Competitive multiplayer games are a dime a dozen these days, and even in that saturated crowd, there’s no shortage of the whacky, zany kind that tries to stand out with its unique premise. Given that that seems to be the main selling point for Knockout City, it’s going to have to do what it does really well to grab anyone’s attention, though it has to be said that based on what’s been shown of the game so far, it sure seems interesting. Here, we’re going to talk about some of the game’s biggest key points, and just why it’s got our curiosity piqued.
So let’s start off with the basics- exactly what the heck is Knockout City? Well, in simple terms, its a team-based competitive multiplayer game that throws in equal measures of action and sports. What sport exactly? The closest analog would be dodgeball. The main goal is to knock out players from enemy teams by hitting them with balls, which sounds like a really fun central mechanic to build a game around, on paper at least. There’s plenty else going on here though, so let’s talk about that for a bit.
Throwing balls at opponents and knocking them out is the main thing you need to be concerned about, of course- anybody who’s hit twice gets knocked out, and is forced to respawn, but there’s ways to avoid that as well. If a ball is thrown at you, if you’re quick enough, you can dodge the hit, or even catch the ball that’s coming at you. Meanwhile, if you’re the one who’s doing the attacking, you can even fake throw a ball and work that into your strategy. Of course, tackling opponents who’ve got a ball in their hands is also an option. There’s also some basic platforming mechanics thrown in for good measure, as well as a glider that can be used to jump across large gaps, or even get above opponents and attack them from a higher position.
You’ll have several different kinds of balls to work with in Knockout City. There’s the Moon Ball, which will do funny things with gravity and let you jump higher if you’re holding it, while anyone who gets hit with it will be sent flying. There’s the Bomb Ball, which, as its name suggests, is a time bomb that begins counting down the moment it’s picked up, and explodes upon impact. Meanwhile, funnily enough, players can even roll themselves up into a ball for teammates to use- anyone who’s hit with a human ball is immediately knocked out (rather than the two hits it ordinarily takes), but there’s also some risk involved, since opponents can also get their hands on players who’ve rolled themselves up into balls.
With Knockout City, developer Velan Studios is attempting to strike that elusive balance between being accessible and having a decent skill ceiling. The game’s controls are, as per the developers, easy to pick up and understand, evidenced by things such as hitting opponents being based not on accuracy, but on your positioning. That said, with dodges, fake throws, multiple ball types, smart positioning, and more involved, there’s plenty of ways to get an advantage over your opponents.
3V3, 4V4, FREE-FOR-ALL
Knockout City is going to launch with several different kinds of modes, and they’re all going to offer different flavours of experiences. Team modes, for instance, can be either 3v3 or 4v4, so you can either go for quick and easy matches, or something relatively more longform. Meanwhile, even though Knockout City is primarily a team-based game, there will also be free-for-all options in there for players to check out and dive into.
So exactly what modes is Knockout City going to have? At launch, the game is going to have a total of six modes. A few of these have been revealed already. There’s Team KO, which is your regular team deathmatch, in which teams get points for every opponent that is knocked out, and the team that wins two out of a total of three rounds wins the match. There’s Ball Up, a 4v4 mode in which there are no balls whatsoever to be found, which means players have to roll themselves up into balls, encouraging proper team play. Then there’s Diamond Rush, in which every defeated player drops a diamond, which awards a point upon being collected by an opponent, which means teammates can also collect those diamonds to prevent them from being picked up by the other team.
Of course, map design and variety is also crucial in any competitive multiplayer game, especially one that encourages mobility the way Knockout City does. Every map in the game is set in the titular futuristic city, and at launch, the game is going to have five maps in total. Rooftop Rumble is set on the roofs of two skyscrapers connected by a single bridge, Concussion Yard is a multi-layered map set in a construction site that is full of environmental hazards, while Knockout Roundabout is set on the city’s streets. Clearly, it seems like there’s going to be plenty of variety in terms of map design.
What’s interesting about the maps in Knockout City is that on top of the variety they seem to be promising right now, dynamism also seems to be another important aspect here, with unpredictable elements that promise to keep things fresh and interesting. For instance, in Knockout Roundabout, the streets have a lot of traffic, and you have to make sure you don’t get hit by it. Meanwhile, in Concussion Yard, there’s a giant swinging wrecking ball in the arena, which can spice things up in different ways as well. Of course, Knockout City will need to make sure that it doesn’t lean in on the unpredictability of such things too much, but we’re hoping it strikes the right balance.
Knockout City will also have clans, which are called Crews in this game. Crews can hold a total of 32 players at a time, while the game also has Crew-specific challenges and contracts. Of course, that also means there are Crew-specific rewards in the game as well. Everything from the Crew’s name and banner to its logo and even the vehicle it drives into a match with can be customized.
Customization isn’t just limited to your Crew. There’s plenty of character creation and customization options as well. Things such as your hair style, your physical attributes, your glider, your gear, and more can be customized. In fact, it seems cosmetic customization is something Knockout City is emphasizing quite a bit, with each character having 17 total cosmetic slots, with different skins, clothes, and much more available.
EA and Velan Studios have confirmed that Knockout City will feature full cross-play at launch, which means players across PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC will be able to play with and against each other- which should be a huge boost to the game, not only because of its multiplayer-centric nature, but also because of its Crews system. Additionally, the game also has cross-platform progression, so you can jump across platforms without losing any progress.
Of course, you can’t really have a live service multiplayer game these days and expect it to not have microtransactions in it. In Knockout City, those take the form of HoloBucks, which is the in-game currency. You can earn HoloBucks by progressing within the game itself, which will be tied to multiple tiers of progression (of which there’s a hundred in the game at launch), but you will also be able to buy HoloBucks using real money.
A multiplayer game launching these days lives and dies by its post-launch support, and it seems Velan Studios have big plans in place for Knockout City after it has released. The developers have confirmed that they’re going to adopt a seasonal approach for the game, with each season lasting nine weeks. Each season will bring with it new modes, maps, ball types, cosmetics, events, and more, so right now, it definitely seems like Knockout City players are going to have plenty to look forward to and engage with long after the game has released. Of course, you never know how these plans will pan out after a game has actually launched, so here’s hoping things go well for Knockout City.
If you’re planning on playing Knockout City on PC, what kind of a rig are you going to need? Well, the system requirements aren’t all that demanding. On minimum settings, 8 GB of RAM, a 3.8 GHz Intel Core i3 6300 Dual Core processor, and a GeForce GTX 660. Meanwhile, recommended settings require 16 GB of RAM, a 3.3 GHz Intel Core i5-6600 Quad Core processor, and a GeForce GTX 970.
Knockout City’s going to be free-to-play weekend immediately upon launch, which should be a big boost for the game as it looks to gather a sizable community and player base right out the gate. Following the free opening weekend, it’s still looking like it’s going to have pretty competitive pricing, costing $19.99 on all platforms that it’s releasing for.