Knockout City Review

The look of modern team-based multiplayer games has taken many different forms in recent years, from the car-versus-football game Rocket League to the more recently popular hero shooter Valorant. While developers have innovated quite a bit on this incredibly broad genre, EA and Mario Kart Live : Home Circuit developer Velan Studios’ dodgebrawler Knockout City brings dodgeball-like “whack” in an all-new style. The team-based multiplayer approach shakes up the live game.

Back in February, Knockout City was revealed during a Nintendo Direct presentation, which included a strange trailer that suggested the game was having some sort of identity crisis. While Knockout City still seems to be struggling with its identity, it captures the core elements of team play while delivering a fresh experience.

knockout  city  Dodgebrawl  catch The concept of a team-based dodgeball game sounds simple enough. In Knockout City, players will participate in an intense game of dodgeball known as Dodgebrawls, where Crews will battle it out in various locations around Knockout City. The game is rooted in its Team KO mode, which pits 2 teams of 3 against each other, where the first team to reach 10 KOs wins the round, while the best 2 of the 3 teams win Contest.

During their journey through Knockout City, players will have the opportunity to progress through what Velan Studios calls a seasonal “free social battle pass,” with tiered unlocks featuring each player in a random order. Players complete contracts to earn XP and decorations, and even join clan-style crews of up to 32 brawlers for unique rewards. Velan Studios even promises regular updates with new maps, special balls, cosmetics, weekly limited-time modes, and more, starting with the launch of Season 1 on May 25.

In Knockout City, players are officially knocked out when they are hit twice by a dodgeball, or by a deadlier type of ball, such as an opponent. Not only can players throw “Ball Up” balls at opponents through teammates, but a special ball is randomly selected every game to keep the brawl fresh, such as a sniper ball that flies in a straight line when thrown, or a bomb that sticks to the ball The ball surfaced and detonated shortly after being picked up. Additionally, Party Brawl mode turns Knockout City on its head, allowing players to run wild by only spawning special balls, while Diamond Dash mode lets players compete for points in fast-paced action rather than just knockout matches.

Although the game focuses on accessibility and is superficially simple, it has a high skill ceiling for those looking to get competitive. The controls are simple : Players can throw, pass and catch dodgeballs, dodge, intercept opponents, perform double jumps, glide through the air and throw slick and curveballs. A clever lob over a building or a charged curveball off a corner can make for some incredibly satisfying knockdown shots.

knockout  city  ball  up If teamwork makes dreams come true, players in Knockout City have ample opportunity to make their dreams come true. The game’s mechanics allow for countless different team-based plays to ensure some sweet knockouts. While difficult to pull off, the risk-reward tradeoff of a fully charged Ball Up is appropriate, resulting in slow but devastating ultimate throws capable of knocking out multiple opponents simultaneously on impact.

It doesn’t take long to get the hang of Knockout City, and with the right teamwork flow, players can streamline a coordinated Knockout to knock their opponents to pieces. Visual cues in Knockout City let players know if they’re being aimed and where the ball is likely to come from. Audio cues are clear when players are hit by the ball, and Knockout City’s carefully crafted sounds help players not only see, but hear how close the ball is to them. Players without a microphone will also be able to communicate with teammates using specific in-game calls.

Knockout City also allows players to get creative and devise their own tactics, such as coordinating 2 simultaneous throws to an opponent so they have no chance of catching both balls. With one player distracting an opponent while another throws a quick, charged shot from behind or a curveball from the side, players can tackle opponents so they have no dodge balls to throw. Players can even grab Balled Up opponents and use them against their own teammates, or throw them over the edge of the map to take down opponents faster.

knockout  city  jukebox  junction Different maps in Knockout City give players a variety of ways to get around, such as the pneumatic tubes in Back Alley Brawl and the gusts that allow players to glide through Rooftop Rumble. However, these gimmicks tend to be some of the only defining characteristics of the game’s different maps, as most of them look and feel very similar. While consistency is good, Knockout City’s lack of map variety doesn’t give players a lot of interesting environmental variety, though Velan Studios insists there’s a deep lore behind the city.

Also, it’s clear that Knockout City draws inspiration from multiple places, but doesn’t nail its own identity. While its simpler Fortnite-like character designs are varied and accessible, the game’s art direction is sometimes uninspired, with many characters’ facial models looking like they were accidentally squashed during development.

Dodgebrawl matches narrated by a 3-in-1 referee, sportscaster, and DJ certainly injected some much-needed life into the world of Knockout City. While the jazzy soundtrack by musical duo The Soundlings can be repetitive at times, it does keep up with the uptempo beats of the intense Dodgebrawls.

knockout  city  crew  car Knockout City is a genre-defying team multiplayer game where players are not just teammates, but each other’s tools and assets. Despite Knockout City’s difficulty finding its own identity, the game excels in terms of accessibility while boasting a high skill ceiling, which makes it easy to pick up and even easier to keep playing.

Knockout City is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X. Game Rant provided the PC code for this review.

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