Fall Guys goes free-to-play: first impressions

I love Fall Guys – and I’ve had a blast playing the fun party battle royale title since it landed in August of 2020. Following a buyout by Epic Games it seemed inevitable that Fall Guys would eventually go free-to-play, and here we are! The new version of Fall Guys launched yesterday and I’ve had a couple of hours to jump in and have a play around.

First of all, some points to be aware of: Fall Guys is no longer available via Steam, although players who purchased it on that platform before yesterday will be able to continue to play the game – and it will presumably continue to receive updates in line with other versions. Secondly, the game is now available on Switch and Xbox… finally! And thanks to cross-platform play, players on PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox systems are able to play together.

Fall Guys has finally made it to Nintendo Switch!

I was confused by some of the pre-launch marketing, specifically the talk of a “season reset.” Fall Guys had introduced a lot of new content and new rounds across its first couple of years, including a winter-themed season and a sci-fi one. It wasn’t communicated very clearly, in my opinion at least, whether some or all of this content would be included as part of this “new Season 1,” or whatever it’s called. As it turned out, all of the rounds are available, which is great! The good rounds are still a ton of fun… and the annoying ones are still annoying.

I didn’t get off to a great start, as some kind of error prevented me from even getting to the game’s main menu. I saw something about this on social media from one of Mediatonic’s pages, and considering the increased player numbers as the game launches on two new platforms and simultaneously goes free-to-play for the first time ever, I guess a few bumps in the road can be forgiven! But I hope this issue – which persisted for quite a while – hasn’t had too much of a negative impact on new players and their first impressions of Fall Guys.

The error message that I received.

So first of all, anyone who’s played Fall Guys before (on the same account) will be granted a few freebies – including some new costumes and access to the first Season Pass. That’s nice, and a little bit of generosity from Epic/Mediatonic toward the game’s early adopters. But going free-to-play has, naturally, completely changed Fall Guys’ in-game marketplace. The original “kudos” currency is still present and can be used for some items, but there’s now a second premium currency that must be bought with real cash – and this second currency can be exchanged for other in-game items.

Fortunately, items unlocked prior to the game going free-to-play seem to have remained in my inventory, so I don’t feel a desperate need to shell out a lot of cash for in-game currencies and new items right now. But new players in particular will find themselves affected by the decision to lock many cosmetic items behind a paywall, and Fall Guys is definitely following the business model used by many free-to-play mobile games and Epic’s own juggernaut Fortnite in terms of the way in-game monetisation is handled.

Part of the in-game marketplace.

Too many reviews skip over microtransactions and in-game monetisation, but in my view it’s absolutely worth drawing your attention to this aspect of Fall Guys before we go any further. This is a game that’s very appealing to kids and young people thanks to a cute visual style, the lack of any violence or gore, and a fun party vibe, so parents and carers should be aware of what could lie in store. The original version of Fall Guys, as I noted in my first look at the game a couple of years ago, was very good about making its microtransations entirely optional and allowing simply playing the game to unlock boatloads of in-game currency and a plethora of new items. This new free-to-play version of the game feels more tight-fisted and stingy with its in-game rewards, and the emphasis from this point forward is going to be on those microtransactions and that premium currency.

Mentions of a “Season Pass” have also not eluded me, and it seems like this is another aspect of the game that is going to be monetised and heavily pushed. Paying for the game’s Season Pass – which, as noted, is free right now for players who bought the game prior to its free-to-play move – will unlock a lot of “premium” items and some in-game currency. It seems like these Season Passes will be a big part of the game going forward.

Fall Guys has added a purchasable Season Pass.

As with Fortnite, playing Fall Guys without spending a penny is possible, and none of the Season Passes, in-game currencies, and microtransactions could be described as being either necessary to complete the game nor as offering any kind of in-game advantage. But it’s worth being aware of the fact that this “free” game – like many, many others – could be a gateway to spending not insignificant amounts of real money.

While none of the purchases players can make today will offer any kind of in-game advantage, there’s always the possibility of that changing in future. Updates or changes to the game could potentially see some of Fall Guys’ rounds gated off behind a paywall, or the addition of power-ups, boosters, and the like that could potentially make the game a “pay-to-win” experience. I’ll do my best to keep tabs on things as Fall Guys progresses with its new business model – and I’m sure I’ll have something to say if any kind of pay-to-win mechanics begin cropping up.

So far, microtransactions don’t appear to be pay-to-win.

So that’s how things sit in terms of monetisation from my point of view. Fall Guys is to be commended for not including the dreaded randomised lootbox as part of its monetisation, but that’s a pretty low bar. A free game with dedicated online servers naturally requires some kind of revenue stream in order to be financially viable, and the fact that there are still unlockable items without spending money is a good thing. Monetisation doesn’t feel horribly aggressive right now when compared to some other titles, but it is still present and, speaking as someone who played and enjoyed Fall Guys in its earlier incarnation, monetisation and pushes to spend money feel like a much larger part of the game than they used to be.

