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Fall Guys

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Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys cover.jpg
Developer(s)Mediatonic
Publisher(s)
Director(s)Jamie Riding
Producer(s)Alex Ruse
Designer(s)Joseph Walsh
Programmer(s)
  • Joel Herber
  • Rakesh Vangur
Artist(s)Rob Jackson
Composer(s)
EngineUnity
Platform(s)
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • WW: 4 August 2020
Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • WW: 2021
Android, iOS
Genre(s)Battle royale, platform
Mode(s)Multiplayer

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a platform battle royale game developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital. It was released for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4 on 4 August 2020. The game is planned for eventual release on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.[2]

Up to 60 players control jellybean-like creatures and compete against each other in a series of challenges, such as obstacle courses or tag. Many different courses have been added since the game was first released; the minority are team-based, while many require not falling into slime on a spinning, floating platform with obstacles designed to knock players in and waiting for a specified number of others to be eliminated, but most are obstacle courses that involve players racing to get to the finish line as soon as possible, lest they are eliminated—starting at 40, there is a limited number of players that can qualify, and the number lowers as rounds progress. Eventually, the number of players get down to one, the player who is crowned the winner.

Fall Guys received positive reviews from critics for its chaotic gameplay and visual appearance. The game draws inspiration from game shows like Takeshi's Castle, It's a Knockout, Wipeout, and playground games like tag and British Bulldog.[3][4] The game has seasonal changes, which adds more challenges and changes the game's theme. The fifth and current season of the game is adventure-themed with a jungle setting.[5]

Gameplay

Up to 60 players compete in matches with battle royale-style gameplay.[6][7][8] Players, represented as jellybean-like figures,[9] move around a three-dimensional playing field, with additional moves such as jumping, grabbing/climbing, or diving to assist gameplay.[10] The aim is to qualify for subsequent rounds by successfully completing each of the randomly selected mini-games.[11][12] Certain mini-games involve running towards a finish line at the end of the map, playing tag with other players, while others add elements of teamwork.[6][13] On every mini-game, obstacles appear around the map for added complexity.[14][15] Players who are too slow, who fall into pink slime, or who fail certain requirements for a mini-game, are eliminated. On the final round, the remaining few players compete in a final match with a randomised mini-game designed for a smaller player size.[10] The winner of the match is the last player standing.[16]

Using an in-game currency, "Kudos", players can purchase cosmetics and emotes for their character to show off in-game.[17][18] Players obtain Kudos by completing matches and get "Crowns" (the premium currency) by winning a match.[19] The game supports microtransactions for the purchase of additional in-game currency.[18] Season 4 added the "Crown Shards" currency, earned by playing in Squad Mode or by completing daily challenges. Crown Shards can be traded for additional Crowns.[20]

New costumes are regularly added, usually for a limited time.[21] Some are of characters from different franchises, such as Gordon Freeman from the Half-Life series, P-Body from Portal 2, Godzilla from its franchise, Scout from Team Fortress 2,[22][23] Sonic the Hedgehog from his franchise,[24] Doomguy from the Doom series,[21][25] Jacket from Hotline Miami, both Ratchet and Clank from the Ratchet & Clank video game series, Cuphead and Mugman from the videogame Cuphead, or an Astronaut skin with an egg on its head from the game Among Us.[26][27][28]

Fall Guys regularly hosts new seasons approximately every 2 to 4 months, hosting a new theme and additional content every season.[29][30] Squad Mode was added in Season 4, where a team of four other players cooperates to earn points, to progress to the next round and earn Crown Shards.[31]

