The competitive gaming genre is saturated with one-hit wonders, which are here today and gone tomorrow. It’s crucial not to just stand out from the crowd but to have some form of long-term jeopardy behind it. If not, they run the risk of having today’s hot news turning into tomorrow’s empty ghost server. Making a good first impression is important, then.
Knockout City is a dodgeball team-based multiplayer game. You’ll duke it out on the streets of the future to become the ultimate brawler around the block. Within a few moments of jumping into a game, I was immediately pulled in with the high-octane gameplay and vibrant surroundings. Dodgeball may not be an Olympic sport, but in this future – it certainly should be.
The Game Mechanics
The aim of the game is to snag dodgeballs across the map and hurl them at your adversaries to try to diminish your opponent’s two health icons. There are numerous ways you can throw a ball at your foes, with some of the strikes looking rather awesome to pull off. Different throws will head towards the opponents at different angles and speeds. It’s always good to switch up what type of throw your about to use, as your opponent won’t know what to expect next. When both health icons have been destroyed, the foe will be knocked out and then respawned back into the match.
You’ll have to be careful, as you won’t want to be hit by any incoming aggression. If a dodgeball is heading your way and you don’t think you can dodge the little bugger, you can attempt to catch the dodgeball being flung at you. When executing a catch, I found that the timing needed to be exactly right; otherwise, the ball would hit my character with full force. If the ball were caught successfully, I would return the favour and volley the ball right back at them with double the might. Dodgeballs are not the only small round items that can be walloped at foes. You can roll into a small ball, allowing a teammate to grasp hold and throw you at an opponent, or they can perform an ultimate attack that would cause a blast to a selected area.
In your hot pursuits for victory, you can use the dash ability. I would often rely on this to trek across the map reasonably fast and bash into my rivals. If I can’t have the ball, no one else can. On top of this, every match you enter, you have a high-tech turtle shell on your back that can be used as a glider when jumping from high platforms. This wannabe parachute would give you the edge so you can swoop down onto your competition. The gameplay was rather straightforward and simple enough to pick up, but it’s clear to see how a lot of teamwork and tactics could be the difference between winning and losing matches.
Balls, Balls, and… More Balls
There were several different dodgeballs available to try out. The main ball, which would always be on every map, was a regular red and white dodgeball. However, there would also be randomized special style dodgeballs that would make a guest appearance in each match. These dodgeballs would have different effects that would keep the dynamic interesting.
Some of the balls were self-explanatory, like the Bomb Ball that would explode after a duration of time and the Sniper Ball that would lock onto your opponents. In comparison, other balls were pretty unique and quirky. The Cage Ball, when landed on an adversary, would confine them into a cage that could then be thrown at a fellow player, or if you’re feeling really mischievous, you could lob them off the map to their impending doom. Another novelty gimmick is the Moon Ball, which would allow you to spin up into the air with low gravity and come crashing down on your oppositions as a booming meteorite.
In total, there were five areas that you could interact with. There was the Hideout Lobby, which essentially worked as a hub spot where players could meet up with other members of their team and practice the game mechanics. The remaining four areas were the game’s battlegrounds. All the maps were engaging, but my two standouts were Knockabout Roundabout and Concussion Yard.
Knockabout Roundabout was heavily futuristic, with cars driving around the city that wouldn’t be misplaced in the Jetsons. Whereas in Concussion Yard, you would need to manoeuvre around a demolition site of an old school ground, avoiding swinging wrecking balls and jumping from moving platforms to get the upper hand. We don’t need no education…no, just dodgeball.
There were three game modes available to have a scrap up in: Team KO, 1v1 Face-Off and Diamond Dash. Team KO sets two teams of 3v3 against each other. Once a team has knocked out the opposing team ten times, they will be victorious in that round. This is repeated until one team wins two rounds. 1v1 Face-Off has a similar formula, with it just being solo instead of a team and only having to knock out the opposition three times. The last mode was Diamond Dash, and to be entirely honest; I wasn’t fussed with it. Every time a player was downed, diamonds would be dropped. It’s then a mad dash by members of either team to grab as many diamonds as they can to win. This, at times, seemed rather unfair as it was not necessarily the team who got the most KOs that would ultimately be victorious. Or perhaps I’m a sore loser…
There was a good variety of different cosmetics and character customisations. You could customize your characters in a lot of detail, and for the most part, I really liked the selection of customisations available. My only slight problem was the faces; some of the face outlines looked like face structures you’d expect to see in Lazy Town. Call me strange, but I don’t think this was the aesthetic vibes they were aiming for. Thankfully, if you use the right cosmetics and outfits, this becomes barely noticeable.
I was initially drawn to try out this open beta to test out the crossplay. I played the game with my friend, and it worked out pretty well. We didn’t have any trouble setting up a team together. Unfortunately, the game did crash on us both simultaneously, which was a shame. Hopefully, they’ll be able to address small hiccups like this before the game’s launch.
Did Knockout City play like a champion, or will it inevitably be side-lined? In an overwhelmed market, it seems like, at first glance, they have done a good job at making the game stand out whilst remaining competitive and different. The mechanics are simple enough to grasp and can lead to some entertaining brawling moments. However, a lot of tactics and inch-perfect precision could be the defining reason why rounds could be won or lost. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the open beta, and the upcoming game has certainly caught my attention. I think the premise of Knockout City has a promising chance, but only time will tell.