But enough about that for now.

Fall Guys plays exactly the same as it used to now that it’s free-to-play, and for newbies I guess I’d describe its gameplay as “deceptively simple.” You can run, grab, jump, and dive – and those are your available moves. Using those moves you have to navigate a huge variety of different rounds – most of which only last a couple of minutes at the most – in order to qualify for the next one. It takes a bit of getting used to, but there’s never been a better time to get started thanks to the influx of new players! It’s a level playing field right now.

Skyline Stumble, one of many rounds in the game.

I won’t go into detail about every round in the game – but I have several lists here on the website of my favourites (and least-favourites), the most recent of which you can find by clicking or tapping here. Suffice to say that most of the rounds are an absolute blast, and the few that I don’t personally enjoy never ruin my gameplay experience because of how short they are and how infrequently they crop up in a game with so much variety.

There are a handful of new rounds that have been introduced alongside the free-to-play update, and the ones I’ve tried so far retain Fall Guys’ signature sense of wild and wacky fun. I can’t wait to get stuck in all over again and figure out my best strategies for approaching some of these new experiences!

Fall Guys will hopefully stick around for a long time to come.

So I don’t think there’s a lot more to say. Fall Guys has gone free-to-play but has retained its fun gameplay, and while there is a definite and noticeable push towards in-game monetisation, at this stage it doesn’t feel excessive. I hadn’t played much Fall Guys over the past few months, but this update gave me another opportunity to dive headfirst into one of my favourite games of the last few years. As I said when Fall Guys was brand-new, it takes something truly special for me to be interested in any kind of online multiplayer title, least of all one that could be described as a kind of “battle royale,” but Fall Guys really is that kind of exceptional, unique game.

I’m pleased to see that the game is now available on Xbox and Nintendo Switch; the latter platform in particular should be a natural fit for this kind of fun, kid-friendly party game. I’d been awaiting the game’s Switch release for a long time, and although I’ve only played on PC so far I hope to jump into the Switch version very soon.

Maybe we’ll see each other out there on the obstacle courses… but I should warn you, the gloves are off! I’ll shove you out of the way without a second thought for a chance at winning my next crown! Good luck and happy falling!

Fall Guys is out now for free (with in-game purchases) on PC, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X. Fall Guys is the copyright of Mediatonic and Epic Games. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

All Fall Guys rounds re-ranked!

Back in August, when Fall Guys was the party hit of the summer, I put all of the rounds (i.e. levels) into a ranked list. Since then, a number of new rounds have been added to the game as part of the Season 2 and Season 3 updates. In addition, most rounds now have at least one variant, with alterations to obstacles to keep players on their toes.

I’m hopeful that Fall Guys will have a strong future. With releases planned for Xbox and Switch this summer, and a fourth season coming between now and then, developers Mediatonic are still working hard. But as we noted last time, player numbers have dropped significantly – by as much as 95% on PC – in a little over half a year, so new owners Epic Games have their work cut out to revitalise Fall Guys in 2021.

Fall Guys is coming to Nintendo Switch this summer.

There are presently 38 rounds in the game, and we’ll look at each of them in turn from worst to best. Some rounds have been greatly improved since I last ranked them, whereas others are now overshadowed by newer rounds that are better! So there will certainly be some changes when compared to my previous list.

Before we go any further, a note about team rounds. In order to avoid being too repetitive, let’s get this out of the way first: success or failure in team rounds is inherently dependent on who you’re teamed up with. Lopsided or unbalanced teams (i.e. 5 against 7) have largely been eliminated from the game via updates – which is great news – but if you’re teamed up with people who aren’t great at the round, who aren’t paying attention, who drop out, etc. it’s going to be much harder to qualify. That’s just the nature of team rounds in a game like Fall Guys, and while it can be incredibly frustrating, it’s also something that can’t be avoided. The reverse can also be true – you can play atrociously only to end up qualifying thanks to being on a strong team. So rather than repeat myself with every single team round, I thought I’d just make this clear at the beginning!

Without any further caveats, let’s jump and dive headfirst into the list.

Number 38: Snowy Scrap (Team)

I appreciate what Snowy Scrap was trying to do, and how the developers clearly hoped to create a round that bypassed some of the issues with Rock N Roll – another round which tasks teams of players to push a large ball. The problem with Snowy Scrap is that the physics engine in use in Fall Guys, as well as the deliberately clumsy characters, are not well-suited to a game which requires precision. In Rock N Roll, the large goal at the end doesn’t require this, but in Snowy Scrap the snowballs need to be aimed at small patches of snow on the ground. The clunky balls are difficult to control so delicately, and it’s just a very difficult round as a result.