Seasons

Season Period Nickname Description
Season 1 8 August 2020 – 7 October 2020 N/A The original season, inspired by game shows like Takeshi's Castle, It's a Knockout and Wipeout.
Season 2 8 October 2020 – 14 December 2020 Medieval Knockout[32] Medieval-themed, with 5 added medieval maps, cosmetics,[33] and a feature to change nicknames and banners.[34]
Season 3 15 December 2020 – 21 March 2021 Winter Knockout[35] Winter-themed, with 8 winter obstacles, cosmetics, and new shows[36][37]
Season 4 22 March 2021 – 20 July 2021 Fall Guys 4041[38] Future-themed with a retro style, with 7 futuristic obstacles, new cosmetics,[39] a squad mode,[40] Crown Shards,[20] daily challenges,[38] and extending the season pass from 40 levels to 50 levels[40]
Season 5 20 July 2021 – 29 November 2021 Jungle Adventure[41] Jungle Adventure-themed[41] with 6 new Jungle themed courses, a Duos and Trios mode, 5 new obstacles, and new cosmetics[42]
Season 6 30 November 2021 – Upcoming Party Spectacular[43] Party Spectacular-themed with 5 new Circus themed courses, new cosmetics[44], and the ability to link a Epic Games Account allowing cross-platform progression between PS4 and Steam, the ability to have custom names for PC players, and Lobbies & Friends Lists[45]

Development

The conception of what became Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout began when Mediatonic was discussing another project in January 2018.[46] Lead designer Joe Walsh said that it reminded him of game shows such as Takeshi's Castle and Total Wipeout. He drew from that inspiration to create a pitch document for what would become Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.[3][47] Originally titled Fools' Gauntlet, Walsh's pitch featured 100 players competing in a battle royale composed of physical challenges.[48] Creative director Jeff Tanton, while initially sceptical that creating another battle royale game would be successful, was quickly convinced of the game's potential, and forwarded Walsh's pitch to Mediatonic's founders.[46]

Tanton and Walsh worked on a pitch deck, and principal concept artist Dan Hoang created images featuring colourful, bean-shaped characters racing on an obstacle course in the sky. Tanton explained that Hoang's character designs helped shift the focus of the game away from the obstacle course itself, to the characters.[49][50] With the pitch deck completed, Tanton pitched the game to 10 different publishers at the 2018 Game Developers Conference. Six months after Devolver Digital agreed to publish the game, development began.[46][49]

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout began its initial prototyping process with a small team, growing to 30 people during development.[51] Initial progress on individual minigames was slow which caused the team to worry that there wouldn't be enough content for launch. A turning point came when the team made a group of pillars that "Took the opinions of people out of the occasion" and allowed the developers to "kill ideas faster". Such pillars include ensuring a minigame was "50-50 chaos and skill" and that a level had to be "different every time".[52] Inspired by game shows, and differentiating from first-person shooter battle royale games, Mediatonic focused on gameplay variety. By presenting the player with several, randomised rounds of game modes, Mediatonic hoped to recreate the experience of being on a game show.[51] To help keep the "spirit of playground games and game shows", Mediatonic created an internal rule that game modes needed to be explained in three words.[51] Over time, the game underwent numerous other changes. The player count was decreased from 100 to 60, because overpopulated games "stopped being readable or fun".[53] In testing, Mediatonic noted that players overestimated the number of players, stating "we didn't need as many players as we thought to create the crowds we wanted the gameplay to include."[54]

It's a Knockout, a game show forcing contestants to dress up in oversized costumes, inspired the idea that the characters should "have that element of being completely uniquely, badly designed for the task that we were gonna put them through".[47] The ragdoll physics are deliberate, to avoid "hyper athletic Ninja Warrior characters" and because "falling over is funny".[47] According to Walsh, striking the right balance between funny ragdoll collisions and game performance was critical, because "as soon as you lose the ragdoll-ness of the character, you lose the comedy".[51] The character designs were inspired by the look of vinyl toys.[55]

Mediatonic began working on Season 2 before the game's release with level designer Joseph Juson, noting that it was more of an "expansion" compared to season 3 where the team tried to bring new ideas.[56]

Release

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was announced at E3 in June 2019[14] and was released on 4 August 2020 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4.[57][58] Several updates ensued for the first season[59][60][61][62] and on 8 October 2020, the medieval-themed second season was released.[63] The success prompted more hiring.[36][64]

The Chinese company Bilibili announced in August 2020 that it would be developing a mobile version for Android and iOS that would be exclusive to China.[65][66]

In February 2021, Fall Guys was announced for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, scheduled for mid 2021.[67][68] However, in April 2021, these versions of the game were delayed indefinitely, citing greater focus on cross-compatibility among all versions of the game.[2]

