Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout launched back in August, after several months of early access on PC, and was almost an instant viral hit. However, over the course of its first season, the initial hype and excitement for the game slowly declined as players became bored of the same levels with very little motivation to play after winning and unlocking everything. So therefore, as with many games nowadays, the game is split into seasons in order to regularly mix things up with new content and new things to do. The Fall Guys season 2 update was released on Thursday, presenting a new theme, four more levels and several other improvements and changes, but has this rekindled the success of the launch of the game, or is it simply not enough to keep fans engaged in the long run?
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Mediatonic’s colour of choice is medieval for season 2. This serves as the theme for the new season to differentiate it from season 1 and any subsequent seasons. This is the most immediately noticeable change, and the user interface (UI) and music have had a medieval overhaul. The musical theme of the main menu and the levels themselves have had a medieval remix and are undeniably as catchy as the original. Combined with a revamped UI, this helps to make the game feel fresh and new again, even if we’ll eventually become sick of the new music after hearing it a thousand times after failing to secure the victory crown.
The theme continues into the new cosmetics, which are available both through levelling up or by purchasing with kudos or crowns. Players can now dress up as a bean-shaped orc, knight, dragon, princess and more. The game now has a wide array of different cosmetic styles that players can equip and are quite in-depth with various colours, patterns and faces that can be customised. This in itself should keep players coming back as they can return each day to see what’s new, and the style of Fall Guys allows the developers to create some really varied cosmetics.
On the official blog for season 2, Mediatonic teased that there would be “exclusive collaborations” to come, so we could see official costumes for comic book heroes or other popular culture icons. You can also now unlock and choose banners and nameplates to represent yourself; however, the titles and styles don’t signify any sort of achievement or skill level, so there’s no reason to work towards earning them and thus, their impact is very minimal apart from the fact that they provide more ways to make yourself stand out.
The New Levels
Here are my initial thoughts of the 4 new levels, specifically about what they add to the Fall Guys experience. It’s important to note that it can take a long time to actually play these levels as there are now 29 total levels, and its almost completely random for what will be up next (besides team game where there must be even teams and finale rounds). This issue could have been easily fixed if Mediatonic had included a custom match function where players could have the ability to play specific levels to practice or to just mess about with friends.
Wall Guys: Provides a completely new dynamic of play with players having to work together to move blocks to clamber over walls. In reality, very few people work together and instead just try to screw each other over (rightfully so?), which can get rather frustrating and messy. Still technically a race, but it is much slower as you must pieces together a path of blocks to get to the finish. You must rely heavily on the mantling mechanic to get onto blocks, the issue here is that this mechanic is rather unreliable and clumsy to use despite apparent improvements being made with this update.
Knight Fever: Touted as the new hardest level by the developers, this level has several new obstacles such as swinging scythes, spikey logs and drawbridges. This race level is quite short, which allows for a faster pace and therefore it is less boring than something like See-Saw. It fully embraces the medieval theme and is overall pretty fun. The new obstacles could be used in other levels for new level variations, and there is plenty of room for alterations to be made with Knight Fever itself with variations.
Hoopsie Legends: This level is more frantic than the team version of this mode, Hoopsie Daisy. This level also features movable blocks, but teamwork here is even less common, and you end up moving a block all by yourself only for someone else to steal the hoop you were going for. Gold rings are also worth 5 points as with Hoopsie Daisy, but as the goal is six in this new level, I think five points is too high as its almost an instant win. Overall the movable block mechanic is a feature that could be used again in new modes as it can provide entirely new ways to play.
Egg Siege: Like Hoopsie Legends, this mode is more of an evolution of an existing one, Egg Scramble, so it isn’t as new as Knight Fever or Wall Guys. This version seems like a more elaborate version of the other egg game with deeper ‘nests’, drawbridge, and a larger play area. Any complaints that you might have about Egg Scramble will carry over here, but anything you liked may not carry over due to the added obstacles and larger area, which slows down the pace. Regardless it is nice to see that Mediatonic are willing to use pre-existing mechanics in future modes to mix things up – this ensures that the levels remain easy to understand but also feel new.
Other New Features
One of the biggest new features besides the levels themselves is the show selector. For the first week of season 2 players can choose the additional mode known as Gauntlet Showdown where you can play only gauntlet levels – i.e., only races. This is a godsend for people who hate the annoying tail-tag or team levels. However, this does mean that every finale in this mode is Fall Mountain why is by far the worst final round and the most frustrating to lose. The future sounds promising in regards to this feature as Mediatonic can create some interesting limited-time modes which shake up the typical structure of an episode with “some extra spicy limited-time events throughout the season” as they also tease on their blog; the launch trailer itself teased a ‘Slime Survivor’ show.