Number 37: Door Dash (Race)

Last time I ranked Door Dash as the worst round in the game… and nothing has been done to address any of its issues in the patches and updates since. Its combination of being fast-paced yet random means that a single unavoidable mistake – because which doors are real and which are fake is completely random and unknowable – can often mean failure to qualify. It’s a round where, if luck is on your side, you’ll breeze through. If not, however, you’re in trouble. A lot of the rounds in Fall Guys require at least a modicum of skill; Door Dash doesn’t. If you can run and jump, you can play this round just as well as the best players in the world.

Number 36: Fruit Chute (Race)

There’s nothing wrong with the premise of Fruit Chute, which sees players run on a treadmill while obstacles are being fired at them. But it’s an incredibly unforgiving round, and in most cases a single collision can be enough to knock you right out of contention. It’s also a round where not much has been changed, and the variant which added mallets (to sling players forward up the track) doesn’t really seem to help, as landing awkwardly can still mean qualification is out of reach. A fun round, for sure, but horribly unforgiving.

Number 35: Royal Fumble (Finale)

Royal Fumble has slipped way down my list compared to last time for one simple reason: it hardly ever shows up any more. It’s hard to say anything about a round that seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, and I almost took it entirely out of contention. The premise is fine – whoever is in possession of the one single tail when the timer runs out wins the crown – but if, for whatever reason, it’s no longer being used very often, then it can’t be ranked any higher on the list.

Number 34: Tip Toe (Race)

Another round that hasn’t seen any improvement since last time, Tip Toe is another that can be very unforgiving and random. It’s impossible to tell which tiles are fake and which are real without jumping on them, and if you’re unlucky enough to fall near the end, by the time you’ve respawned the round can be over. Because Tip Toe shows up later (usually it’s at least the third round) players are cautious, wanting to qualify for the finale, so it can drag out if no one is willing to try stepping on the next tile. The addition of a mallet in one variant does basically nothing, because even if you jumped perfectly and got hit by it, chances are you’d still land on a tile that will fall away.

Number 33: See Saw (Race)

See Saw sees perhaps the biggest fall from grace since I wrote my first list. Back then I said that it was “a ton of fun, and deceptively tricky.” And that’s true – See Saw can be fun, but one thing I’ve come to realise is just how unfair it is. Players who spawn in at the front of the pack have a far bigger advantage than I realised, and it’s often the case in See Saw that two or three players manage to qualify way before everyone else simply because they had a straight shot to the finish line. However, See Saw is usually a forgiving round, meaning a fall or two doesn’t usually knock you right out of contention. I still like it and have fun with it, but the unfairness is definitely noteworthy!

Number 32: Jump Showdown (Finale)

Jump Showdown is – I think – the finale where I’ve won the most crowns! But it’s quite random when compared to all of the other finales, and it’s possible to lose simply because of where you spawned in at the beginning. When a couple of platforms have fallen away, you can end up in the wrong place simply by chance, and thus I stand by what I said last time: that’s poor for a finale.

Number 31: Rock N Roll (Team)

Rock N Roll usually sees all three teams make identical progress pushing their giant ball through a short obstacle course, and that’s the part of the round that could really use some attention and improvement. Once the balls drop it’s a short run to the goal at the bottom, and this round invariably descends into which team can hold up the others better. I also feel that there’s a disadvantage to being in the middle lane, simply because you have players from both sides who could jump in the way and hold you up. It’s preferable to Snowy Scrap, though!

Number 30: Jinxed (Team)

I hadn’t played many rounds of Jinxed when I ranked it last time, but it seems to come up more often now. It’s okay, and the level is well-designed. It’s a very fast-paced round, better suited to larger teams, but because of the way it starts – with one “jinxed” player per team – it can get lopsided fast if one of the jinxed players isn’t paying attention (or just isn’t very good!) It’s okay, though, and we’re getting into the part of the list where none of the rounds are all that bad, just overshadowed by some that are better!

Number 29: Perfect Match (Logic)

I ranked Perfect Match much higher up the list last time. I enjoy it a lot, and in a game that can be very hectic it’s a refreshingly different offering. However, it’s also a round that invariably ends up eliminating practically nobody. I don’t want to attach the label “too easy,” but it’s hard to know what else to say about a round where 30 out of 31 players qualify. A variant has been added that randomly shoots obstacles at the course, and that helps a little, but right now Perfect Match is an outlier. If it remains the case that it doesn’t eliminate many players, including it is going to end up feeling like a waste of time when it appears. That’s a shame, because in theory I like Perfect Match – it just doesn’t work so well at the moment.

