There aren’t a lot of feelings similar to looking across the room at a friend’s smug face after they’ve won a close race in Mario Kart. That intensity and frustration is built into zany multiplayer games by design and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is no different.
Developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, which comes to PS4 and PC in 2020, is battle royale game show where one hundred, or another arbitrary amount of people, compete in a series of three-game show-like modes until one player comes out on top.
“There are a lot of amazing battle royale games, but we just love the elimination aspect of them,” Mediatonic senior game designer Joe Walsh tells Variety. “We took it as an opportunity to do something new with that space, large scale multiplayer is a relatively new genre and there are a lot of ways to take it in new directions.”
That fresh direction is round-based multiplayer, where the number of players gets whittled down after each round.
Different modes include a door-run like game where everyone tries to find the one fake wall out of many real ones, a mad dash up a mountain with falling boulders and moving obstacles, and a game of steal the tail where only half of all players spawn with a tail—everyone else has to steal one and whoever has one at the end of the round moves on. Rounds only last a couple of minutes or so, so the games are far shorter than the typical match of Fortnite.
“There’s a very high skill ceiling in most battle royale games and we wanted to apply the genre to a Mario Kart type of experience,” said Mediatonic producer Luke Borrett. “It’s easy to pick up and a bit harder to master but it still has the chaos factor. Rounds are short and you could be out quickly or you could win on your first go.”
“Fall Guys” is inspired by the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle, known as Most Extreme Elimination Challenge in the United States, and it’s wacky and off the wall vibe. Borrett, Walsh, and the rest of the team at Mediatonic took inspirations from some of the specific games from Takeshi’s Castle in creating modes for Fall Guys while also using their own ideas to build games from scratch.
“We basically have a giant spreadsheet and anyone in the office can type an idea in, good or bad,” Walsh said. “Then we’ll go away, go through them and flesh them out, and then rate them between one and ten and move forward with the best one. Once we’re happy with the gameplay we get the art team in and learn how to randomize it to keep it fresh.”
While the demo I played in a short session at E3 only included the three games mentioned above. Walsh talked about other modes like one where all players were put on a giant seesaw making it a challenge to decide to go with the mob or take risks and go off on your own. Another idea partnered players up and tied them together while another split the entire server into two teams. Mediatonic plans to release a continuous stream of games after release to keep players interested.
For now, Mediatonic is still grinding to make the best individual games they can launch with a hefty amount of variety in gameplay. Lucky for them the core of the game, the zany playable fall guys the whole thing is named after, make it easier to design modes for chaotic fun.
“We had a whole bunch of names we thought would fit. We were going to call if Fool’s Gauntlet or Cool Beans. We though Fall Guys was the best fit, they take the hit and just get back up.” Walsh laughed. “A lot of the heart and soul of the game is the fall guy,” Borrett added. “So a lot of the process was finding out how to make them awesome.”