I was a little surprised to hear that Season 2 of Fall Guys – a game that only launched at the beginning of August – would be arriving in early October. That seems an awfully short span of time for a “season”, though admittedly Fall Guys has hardly been a game that follows the beaten path. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of seasons in online games, it’s something that popular titles like Fortnite have been doing for several years. In short, each season brings new content and new opportunities to progress. In Fall Guys’ case, this means new mini-games and new cosmetics.
But Fall Guys has some issues, and I’d much rather see time and attention spent on improving the core experience before adding new content.
And I know: it isn’t just an either/or case. But at least some of the development time dedicated to building new content for the game – if indeed it is new and wasn’t cut from the initial release – could be reallocated to fixing some of the problems Fall Guys has. Most egregiously I’m thinking of cheating.
I know, right? What kind of pathetic basement-dwelling low-life needs to cheat in a fun little game like Fall Guys? It’s sad, really. But unfortunately, at least on the PC version where I play, it’s becoming much more common. When I first played the game in early August, I didn’t encounter a single cheater. And for the first couple of weeks or so that continued to be the case; the thought never occurred to me that cheating would even exist in a game like this. But in the last couple of weeks cheating has become commonplace. I would guess that roughly one in five games I play now has at least one cheater; some have several.
I don’t pretend to understand the technical side of how the cheats and exploits work, but in-game they appear to give characters the ability to move very fast, fly, and even clip through obstacles and scenery. This gives cheaters a massive advantage, and I’ve played some racing rounds where one or two cheaters were able to qualify before everyone else had even got past the first quarter of the course. This has been going on for some time, and it clearly hasn’t been fixed or patched out yet, but it should be a priority.
When an online game becomes plagued by cheaters, it becomes offputting for everyone else. What’s the point in continuing to progress through the rounds to make it to a finale when you know you’re going to lose to a cheater who can fly all the way to the top of the mountain before you’re even a quarter of the way there? Or who can levitate over the course while everyone else has to hop from tile to tile? There’s no fun in that! And it’s going to result in people no longer wanting to play.
There are other issues too, most notably lopsided teams in some of the team games. I made note of this when I put the rounds in a ranked list, but some of the team games can be horribly uneven. Even a single extra player can provide teams with a huge advantage in some cases, and while the patch notes for a recent update claimed to have fixed the problem, I’ve continued to see unbalanced teams often.
Some rounds need tweaking too, at least from my experience. Perfect Match – a game that involves memorising tiles to avoid falling – routinely ends with hardly anyone being eliminated, and despite the fact that it’s a very enjoyable round, surely something’s got to change there. Likewise Roll Out, which is another round I have a lot of fun with, can take forever as it just isn’t that difficult, meaning it takes a long time to eliminate the right number of players. Better to fix the current rounds than work on a bunch of new ones, right?
Though the server situation has improved massively since the game’s launch, there are still disconnects and failures to connect to contend with. It can be very disheartening to make it all the way to the finale only to get disconnected from the server!
I don’t want to just attack Fall Guys. This is developer Mediatonic’s first big hit, and I genuinely want the game to continue to be the roaring success that it has been this month. According to sales reports, the PC version alone has sold over seven million copies! That’s an astonishing accomplishment for any game, let alone one developed by a small studio. It would be such a shame to see that hard work undone if players are driven away by cheating and other unfixed issues.
Preparing a big update – or “season” – as we head into the autumn does make sense for a business perspective, and I understand that Mediatonic and publisher Devolver Digital recognise they’ve got a hit on their hands and want to keep players engaged. But I’d caution them by saying this: new content will only achieve that objective if players believe that games are fair and that the rules apply to everyone. If cheating continues to run rampant, and cheaters continue to get away scot-free, it won’t matter how much new content is available because there’ll be no one coming back to play it.
Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to stamping out cheating and exploits is part of the job for any company that wants its multiplayer title to be a success. The moment an exploit or cheat is identified it needs to be patched out; Fall Guys has only released a couple of patches since launch, and by now they must know how players are able to exploit the game to fly, move quickly, clip, etc. Quicker fixes for cheats is a must – and any player found cheating needs to be permanently banned from the game.
The most successful online games take a tough stance on cheating. It’s a shame that it exists, that there are people so scummy as to cheat in a game like this. But not understanding it or taking a dim view won’t make it go away, and with the PC version of the game not even using player’s gamertags/Steam names, identifying cheaters to report them to the developer is even more difficult for regular players. Mediatonic and Devolver Digital need to step up – they’ve got a hit on their hands, but they’re in danger of losing it.
Focusing on bringing out new content while these issues still exist feels wrong. Players who’ve had their fun ruined by cheaters are well within their rights to ask why the growing problem doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it warrants, and while it’s absolutely fair to say that a developer can do two things at once, the messaging and marketing trying to hype up Season 2 is in danger of becoming a bit of an own goal from a PR perspective.
Here’s hoping that cheating can be stamped out, and other issues tackled, so we can all get hyped up for Season 2 and the new content it will bring. I’m looking forward to it – but I’m also increasingly worried about some of these issues.
Fall Guys is out now on PC and PlayStation 4. Fall Guys is the copyright of Mediatonic and Devolver Digital. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.