Number 28:Pegwin Pursuit (Team)

The robo-penguins that you have to catch in this game are cute, and the concept is fun. You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not wild about a lot of the team rounds, and in a way I’d like to see a solo variant of this round as I think that could be fun. If there were, for example, five fewer penguins than players (10 penguins in a 15-player round, and so on) maybe that would work. It’s fine, though, and worked well during the winter-themed Season 3.

Number 27: Team Tail Tag (Team)

Team Tail Tag has one of the best-designed levels, and it’s one that could work well for a whole range of different games. It has ramps, conveyors, slippery slime ramps, mallets… lots of different “terrains” and obstacles. It’s also the only round where I’ve seen four teams instead of two or three! The tail tag concept is fun, and pretty easy to get to grips with. A fun middle-of-the-road round that I don’t really have anything else to say about.

Number 26: Tail Tag (Hunt)

As I said in my previous list, the non-team version of Tail Tag works ever-so-slightly better, in my opinion, because victory or defeat is in your own hands. The map is perhaps slightly less fun, though it has spawned at least one variant with large fans that does mix things up a little. Tail Tag is the one round where what you do at the beginning does not matter in the slightest; it’s won or lost in the last few seconds. That keeps it exciting all the way along, and I appreciate that about it. It’s also on a fixed timer so there’s no waiting around!

Number 25: Hex-A-Gone (Finale)

Hex-A-Gone is fine. It’s a solid finale that does what it says it’s going to do! I’ve seen some players who seem to have very elaborate Hex-A-Gone tactics, including dropping way down to the final layer to make holes in the hopes that other players will fall straight through! I like that it’s a round that inspires some degree of tactical thinking; you can’t just run around and hope for the best.

Number 24: Fall Ball (Team)

I mentioned above that the physics of Fall Guys makes controlling large balls difficult, and while that was frustrating in Snowy Scrap it’s a big part of the fun of Fall Ball. Even after playing many times, I’m still crap at it. But it’s fun, and it’s a change of pace when compared to a lot of the other team rounds. It actually requires a degree of teamwork to qualify – just running around only considering yourself can leave your goal exposed or leave teammates without support, so it’s another round that can be played tactically.

Number 23: Hoarders (Team)

Hoarders is a pretty hectic round, and another that requires players to control large balls. Luckily in this case the objective is just to keep as many as possible in an entire third of the map, which is much easier than scoring a goal or rolling in a specific area! As with Tail Tag, who’s winning at the start doesn’t matter; there are only a few balls so it’s possible to pull off a recovery even at the last second. In that sense it’s a round that never lets up.

Number 21 (tie): Egg Scramble & Egg Siege (Team)

I’m putting these two together because for all intents and purposes they’re the same round. The level design is slightly different – with Egg Siege adding a medieval theme and drawbridges, as well as deeper “nests,” but the changes aren’t substantial enough to make the rounds play any differently from one another. I like both, and the addition of golden eggs alongside regular eggs adds an extra dimension to the rounds. They’re fun and often fast-paced – the only time either are less fun would be when there are only a few players per team. One round I played only had four players on each team, and I think that’s too few!

Number 20: Hoopsie Daisy (Team)

I think we’ve come to my favourite team round! I just love the jumping and diving, and the hoops are just large enough to make a good target without being too big or making it too easy. The addition of golden hoops, and mixing up some of the obstacles on the map, gives Hoopsie Daisy an additional dimension, and I always smile when it crops up. Unless your team falls way behind and stays there, it’s usually competitive right up to the last second, too.

Number 19: Jump Club (Survival)

I prefer Jump Club to its finale cousin for the simple reason that it’s less random. It’s still possible to screw up and fail to qualify, but usually that’s because of a self-inflicted mistake, and not because of the way the round was designed. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple concept – jump over the spinning beam without getting caught by the larger one above it. Hang on long enough while other players get knocked into the slime and you qualify! It’s a round that usually doesn’t drag on too long, either because a lot of players get caught out, or because the beams speed up!

Number 18: Roll Out (Survival)

If there were only the original version of Roll Out it would surely rank lower down the list. That’s because, as I noted last time, that version of Roll Out can take a long time to play out because most people have got the hang of it! But there are two new variants that completely mix it up. In one, two of the five rotating cylinders are gone, meaning there are more players packed into a smaller space. In the other, fruit obstacles are fired at random, knocking players down. These new variants massively improve the round.

Number 17: Wall Guys (Race)

Among the racing rounds, there really isn’t anything quite like Wall Guys. In a way it’s partly a game of logic, trying to piece together the best route across the platforms to scale the walls. But it’s also a round that requires good jumping, diving, and aiming reflexes. A second variant adds in giant fans, which certainly mixes things up. It’s not an easy round by any means, and sometimes positioning a platform in just the right place can mean someone else jumps on it first – but that’s part of the game!

