Some might remember that I wrote about “Fall Guys” once before, when the game was first released near the onset of the pandemic and amassed huge popularity in a short time-frame. It was the perfect game at the perfect moment – bright and cheerful to lift people’s spirits, fun to watch on streaming services and extremely replayable.
Originally titled “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout,” on June 21 developer Mediatonic saw fit to rebrand the game as simply “Fall Guys.” It’s also gone cross-platform and free-to-play, meaning anyone can hop on the device of their choice and play online with whomever else. Accordingly, they’ve stepped up the production and sales of cosmetic items to compensate for making the game free.
“Fall Guys” is a nice change of pace in the online multiplayer space. So many competitive and especially battle royale games focus on ways to kill your competition with guns, explosives, swords and other weaponry. “Fall Guys” rejects that approach, instead placing players in a series of cartoony obstacle courses.
The competitive spirit is still firmly in place, of course. You can knock your opponents into hazards, grab them, push them into goo and off cliffs and so on. The characters, called beans, often pile atop one another or get tossed around like ragdolls. “Fall Guys” can get surprisingly brutal for a game completely bereft of weaponry or any direct violence – that’s part of the charm.
It’s refreshing to see a game without genuine combat see so much success. In fact, “Fall Guys” reportedly attracted 20 million players during its first 48 hours of switching to the free-to-play model and launching on Xbox and Nintendo Switch. That’s not bad at all for a title that’s already nearly two years old.
In a way, its all-ages approach to competitive gaming reminds me of Rocket League, which has also managed to stay relevant over the years despite precious few changes being made to its core gameplay. Both titles launched as traditional games before switching to the free-to-play model long after release.
Both games reconciled matters with their established playerbase by rewarding those who had already bought the game with several exclusive in-game cosmetics. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something. Those same types of items are, of course, the lifeblood of free-to-play games – and from a financial perspective, it typically works out extremely well for game publishers.
I’m rarely one to plunk down cash on microtransactions, and I feel even less compelled to do so with “Fall Guys.” Like “Fortnite,” the game’s popularity has led to the creation of promotional crossover costumes for franchises such as “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Among Us” and “Assassin’s Creed.” That’s neat, but plenty of people are already running around with these skins, and “Fall Guys” is a chaotic game where up to 60 players can appear on screen at once. Personally, I went the practical route and chose a free, unpopular color for my character so I would never get lost.
I’ve found myself gravitating toward solo play, but there are duos and squads playlists too. There’s a good variety of obstacle courses available across all of them, but playing on teams opens the door to more arenas featuring improvised sports games rather than the usual races to the finish and “don’t fall off” types of challenges.
Shows start off with an overwhelming 60 players, quickly whittling down about one-third of the competition each round until anywhere from 8-12 beans remain standing for a final elimination. This is where “Fall Guys” gets especially intense, and it’s testament to the fact that you don’t need guns, gore or edginess to make a video game a nail-biter.
Being an all-ages game and free to play, I’d wholeheartedly recommend “Fall Guys” to anyone with even a passing interest in online gaming. It’s also nice to see a battle royale game that isn’t a shooter – it’s closer to a 3D platformer than anything else. I’ve spent exactly $0 on “Fall Guys” and I’ve been having a great time. The game is available for Windows PC, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
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