On 22 March 2021, Season 4 was released with a future theme but a 1980s retro style,[69][70] with new rounds, a squad mode, and daily challenges.[40][71]

In March 2021, Mediatonic and its parent company were acquired by Epic Games, subsequently absorbing features of Fortnite and Rocket League into Fall Guys since then.[72] According to Mediatonic, Epic Games have praised Mediatonic for the success of Fall Guys and began supporting their goals since the game became successful.[72] Mediatonic later announced that they will focus on adding cross-platform compatibility for all versions of Fall Guys,[73][74] utilising resources from games such as Fortnite that became available after acquisition by Epic Games.[74] The focus for adding cross-platform compatibility to Fall Guys was stated by Mediatonic to be one of their highest priorities for the game, explaining that "players will be able to stumble in harmony with their pals, regardless of their platform of choice".[74]

On 18 November 2021, Mediatonic announced through their Twitter and the Fall Guys website that Epic Games Accounts will be required in Season 6 allowing cross-platform progression between PS4 and Steam and for the ability to have custom names for Steam players.[75] It was also announced that Lobbies & Friends Lists will arrive later in Season 6, unlocking the ability to play with any on any platform linked to their Epic Games Account.[75]

Reception

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout received "generally favourable" reviews, according to review aggregator website Metacritic.[76][77]

Tom Wiggins of Stuff magazine praised the game, calling it "Super Monkey Ball for the Fortnite generation".[85] Mercury News praised the "controlled chaos" gameplay of Fall Guys, stating it to be utilising a combination of the elements from the battle royale game Fortnite and the party game Mario Party in such a way that made it "tailored to the coronavirus age".[10]

The weekend before release during a closed beta, Fall Guys briefly became the most-watched game on Twitch as well as the sixth-best-selling Steam game where it was available for pre-order.[86]

Fall Guys has been frequently compared to Among Us, in that both are online games which grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.[87][88][89][90][91]

The addition of Squad Mode in Season 4 has been positively received. Kotaku says it evokes a new perspective on intense gameplay, indicating the importance of teamwork.[31]

Ollie Toms from Rock, Paper, Shotgun praised Fall Guys for its creative approach as a battle royale game incorporating family friendly elements rather than resorting to violent themes. He praised the simplicity of the game and the diversity of content added with each season. He argues that the ragdoll physics can be both exciting and frustrating to play: "What really makes and breaks this game is the imprecision of your actions. It's not something many competitive games can get away with in the way Fall Guys does."[92]

Awards

Award Date of ceremony Category Result Ref.
Golden Joystick 2020 24 November 2020 Best Multiplayer Award Won [93]
Best Family Game Won
Best Gaming Community Nominated
PlayStation Game of the Year Nominated
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2020 10 December 2020 Best Community Support Won [94]
Best Multiplayer Game Nominated
Best Indie Game Nominated
Playstation.Blog Game of the Year 18 December 2020 Best Independent Game-Platinum Won [95]
Best Multiplayer Game-Gold Won
17th British Academy Games Awards 25 March 2021 British Game Nominated [96]
Evolving Game Nominated
Family Nominated
Multiplayer Nominated
Original Property Nominated

Sales

Within 24 hours of release, the game had an active player base of more than 1.5 million players.[97] On 10 August 2020, Devolver Digital announced 2 million copies sold on Steam.[98] During the first day of release, the servers for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout were unexpectedly overloaded due to popularity.[6][17]

The game's popularity brought several brand collaborations for custom content.[99] Shortly after release Mediatonic announced a fundraiser by which the brand that donated the most money to the charity SpecialEffect would have their custom skin featured in the game.[100]

By 26 August 2020, more than 7 million copies of Fall Guys had been sold on Steam, and it was the most downloaded monthly PS Plus game of all time.[101] By November 2020, the game had reached more than 10 million sales on Steam.[102] According to firm Superdata the game's online revenue for PC in its first month was $185 million from 8.2 million players, making it the biggest launch on that platform since Overwatch by those metrics.[103] Multiple outlets described the game's popularity as a "phenomenon".[104][105][106][107] In December 2020, Mediatonic confirmed sales of more than eleven million copies on PC.[108]

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External links