Number 16: Freezy Peak (Race)

Freezy Peak is a fun obstacle course with several sections offering a variety of challenges. The hardest part (at least for me) is getting the timing right to jump across the fans, using the updraft to cross a gap. It’s not easy, but it’s a cleverly-designed round and I appreciate that it offers a lot of variety. It could easily be repurposed to become a finale, with the first person reaching the summit winning a crown!

Number 15: Hoopsie Legends (Hunt)

Hoopsie Legends is the solo variant of Hoopsie Daisy, and it’s great fun. The challenge doesn’t only lie in jumping through the hoops, but also in getting to them ahead of other players, and in moving platforms to just the right place. The map itself is perhaps a little bland, with only the central drawbridge area offering any variety. My only real point of criticism, though, is that in a round where the objective is to score six points, having a few golden hoops that are worth five points each can make it quick and easy for some players to reach the target. It might be better if these were only worth two points.

Number 14: Thin Ice (Finale)

Thin Ice is a slightly better variant of Hex-A-Gone, and that’s really all there is to say. After standing on the hexagon-shaped ice tiles for a couple of seconds, they crack and disappear, dropping players down to the next layer of ice. It’s possible to do well at Thin Ice by taking it slow and focusing on one section of the level. When it gets down to the final layer and a lot of holes, well that’s when it gets hectic! It’s also the finale where I’ve seen the most players – 18 on one occasion, and 15-16 several times.

Number 13: Snowball Survival (Survival)

This is a fun round, and a well-designed level. Two giant snowballs roll across the bowl-shaped map at random, sometimes bouncing off one another. There are patches of ice that crack and fall away, and patches of solid ground. Getting hit by a snowball sends players flying in all directions, and the challenge is in jumping out of the way in time! It’s also a round that can, on occasion, eliminate a large number of players.

Number 12: Fall Mountain (Finale)

Fall Mountain makes for a great finale because it’s fast-paced. It’s a race to the top – while giant balls are being shot down the mountain at you – and whoever makes it and grabs the crown wins. Victory or defeat is entirely in your own hands – quick reflexes are needed to avoid the balls and swinging mallets, and to jump at the right moment to grab the crown. Though it’s kind of basic as far as obstacle courses go, it’s great fun.

Number 11: Slime Climb (Race)

I’m still awful at Slime Climb! More often than not I wind up eliminated through a mistimed jump or by getting knocked over by one of the many different types of obstacle! But as a pure obstacle course it has everything: rolling balls, swinging mallets, slippery slopes, pushing platforms… the lot. And a few different variants have been added, changing up some of the obstacles to keep players on their toes. In terms of the way the level is designed it has to be one of the best in the game – even though I absolutely suck at it.

Number 10: The Whirlygig (Race)

I like what The Whirlygig has to offer, and the fact that a couple of different variants have sprung up keeps it fresh and interesting. I’ve pretty much nailed my tactics for this round, and even on my worst days I can still expect to make it to the finish line! The rotating fans offer a different kind of obstacle, and getting the timing right to avoid getting hit is the key.

Number 9: Gate Crash (Race)

I’m not doing individual awards, but if I were, Gate Crash would win “most improved!” Last time I said that it was too unforgiving, but maybe I’ve just got better at it since then. Regardless, the addition of moving obstacles seems to have helped, and Gate Crash has one of the best final stretches of any round – with a slippery slope leading to a jump. Getting that right requires a bit of skill and the right timing, something that can be tricky!

Number 8: Dizzy Heights

Dizzy Heights now has several different variants to spice things up, including one where its signature spinning platforms have been removed in the middle section! These variants keep it fresh and interesting, as you’re never sure which version will be selected. It’s a fun round, and one which can be difficult, especially toward the end. Those three rotating discs spinning in opposite directions – with balls being shot at you – are difficult to navigate!

Number 7: Big Fans (Race)

I utterly detested Big Fans the first few times I played it! That was because I couldn’t get the timing right to successfully jump between the spinning platforms! But the more I’ve continued to play it I’ve come to appreciate what it has to offer, and while there really isn’t much variety – except on the variant that introduces spinning beams – it’s nevertheless a fantastic, cleverly-designed round that’s incredibly tricky to get to grips with.

Number 6: Roll Off (Finale)

Roll Off is what Roll Out should have been! Where the original version of Roll Out can take a long time to eliminate players, Roll Off speeds up, and the rising slime leaves less and less solid ground available. It’s a truly fun take on Roll Out, massively improving on that round’s gameplay. I just wish, in a way, that it wasn’t a finale so that it would crop up more often!

Number 5: Ski Fall (Race)

The concept of Ski Fall is just fantastic. Jumping and diving through small target rings while slipping down an icy slope makes for a deceptively challenging round, and it’s easy to mistime a jump or bounce off an obstacle and completely mess up! However, it’s also forgiving enough that a mistake or two won’t knock you out of contention altogether most of the time, which is great. Tricky but great fun is how I’d describe Ski Fall.

