Knockout City Multiplayer — What to Expect from EA's Dodgeball Game

Recently, we got a chance to jump into the Knockout City multiplayer modes and see what Velan Studios' new dodgeball game is all about.

February 17, 2021

Today, EA revealed its latest project from the EA Originals program. This one comes from Velan Studios, who is the team behind Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. However, this game is something completely different. Knockout City pairs elements of first-person shooters and fighting games to make a new dodgeball extravaganza. I’ve had a chance to get my hands on the game and am here to report that the Knockout City multiplayer is quite fun.

At its core, Knockout City is a team-based shooter. Except, instead of shooting, you’re throwing and catching dodgeballs. This means the whole thing is based on timing instead of your aim. In fact, when you hold down the throwing button, you auto-lock onto an opponent. However, if you’re just tossing your ball around willy-nilly you’re never going to hit anyone.

This is because you can just catch those dodgeballs if you’re paying attention. So, it’s important to use all the tricks at your disposal to knock your opponents off balance before hitting them in the face. You have all kinds of moves to work with. You can fake a throw, use different types of throws to get around obstacles for a surprise, and even ram into players to knock them around. To truly dominant a match, you’ll need to work with your teammates to cause enough controlled chaos to knock out your enemies.

So far, I’ve only played a few matches of Knockout City multiplayer, but a few things are clear. Most importantly, it’s a good time. I’m not a big fan of shooters, but the way everything has been made more timing-based makes it more palatable to my personal tastes. Sure, there’s still some element of twitchiness to the combat; however, teamwork and quick-planning seem like the factors that will usually win the day.

This brings me to my next point. Knockout City is, like many multiplayer titles, going to be best enjoyed with a group. You can immediately notice when you’re playing against a team of friends. The coordination needed to really destroy a team just won’t happen in pick-up groups. I’m not saying you shouldn’t hop in for solo games, but it does seem like that will be a tougher test.

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On top of all this, I really love how chaotic the movement is. As mentioned, you have a ton of tools at your disposal. You can quickly dash around, make liberal use of a double jump, or even bring out a hang glider to soar around the world. And each map has its own touch that adds to the chaos. One lets you zip around more quickly with your glider as you catch thermals rising off of rooftops. Another is a constantly in-motion construction site that sees the world around you shifting around as you play.

Of course, none of this addresses the most important hurdle the game faces. To be a success, the game must acquire a sizeable audience. That’s going to be a tough test. The team is going to charge $20 for Knockout City, but at launch, everyone can hop in and test out the full game for free. Plus, the game supports cross-play and cross-progression out of the gate. So, Velan Studios is doing everything it can to make it a success.

That said, It’s a somewhat odd decision to not go free-to-play given the game does have cosmetic microtransactions. Usually, those are there to offset the cost of continued development. However, it’s important to note that the cosmetics aren’t coming out of lootboxes. If you want something, you just go buy it. That’s a bit less predatory, which makes the upfront cost a little easier to swallow. It’s also worth noting that you can earn everything in the game. It’s just probably going to take you a while.

Enough about the game’s cosmetic strategy though. The bottom line is that my early time with the game has me more than intrigued. Knockout City will need to prove itself with the larger audience to get a big enough community to stay sustainable. However, the game feels different enough from typical shooters to potentially have a chance. If nothing else, the movement feels great.

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