Knockout City Review – If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball
Knockout City is best experienced with a group of friends, so grab your crew and get ready to dodge!
Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S
Review copy provided by the publisher
Just when I thought my athletic abilities couldn’t get any worse, Velan Studios release Knockout City and make me realise I’m awful at virtual dodgeball as well as the real thing!
Knockout City immediately caught my attention when it was revealed back in February. I’ve racked up plenty of hours in games such as Rocket League and Fall Guys, so Knockout City looked like a fun, quirky game that was right up my street.
I was eager to grab my squad, finally turn off Warzone, and have endless amounts of dodgeball fun in Knockout City. Unfortunately, even going into the game with an incredibly optimistic view, some elements just miss the mark.
Don’t get me wrong, with the right teammates and a better skill set than I have, players are sure to have a blast with Knockout City, however, there’s definitely room for improvements. Thankfully, Velan Studios have made it clear that this is a passion project that they intend on supporting for quite some time.
Now, I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but from the moment I launched Knockout City, the menu system seemed overly convoluted and counterintuitive.
A prime example of this being an issue in the 1v1 mode. Following each match, there was no clear way to swap players into the match that were previously spectating. Instead, we were forced to return to the main menu and start the process again. I’m sure there is a much easier way to rectify this problem, but it definitely wasn’t made clear in the menu system.
Another example of the overly complicated menu comes at the end of a match. Most competitive games will showcase player stats in the after match screen but instead, Knockout City‘s menu requires you to flick through a couple of menus to see how you and your teammates performed. These are far from world-ending issues, and can easily be rectified in future updates, but they were enough to frustrate.
Knockout City does get plenty of things right though, most importantly the controls and gameplay feel incredibly smooth. Although it can often be difficult to grab an incoming ball and avoid getting KO’d, you’ll soon start to realise the appropriate time to grab.
You’ll need to be on the ball – pardon the pun – because there are various factors to take into account when grabbing a projectile that’s hurtling towards you. Not only can enemies fake a throw and make you panic grab, but you’ll also need to take into account how long the player is charging the throw as this changes the speed of the incoming ball.
These are just some of the many factors you’ll need to take into account if you want to come away with the win. But you don’t need to worry if you’re more of an ‘it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part’ sort of person, as Knockout City manages to find a good balance between competitiveness and a fun time.
When you start Knockout City, you’re dropped into a hub where you can practice on a dummy, learn about the different types of balls, and mess about with your friends.
Once you’ve set up your crew, search for a match from the main menu and you’re away. There are multiple modes available from on launch, including Team KO, Diamond Dash, Party Team KO, and Face-Off. Aside from the 1v1 Face-Off mode, all others consist of 3v3 battles.
Velan Studios will be updating the playlists from May 25th with a Ranked League Play and a new Ball-Up Brawl 4v4 mode for even more chaos. A 4v4 mode is something I believe the game will benefit from, as it often felt like there were pacing issues with matches.
This is definitely a game you would expect to be fast-paced with non-stop action, and although it had its moments, I often found myself running through an unnecessarily large map just searching for a ball.
If you’re able to coordinate your team to stick together and take people out, the game can feel full of action, but once you start to get picked off and separated things can dry up a little.
The maps are colourful, unique, and generally well designed. However, many of them feel slightly too big for 3v3 matches. My initial reaction was that more balls need to be spawned in around the map to keep up the pace, but there’s the possibility of this causing various balancing issues.
Of course, the counter to not being able to find a ball is for players to turn into a ball themselves and get thrown by a teammate. Its a quirky idea that often felt wasn’t utilised enough in games. So, top tip time, utilise that ability when you can’t find a ball!
Whilst on the topic of top tips, throwing a curveball at enemies was not only incredibly satisfying but also a great way to pick up a KO. Gameplay isn’t simply ‘throw ball, catch ball’, there are multiple ways to throw the ball, power up your throw, fake throws, and as previously mentioned, throw your own teammates. All of which make for some fun moments and offer different tactical approaches.
Knockout City also features Seasons and a Battle Pass, a feature that has become incredibly prevalent in the gaming world. Season 1 will begin on May 25 with brand new maps, new features, and plenty more for players to discover.
Each Season will last 9 weeks and feature a ‘Street Rank’ Battle Pass for players to unlock in-game currency, XP, and plenty of cosmetic items. The customisation and cosmetics in Knockout City is another area in which it excels.
Not only can players earn cosmetic items through the Street Rank Pass, there’s also an in-game store to spend your currency on various cosmetics should you prefer going that route.
Much like games such as Fall Guys and Fortnite, the cosmetic options will continue to grow as the games life span extends. Even on the games launch players will still have access to different glasses, hairstyles, clothes, emotes, and more.
Although the game of dodgeball is pretty standard, Velan Studios have found a way to make it unique, different, and most importantly, fun. With daily contracts, season events, and character customisation, players shouldn’t ever find themselves with nothing to do.
Overall, Knockout City is a quirky game that players will find most enjoyable when teaming up with their friends. It struggles with pacing from time to time and could do with some quality of life improvements such as POI names for competitive callouts, some form of a mini-map to locate teammates, and a menu overhaul. However, it balances elements that players will feel familiar with whilst also successfully putting an individual spin on things.
I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the game, assuming that Velan Studios continue to support the game as intended, Knockout City has the potential to be the next big gaming obsession.