Number 4: Hit Parade (Race)

Last time, Hit Parade was my winner. It’s slipped down a few places this time, and if I’m being really honest the reason why is that I’ve played it so many times. There are some great variations that have been introduced that have kept Hit Parade fresh, and I still feel that, when considering pure obstacle courses, it beats out many other rounds – especially those which only consist of one type of obstacle! And it’s still great fun, don’t get me wrong… but a couple of newcomers have arrived to topple its crown.

Number 3: Block Party (Survival)

I still absolutely adore Block Party. This timed round sees players standing on a short platform having to run out of the way of walls that come racing toward them. There are some beams to jump over, too. It’s a tricky round that keeps you engaged until the very last second, and it gets progressively difficult as the timer ticks toward zero. My only criticism would be to say that, of all the rounds in the game, Block Party is perhaps the easiest in theory to mix up with new variants, as changing which beams and blocks come and at what time shouldn’t be too difficult. Yet there aren’t many variants that I’ve seen – perhaps two or three.

Number 2: Knight Fever (Race)

So now we come to the top two, and just missing out on the top spot is Knight Fever. This amazing obstacle course has so much going on that I hardly know where to start. There are platforms with holes in, cylindrical platforms with fast-moving spikes that knock you off, crushing cylinders and blocks, and drawbridges. There are several variants, too, which introduce see-saws, fans, and change the timings of the drawbridges. There’s just so much going on that Knight Fever is a wild ride from start to finish, and always keeps me on my toes!

Number 1: Tundra Run (Race)

My number one pick this time is Tundra Run. It was a close call between this and Knight Fever, because both are excellent, varied obstacle courses. But as I thought about it some more, Tundra Run has to take the top spot. As above, it offers a range of different obstacles and terrains, with the icy sections being slippery and difficult to navigate. But it’s so much fun, and incredibly hectic. There’s so much variety that each section feels almost like a new level, and it’s not easy to make it to the finish line!

So that’s it! We’ve put all of the rounds into a list again… one that will be out-of-date as soon as Season 4 rolls around!

I took a break from Fall Guys over the holidays, but after picking it up again last month I’ve been having a whale of a time. I often say that, when it comes to video games, I prefer something with a good story that I can play alone. Fall Guys has reminded me that enjoyable gameplay matters too, and that there’s still value in something unique, silly, and fun. There aren’t that many games like Fall Guys where I sit down to play simply for the enjoyment of playing – not because I’m chasing achievements or following a story.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Season 4 being fun with its futuristic theme, as well as for successful launches on Xbox and in particular on the Switch later in the year. Fall Guys deserves to have a great future with many more updates and more content to come – and I’m still hopeful that it can, despite the significant drop in player numbers since launch.

If you haven’t tried Fall Guys yet… well I guess this list won’t have made a lot of sense! But the game is available on Steam and on PlayStation 4, and as mentioned, Xbox and Switch releases are coming. It was suggested – or at least hinted at – that it may go free-to-play in future, so watch this space. But if you ask me, it’s a steal at £15.

I won’t immediately re-rank the rounds when Season 4 arrives, but stay tuned for more Fall Guys-related articles and posts, especially if we get any significant news regarding the game’s future. Perhaps I’ll see you out there, pushing you out of the way to grab a crown!

Fall Guys is out now on PC and PlayStation 4. Fall Guys is the copyright of Mediatonic, Devolver Digital, and Epic Games. This list contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Can Epic Games reinvigorate Fall Guys?

This article was originally going to be titled “Can Season 4 reinvigorate Fall Guys” – but that was before the announcement that Epic Games had bought developer Mediatonic! However, many of the points I planned to make still apply in some form, and in addition we have the buyout and its associated effects to consider. So settle in as we talk about the hit party game of the summer – last summer, that is – Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout!

A few days ago I put Fall Guys on my list of games that deserve a second look in Spring 2021, and despite some of the criticisms I have of the game, I stand by that. Fall Guys is plenty of fun, and the addition of new rounds and changes to existing rounds has extended the game’s longevity. I recently got back into playing after taking a break over the holidays, and I’ve been having fun with it all over again. There is a lot to love about Fall Guys, but there’s also no denying that right now, the game’s survival hangs in the balance.

Is Fall Guys going to survive, or did Epic Games waste their money?

This is nothing to do with the Epic Games acquisition. Fall Guys was struggling long before that was announced, and my original plan for writing this article was to look at the possibility of Season 4 bringing players back. That’s something Fall Guys needs to address urgently. They have a good social media team, being active on Twitter and elsewhere every day, churning out memes and one-liners of the sort that a modern social media manager for an online game should. But it doesn’t seem to be having much effect.

