REVIEW: ‘Knockout City’ Is Indeed, a Knockout (XSX)

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Knockout City - But Why Tho?

Knockout City is a new PvP epic dodgeball game from Velan Studios published by EA. So get ready to duck, dodge, roll, and…glide? This is not your middle school dodgeball game. It’s Dodgebrawl. Knockout City is the ultimate dodgeball game as you and your crew chuck balls, dodge balls, and be the ball in this futuristic-50s themed game. It’s so much fun, people. Let’s start there. A dodgeball video game doesn’t instantly scream epic party game necessarily. Still, Knockout City is adorned with just enough bells, whistles, and charm to go toe to toe with the likes of Rocket League in terms of games you can quickly pick up with some friends and play a few rounds.

Unlike most games these days, it is not a battle royal. Instead, the main game revolves around short 3v3 matches where teams compete to be the first to ten points in a best two out of three. The quick pace and short games keep the game fresh since there is no long waiting time if your team is losing badly to start the next one or a drawn-out duel at the end of a hard-fought round. It’s to the point and perfect for the type of game it is.

Pick up balls, hold the trigger to throw it harder, catch the oncoming balls, dodge and buck your opponents to knock balls out of their hands, turn into a ball for teammates to throw, and sprint, glide, and double jump around the maps. That’s about all there is to it. That and a few special balls that either explode, come with multiple balls, trap enemies in a cage, or other silly things. One is selected randomly at the beginning of the game to be part of the whole session. You can take two hits before going down and the other team scoring a point. But for as simple as the mechanics are, there is great skill and teamwork involved in getting hits on the other players and winning. The difficulty is just enough to be a really fun learning curve while low enough not to feel overly competitive or hard to get into.

The game has a very clear Fortnite vibe to it with especially cartoonish characters and endlessly unlockable outfits, gliders, and poses. There are no epic dances, but there is a soda bar, greaser, disco theme that sets the game apart. It mostly plays out in the varied maps and outfits, with a bit of a cadence sneaking into the voiceover. The former is quite fun, the maps all feel unique and add different elements to the game, and the futuristic version of the 50s is extra cool. But the voiceover got a bit grating after a while with how it feels like this forced cool-guy accent of some sort.

Where I can’t help be concerned is with the $30 price tag. While the game is free for its first 10 days on the market and will be included in EA Access and Xbox Game Pass, that is a steep price for a very minimalistic game. For as much as I enjoy it and as much as the seasonality will hopefully keep things fresh with new game modes, were it not on Game Pass already, I don’t know if its worth the $30 price of admission. Especially considering the onslaught of microtransactions you can participate in for cosmetic unlocks, it just seems like a strange money grab and, ultimately, a potential barrier to entry for many would-be players.

Aside from my skepticism on that front, I did have some loading issues. The first game I attempted to join did not load me in. I could hear the game going on behind my menu screen, but it never let me in. It hasn’t happened since, but it was frustrating for a first encounter. The rest of the game ran entirely smoothly, and new games loaded very quickly. The main hub also feels rather empty. I can’t tell if this was because more things will be added in the future, or if it’s meant to be some sort of practice area, but it was odd having to walk so far just to start a new match upon loading the game.

Lastly, I wish the game started with more modes. There is one other game mode, Diamond Dash, where you knock diamonds off your opponents and have to collect 30 to win. But a tournament mode would be perfect for crews looking to play more competitively or different sized teams. There is a Faceoff 1v1 mode, but a 2v2 or a 5v5 may have been nice to start with too.

One last thing I do rather appreciate is the character customizer. There is no genderization of the selections, either in body type itself or locking certain attributes to one body type or another. Every game’s character creation should be like this.

Knockout City is, indeed, a knockout. It’s absolutely a blast, and despite some small issues, it’s an entirely creative and sharp concept and execution. I only hope the fun lasts after the initial buzz and free play period dies down.

Knockout City is available now on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Knockout City
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Knockout City is, indeed, a knockout. It’s absolutely a blast, and despite some small issues, it’s an entirely creative and sharp concept and execution. I only hope the fun lasts after the initial buzz and free play period dies down.