and dwindle their final score. While I ended up getting thwarted on that plan by other players who clearly saw what I was trying to do, thankfully our team managed to work our way through to the fourth and final round.
That final round involved another race to the finish, as me and the remaining 10-20 players all fought our way to the top of a mountain with the crown to victory at the top. The final mini-game especially highlighted Fall Guys at its best, as the path to the mountain was filled with rotating barriers, gigantic balls tumbling their way down the mountain, and other obstacles trying to thwart me at every turn, let alone trying to get ahead of the rest of the other players. It’s the closest I can possibly imagine to being in something like Nickelodeon’s GUTS, and combined with the game’s emphasis on physics and chaos, it was almost as much fun failing to make it up to the top as it was actually trying to claim victory (spoiler alert: I didn’t).
From what I played of the game at PAX East, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face by the time that I made it to the last round of Fall Guys, and even though I didn’t emerge as the victor, I only wanted to jump back into the chaos again for more. Combining the hectic gameplay of the battle royale genre with an experience that would feel right at home on Japanese TV, Fall Guys seems destined to be the next party game or streaming sensation that you won’t be able to put down. While I’m interested to see if there is more variety in the mini-games when it finally releases, Fall Guys already has me ready to fail upwards again and again. If anything, Fall Guys might just give new meaning to the phrase “where we droppin’, boys?”
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will release for PS4 and PC sometime later this year.