Fall Guys blew up when it was launched last August, but almost as quickly as it arrived on the gaming scene, most of its players abandoned it. On Steam, Fall Guys peaked at around 125,000 concurrent players in August last year, and sold over 2,000,000 copies within a few weeks of launch. But as of yesterday, when I checked its progress on Steam, it had fallen to fewer than 6,000 concurrent players, with a maximum for the day of fewer than 10,000, and was barely clinging on to the top 100 most-played games on the platform, occupying the 100th slot.

Fall Guys was the 100th-most played game on Steam at time of writing.

To put that into context, Fall Guys had fewer players than titles like Civilization V, The Sims 4, Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and even a title I’d never heard of called Geometry Dash, which is a port of a mobile game that originally launched in 2013. Ouch.

As a player, this has become noticeable. Though most games I play are usually fully-populated (with 55-60 out of a maximum of 60 players) it can take several minutes of waiting just to begin a game, with long loading times in the queue as the game struggles to assemble enough players. With no cross-platform play between PC and PlayStation, this is obviously beginning to become an issue. One of the highlights of Fall Guys – something I praised it for back in August – is that because rounds are so short, losing or failing to qualify doesn’t feel so bad. All you had to do was jump immediately into the next one! But if you have to wait several minutes at a time to even just begin a game, one of the absolutely vital components of Fall Guys is lost, making it significantly less enjoyable. Not only are the waits themselves frustrating, but losing at a round risks becoming frustrating too – because you know if you don’t qualify it’ll take a while to start a new game.

So what caused Fall Guys to lose much of its playerbase? That’s the key point, because addressing it – if indeed that’s even possible – is the key challenge facing Mediatonic and Epic Games.

Jump Club, one of the better rounds.

As much as I hate to say this about a game I’ve come to greatly enjoy, the fundamental problem is that Fall Guys was a “release now, fix later” title. I’ve talked at length here on the website about the live service business model, and how the ubiquity of internet connections has led developers and publishers to push out games that weren’t quite ready with a view to improving them later. It almost never works, and Fall Guys, as much as I love the cute little title, is an example of that phenomenon too.

Firstly, Fall Guys launched with no anti-cheat software. I know that it’s scummy and pretty disgusting for a basement-dwelling low-life to cheat at a fun little game like this, but realistically, developers Mediatonic and original publisher Devolver Digital should have anticipated it. Cheating happens in any online game, and if you give players even the tiniest opportunity, some will cheat. Playing Fall Guys before the addition of anti-cheat was not fun, because what was the point in progressing through the rounds only to lose in the finale to an invincible cheater or a cheater who can simply fly above the course?

Cheating was a problem in Fall Guys on PC for a while.

The cheating problem pushed players away, just as I said it would when I discussed Fall Guys’ impending Season 2 update back in September. When I’ve spoken to people about the game or seen comments on social media, aside from the “dead game” memes the one thing that seems to come up most often is that people remember how Fall Guys had a cheating problem. Folks don’t know that’s been solved because most didn’t stick around, preferring to move on to games that weren’t plagued by cheating. The game should never have been released without anti-cheat software, and that’s perhaps its biggest mistake.

The rise of Among Us stole Fall Guys’ thunder in some ways, even though the two titles aren’t really comparable from a gameplay perspective. But there is a vague aesthetic similarity between the crewmates in Among Us and the jelly beans in Fall Guys, so it’s worth considering why Among Us is doing so well while Fall Guys appears to be in decline.

Among Us is one quarter the price of Fall Guys, at least on PC. On mobile or tablet, the game is free. Among Us is available everywhere, compared to Fall Guys which is currently only on PlayStation 4/5 and PC. Among Us has never had a cheating problem.

Among Us came from nowhere to overtake Fall Guys.

Both games had the potential to break into the mainstream and become ongoing successes, but only Among Us really has. The biggest factor in its favour is its ubiquity, particularly its availability on mobile devices and tablets, which are the platform of choice for many younger players. This enabled the game – which was originally released in 2018 – to become so popular. The fact that it’s free-to-play helps immensely too; younger gamers in particular are always on the lookout for free titles, which goes a long way to explaining the success of Epic Games’ mainstay: Fortnite.

When considering Fall Guys’ release, one huge factor preventing it growing was the natural ceiling on its playerbase caused by not being available on every platform. There was no Xbox or Switch release, and while those platforms are now scheduled for this summer, that’s a year too late. Without knowing more about the technical side of the game I can’t say for sure whether it would be possible to port it to mobile devices, but if that were possible then obviously that would open up the game still further.

Fall Guys is finally coming to Switch – but not till the summer.

