We're going to be honest - we were never particularly excited for Knockout City. The trailers failed to make an impression and it whiffed of a game that would be gone just as fast as it came. But social media has been buzzing with gamers surprised at just how good the game is. So with very little willpower, we took a dive into the game through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. To our surprise, the findings have proven to be very positive, and we can definitively say we're hooked and excited for the future of Knockout City.
You're most likely aware of the premise of the game. It's a highly competitive take on dodgeball, built around multiplayer, and complimented with expressive visuals. But there's so much more to it than that. After five brief tutorials, you quickly realise there's a lot of skill required outside of throwing balls across the map. There are skill shots, variants such as the bomb ball to use, and a wide range of traversal abilities to learn.
What makes it all click though is the feedback of each action. Running, jumping and gliding feels wonderful and incredibly easy to get to grips with. It took a few matches to get used to 'jump' being tied to the B and Y buttons, but now we're able to parkour our way through each of the various stages. The powerful thud of each ball also feels insanely gratifying - as does KO'ing people. Pulling off a trick shot - such as curving the ball by holding B when you release it - never failed to put a smile on our faces when we pulled it off.
It's a game that's incredibly easy to pick up, but as players grow in skill, it will undoubtedly become much harder to master. As you quickly rush to find balls across the map, other players will be gunning you down - but you're not completely unarmed. If you have the reflexes, you can dodge and even pick up an incoming ball as it homes in on you. Outside of trick shots, you can also fake out opponents by teasing a lunge of the ball towards them. This opens them up for some easy hits as they panic and block ahead of you firing an attack. It's extremely gratifying, especially when you're one-on-one with an opponent in a game of chicken.
Customising your character is also a blast. Levelling up unlocks new cosmetic items, and we really hope the game is supported in the long run to add more and more items to deck out your character with. Since we're in the early days, many players look fairly similar, but as the weeks go on no doubt we'll see some inventive creations. It would be great to see some collaborations with other EA properties in the game, bringing a small taste of Super Smash Bros into its roster of characters. Fortnite has worked hard to create some truly great skins - no matter what your opinion on the game is - so we'd love to see that same imagination delivered here in the future.
If there are any reservations we hold, it's with the lack of content at launch. There are only a handful of maps and a few modes. For most Xbox players diving into the game through Game Pass, this isn't a deal breaker, but for anyone dropping hard earned cash on the game it's worth noting. There's a solid foundation here and it would be a shame to see it go down the same road as EA's latest venture, Rocket Arena, which seems to have been left in the dust. The day one inclusion into EA Play was a fantastic idea, but we hope both the game's creators and community work together to build it up in the coming months.
Knockout City seems to have hit us like a ball out of nowhere. Despite its underwhelming marketing, it's quickly becoming one of our favourite titles of the year. Whether that sentiment will remain over the course of the following months as support for the game either grows or withers remains to be seen, but there's the makings of something special here. Much like how games such as Rocket League took the world by storm, Knockout City has that same potential, but it's going to need a lot of communication not just from the devs, but the community as well.
We truly recommend checking it out.
Have you been playing Knockout City recently? Let us know in the comments below.