Almost all of the existing levels have had visual improvements/ updates with the launch of season 2, and this is mostly for the better. The dangers of obstacles are now clearer, and the changing of colour palettes for some levels is refreshing. These small changes go a long way in making the game feel new again, as it gives the impression that the game is gradually improving in ways that aren’t initially obvious. However, while the colour changes to the final round ‘Hex-A-Gone’ make the level look a little better, it is also now a bit harder to see the difference between the tier than you on and the one below you, and there’s also less of a visible change for tiles that have been stepped on. Nevertheless, the small adjustments can always be worked on in the future to fine-tune the visual aesthetics.
Unfortunately, there’s still an underlying feeling of disappointment with this update. By creating a live-service game like this, the idea of a new season leads many to expect a big change with loads of new content. However, despite being labelled by many as a Battle Royale, Fall Guys is a new genre entirely with its gameshow like format, meaning that there’s not much of a precedent about what to expect for a new season. Online I’ve seen people saying that they expected 10+ new levels so that you’d be playing new ones more often than the old ones, and while I do believe that this is way too much to demand from the developers (especially given the current situation) a couple more than four would have been nice.
It is also disheartening to see seemingly small issues go untouched with this update. For example, players on Steam still can’t create custom usernames, something which should not be an issue in a 2020 multiplayer game. Likewise, it’s absurd to see the changes they’ve made to Jump Showdown where the speed of the obstacle doesn’t change, and that multiple people can win the crown if the time runs out, although it does seem as though the latter is a bug and will hopefully soon be patched. Connection issues and disconnects are still common, which are rightfully super annoying, but this is an issue with many games that are this popular and I’m sure that fixing it is a priority at Mediatonic. Another small nitpick is that it would be nice if every map had a more in-depth visual reskin to match the medieval theme of the new season.
One feature that I’ve been hoping for and was expecting is a stats page. A way to view how many wins you’ve got, average placement, playtime or even which modes you’re best at would be a very nice feature to help track your progress and compare how good you are with friends. It makes wins feel pointless when there’s no in-game way to see your achievements besides your quantity of the crown currency go up by one but the fact that you can earn these crowns just levelling up, regardless of if you win or not, really diminishes their value.
In-depth stats can give players something to work towards besides just trying to win over and over again while playing the same levels over and over again. Of course, there are still achievements and trophies to work towards but once you’ve completed them (if you’ve somehow earned the ‘infallible’ one), there’s little else to aim for. A stats page will allow people to see how they’re improving and what they need to work on and, if anything, it just shows that their time spent on the game hasn’t gone to waste. However, Mediatonic may be reluctant to add a stats page as it could make the game too competitive-focused, which doesn’t line-up with the atmosphere they want to create for the game and could lead to an elitist attitude from some players who insult people will lower stats. One could argue that the emphasis should be just on fun, not desperately chasing better stats.
This issue comes down to the fact that Fall Guys has a bit of an identity crisis. On the one hand, Fall Guys is a game about stumbling bean-shaped beings clambering over each other and falling over every few seconds in a comedic fashion, and on the other hand, it’s a highly competitive battle royale where players are determined to master after facet of each level in order to be the best. The developers desire for the game to remain ‘casual’ doesn’t work for a game this popular as there’s now a diverse range of players who all want different things, and often the most vocal group are the ‘hardcore gamers’ who demand fairness and balance in the mechanics and levels.
However, videogames aren’t successful only if they become an Esport, games can be competitive fun, but they don’t have to be taken completely seriously. This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to care too much about your performance, but rather players should aim to focus on the fun factor over winning as ultimately, there can only be one victor. Although, as mentioned earlier, there still needs to be something to work towards for the player, and due to the popularity of the game, getting a win isn’t very special anymore; in fact getting over 10 wins is seemingly pretty common if you look on Reddit or streaming sites. Ultimately when you’re not winning in a multiplayer game, it just isn’t as fun, and it’s a constant challenge for all developers to find ways for their games to be fun regardless of how well the player is doing.
In conclusion, the initial offerings for season 2 are rather underwhelming, but Mediatonic has provided the groundwork for more interesting additions to the game, and the promise of more mid-season updates is reassuring. Like we saw with the update in the middle of season 1, we could see level variations for the 4 new additions and potentially other crazy additions such as ‘Big Yeetus’. Unfortunately, though, once you’ve seen everything that’s new (which won’t take long if you get lucky with the level rotation) there’s not much reason to continue playing. Nonetheless, the season 2 update is a step in the right direction, and it shows that the developers are willing to support the game with seasonal updates, but the consistency of the mid-season updates will be important. Plus, if they manage to keep on top of the bugs and glitches, a dedicated player base should persist.