Nintendo Switch is the platform I would have chosen to prioritise if I were in charge of Fall Guys’ development and release. PlayStation 4 has a larger install base, but Switch players are, I would suggest, more interested in this kind of fun pick-up-and-play party game on the whole. With over 60 million Nintendo Switch consoles having been sold, that’s a massive potential playerbase that Fall Guys missed at launch – and will continue to miss until this summer. By then it could be too late.

An online game that barely breaks 10,000 concurrent players is not doing well, and while that doesn’t account for PlayStation 4 players, it’s hard to imagine the game is doing significantly better on its only other platform. There are still people interested in Fall Guys, and there are still new players jumping on board, but the big challenge facing Epic Games and Mediatonic as they begin their partnership is shoring up the playerbase and bringing in as many new players as possible. Fall Guys was a hit last summer. Whether it can be a hit again is up to its new owners.

Season 4 is coming soon, promising new rounds and new cosmetics with a futuristic theme.

So what needs to happen to bring players back? The launch of Season 4, with new cosmetics and new rounds will be a good start. But there needs to be more of that, with the game basically being continuously updated. New rounds and new round variants are good, but there could also be timed events, such as the recent double-kudos offer, competitions focusing on one aspect of the game (like a fixed set of rounds, for example) and other such things that will incentivise players to keep coming back.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the polar opposite of Fall Guys in so many ways, but one thing New Horizons gets absolutely spot-on is the incentives it offers players to log in at least once per day. Fall Guys needs to find some kind of hook, some way to keep its players checking in often. Once they’ve sorted that – which is no small task – bringing in new players is priority #2.

Ski Fall, another of the rounds in the game.

Releasing the game on Switch and Xbox is a good start, but I’d love to see mobile devices too if at all possible. Then there absolutely needs to be cross-platform play. If Sony remains intransigent about this – as they often are – then cross-play could be between Xbox, Switch, and PC only. But it has to be in there somehow, because splitting up the already small playerbase into walled gardens by platform makes those wait times mentioned above more noticeable. If PC players could join PlayStation 4 players right now, today, I bet those wait times would be cut at least in half. And that in itself would make the experience more enjoyable, keeping existing players around for longer.

One thing that Mediatonic teased in their announcement of their deal with Epic Games was a possible free-to-play model. To me, this is a double-edged sword for a game like Fall Guys. While it would undoubtedly bring in more players, it would mean the game would have to find an alternative way of making money, and in the games industry that only means one thing: microtransactions.

Fortnite is a free-to-play game that makes all its money via microtransactions.

Fall Guys has always offered the ability to buy in-game currency, yet it’s never felt intrusive or obligatory. The game is very generous with in-game rewards and items earned through basic gameplay, and I would hate to see that disappear or for cosmetics to be locked behind a paywall in future. Part of the fun of Fall Guys has been earning cosmetic items through gameplay, or earning in-game currency through gameplay and trading that for cool items in the in-game store. Going free-to-play would mean all of that would change, and while it would unquestionably attract more players, I’m not sure the change would be a good one.

With all of the controversy that lootboxes and randomised rewards generate these days, I would hope that even Epic Games wouldn’t try to force them into Fall Guys, but that remains a risk. From a PC player’s perspective, I’m also concerned that Fall Guys may eventually be withdrawn from Steam – Epic Games has its own store and PC client, after all, so why would they leave Fall Guys on their competitor’s platform? This may seem extreme, but it’s exactly what happened to Rocket League. That game used to be available on Steam, but following an acquisition by Epic Games it was withdrawn. The game technically still exists on Steam for players who already owned it prior to its withdrawal, but an Epic Games account is required to play, and new players can’t add it to their Steam libraries. While Mediatonic promised in their statement that this isn’t part of the plan for Fall Guys, it’s hard to see that being sustainable if the game survives into the longer term. Sooner or later, Epic Games is going to want to monopolise its purchase, just as they do with other games that they own.

Time will tell if this was a good idea for Epic, Fall Guys, and the players.

Removing Fall Guys from Steam would run counter to everything we’ve discussed about trying to retain players and expand the playerbase, so the game may be safe in the short term. But watch this space, because it feels inevitable that Fall Guys’ presence on Steam is doomed!

So to answer my original question: can Epic Games reinvigorate Fall Guys? The short answer is “maybe.” The game is a huge amount of fun, and bringing it to the Switch in particular feels like a natural fit, one which should bring in new players who are well-suited to enjoy this kind of cute, fun little title. But the game’s longer-term prospects are murky at best, and I’m surprised that a company like Epic Games would take a risk on a game which appears to be in a serious decline. Hopefully their involvement can stop the rot and turn things around. Fall Guys is such a fun game that it deserves to last longer than a few measly months.

Fall Guys is available now on PC and PlayStation 4/5, with launches on Xbox and Nintendo Switch planned for this summer. Fall Guys is the copyright of Mediatonic, Devolver Digital, and Epic Games. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.