Reviews - Updated on April 2, 2022

Relevant for the platform: XBOXSX

Multiplayer games are now trying to make everything more accessible for those who do not want to sit in a voice chat. The trend was set by Apex Legends with its ingenious labeling system. In Knockout City, everything is also great with this – you can make beautiful joint attacks without saying a word, and get great pleasure from the game.

Ball in the face

Knockout City is a dodgeball game where two teams of three throw balls at each other. These can be both ordinary balls and special ones that change in each match. But the most powerful ball is the human one. By pressing a certain button, you will curl up and start rolling on the ground.

If you want, stand still in the hope that you will be lifted. If you want, specifically roll up to your teammates, expressing your readiness to fight, and they will automatically pick you up. Then they will either immediately throw you towards the opponent, or charge you in a couple of seconds, after which you will turn into a bomb and fly wherever your eyes look, falling on enemies from above.

A human ball does twice as much damage as a regular ball.

Everything ingenious is simple, and in Knockout City this mechanic works like clockwork. In matches, everything happens quickly: each player has only two health units, there are usually few balls, and whoever managed to pick them up gets an advantage. Therefore, it is important to quickly respond to each confrontation – if you understand in time how you can get the most out of a particular situation, your chances of winning will increase significantly.

The possibilities of the player are not limited to this. Balls can be thrown just like that, or you can do somersaults and a turn before this, performing hinged or twisted throws. Sometimes you do it for beauty, sometimes you do it to hit opponents who ran behind cover and are sure that they are completely safe. With these techniques, the balls will fly in an arc – either fly around some wall to the left or right, or be thrown over a fence or a bridge.

The main thing is to roll on time.

Players who are targeted by opponents (an upcoming attack is indicated by a red frame around the edges of the screen) have several ways to avoid injury. You can simply dash to the side – it is used both for dodging and for pushing other players to shoot down their aim or take the ball away. Or you can take a chance and grab a flying ball – if you press the button in time, you won’t get any damage, and you can throw the projectile back.

Thanks to all this, the duel each time takes place according to a different scenario. And with the ability to deceive your opponent by swinging the ball but not throwing it, it’s even more interesting to come up with tactics on the go. Someone has not yet understood the mechanics well and becomes a priority target – in the round you need to score only 10 points, and therefore you try to spend more time on weak links. Someone is very good, and you exchange balls with him until someone makes a mistake.

It’s all about timings.

In one of the matches, I played against a team that caught everything that we threw at it – it seemed that it was impossible to break through the defense of the enemy squad just like that. Then I chose a different strategy – I watched who someone from my team was focusing on, and ran with him. As a result, the opponent caught the first ball, but the next one immediately flew into it. As a result, we won, and Knockout City once again showed that a team game is possible even without communication – there would be a desire.

One more match and sleep

The main thing is that the gameplay feels fresh thanks to the original idea and the lack of alternatives, and the game itself does not get bored after a few hours. Earlier, I already wrote about my impressions of the open beta testing and it seemed like I could have played enough even then, but in the full version, I sat in the same way and waited for the next match. Although there are not many buttons on the gamepad, and the character does not get new abilities, there is always something to learn in Knockout City. The entry threshold for the game is low, but the difference between a beginner and an experienced fighter is enormous.

Do you really need balls?

The depth of gameplay in the main mode is enough so that there is no need for others. They are here: in one there are no ordinary balls and you only need to throw people, in the other only special balls with unique properties are available, in the third you get points for collecting diamonds that fall out of defeated enemies. But in all these chaos modes, a little more than necessary – the same special balls are special because they seem to be more effective when there are few of them and you managed to stumble upon them.

Special thanks to the developers for the timely launch of the rating mode – they did not delay with it, and after five days it was available for players of level 10 and above. Everything is the same as everywhere else: victories and defeats increase or decrease the rating (except for the bronze league, where you don’t lose your position when you lose), and at the end of the season, rewards are given depending on the highest rank. The season lasts a little over two months.

No one will remain alive.

Customization is also good – when you get new hairstyles, costumes, gliders, taunts and victory poses, you immediately change them. However, there is no desire to chase after these items – something falls out by chance for leveling up, and thank God. I don’t want to go into the store and check what is sold there for in-game currency. Therefore, a shareware distribution model would hardly work here.

This time Electronic Arts acted smarter than in the case of Rocket Arena. On all platforms, the game was made free for ten days, so that those who wish could familiarize themselves and, if necessary, buy the full version. After that, the game will remain free to EA Play subscribers on PC and PS4, as well as to Game Pass subscribers. In addition, both cross-play and cross-progress are supported here – I played on the Xbox, then switched to the Switch, and all the achievements were transferred. The portable version, by the way, is very worthy – you don’t feel any discomfort either because of the graphics or because of the controls. There are two modes on the hybrid console:

Knockout City: Обзор

Performance mode (60 fps, but soapy graphics).

Knockout City: Обзор

Graphics mode (30 fps, but good graphics).

It will be a pity if Knockout City dies quickly, but so far there are no prerequisites for this. The audience greeted the game very warmly (the ratings on Steam are absurd – 96% positive reviews!), And the publisher is promoting it well. Of course, after the free period, users will decrease, but there is a suspicion that the project will be able to stay afloat. Fun, high-quality and original entertainment, which I want to wish only prosperity.

Pros: original idea; not devoid of depth gameplay – there is always something to learn; terribly exciting matches, each time overflowing with cool moments; the desire to play another match does not disappear for a long time; support for cross-play and cross-progress; the presence of a rating mode almost from the start.

Cons: I don’t want to learn how to get certain cosmetic items.

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