E3 2019 was full of some huge trailers and presentations for some of 2019 and 2020’s biggest games, but I found the show to be severely lacking when it came to hands-on experiences. That’s where Fall Guys came in.
As I wandered over to Devolver Digital’s now-traditional car park across the road from the heaving Los Angeles Convention Center, where all the AAA publishers were showing off their AAA games with their AAA budgets, I got to take a look look at some of the more curious indie titles coming in the next year or so.
And so it was that I came to fall for Fall Guys. I’d only been vaguely aware of the title from a reveal trailer a month or so prior, but when I was guided into developer Mediatonic’s caravan (that had been kitted out to look like a child’s soft play area, along with several stations on which to play the game) I knew I was in for a treat.
It was also in that moment that I understood why I’d been asked to take my shoes off – a brave request to ask of anyone who’s spent all day walking around a busy convention centre, I have to say.
But I digress. Fall Guys is basically Gang Beasts meets Takeshi’s Castle, with just a dash of Mario Party. That means that it’s also incredibly fun, and very, very silly. I played two full rounds of Fall Guys before moving on, and realized it was the first game I’d played all E3 that I was actively sad to have to walk away from.
There’s also a battle royale element to Fall Guys, but only in that you start with 100 players before subsequent minigames whittle the number down to maybe a dozen or so. I was told that the game will feature around 30 minigames at launch. For the purposes of my demo we saw three minigames, and played with four other human players while the rest of the 100 were bots.
We were in a caravan in LA, to be fair. I wouldn’t have wanted to squeeze 100 people in there.
There seems to be enough madness and variety in the rapid fire rounds to keep things fluid and fun. Like Gang Beasts, your control options are limited. Once you’ve customised your little blob of a character, you can jump, dive, run, and grab, and that’s about it – but that’s all you need.
The first round saw all 100 players race to a finish line, while jumping through various doors along the way. The caveat was that certain doors were fake, meaning you’d either blast through unscathed, or run face first into an embarrassing failure.
Luck was obviously an element in this round, but the rapid-fire nature of the game means that even if you were to lose and be eliminated, it’s not long before you can jump back into and play again.
The second round saw the remaining players in an arena with various platforms and obstacles. Certain players started with a tail, while others did not. If the timer got to zero and you were not in possession of a tail, you would be eliminated.
This led to a fairly intense 60 player game of tag, in which players were desperately jumping, scratching, and clawing to grab a tail, before then realising that they’d still need to evade other players once they’d found one.
I enjoyed this round a ton, but found it to be the weakest simply because the bots weren’t as interesting to play such a round with as I know dozens of human players would be. That’s certainly not a criticism of the game, but an acknowledgement that I know the more human players get involved, the more mayhem will be had.
The third and final round saw the last batch of players scrambling up an inflatable obstacle course to claim the crown at the top – and the overall victory. Now, I consider myself fairly professional in demo environments, but as I clambered up the obstacle course avoiding swinging mallets and giant balls in search of glory, I was swearing, yelling, and generally slightly unhinged.
But that’s what Fall Guys does to you. It does what Mario Kart, Mario Party, Worms, Monopoly – any of the best party games – do to you; it instills in you a burning desire to win, but makes the route to that victory as insane as it possibly can. The result is hilarious, stressful, infuriating, and so much fun.
I can’t wait to get back on Fall Guys when it arrives on PC and PS4 in 2020, because I know it’s the perfect game to play with my mates before a night out. It’ll also make me want to deck them, but swings and roundabouts.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.