Knockout City review

Knockout City is a new multiplayer dodgeball game from Velan Studios available pretty much everywhere, and it’s a fun, action-packed game that’s a good laugh whether you are playing with randoms or with friends.

In a similar fashion to recent battle royale games, you are thrown into a tutorial where you learn how to pick up the ball, aim at targets, jump and glide as well as the very useful tactic of rolling up in a ball yourself, by which you can be used as a dodgeball yourself when thrown by one of your teammates. The tutorial is quick, simple, and gets you ready for action in just a few minutes.

Once you have completed the quick tutorial then up next it’s time to get into games, and I have to say I was much more impressed with the gameplay than I was with the trailers I saw before the game’s release. This was shown off by Nintendo and Sony during their recent showcases, and the trailers instantly turned me off. To my surprise, I have really enjoyed my playtime with Knockout City so far.

The game does a great job of promoting team play, without the need for voice communication. Much like Apex Legends raised the bar with battle royales and ping system as a replacement for voice comms, Knockout City does a really good job of getting players playing together well as a functioning unit quickly and with relative ease. The rules are simple enough, pick up a ball and throw it towards your opponent, trying to catch them off guard so you score a point. Rounds are the first to 10 points, and you have to win two rounds to win the match. Matchmaking is seamless and quick, and getting into matches is very easy.

The idea is to run around the map and pick up one of the many balls, failing this you can always pick up one of your teammates and throw them like a ball. One good tactic in the game is to try and tag team your opponent so one of you draws their attention, and the other can sneak in there with a hit. As well as throwing the ball, you can also catch the ball, so it’s good to have your eyes peeled in all directions in case a ball is headed your way.

The rules of the game are nice and simple and the execution is very good, which looks similar to Fornite in terms of color and expression of characters in the game. Much like Battle Royale games of recent years, there’s plenty of customization, skins, and items to upgrade and purchase with 17 slots on your character in total. So you can really make your character your own.

Knockout City is great fun. It’s easy to get into, and the barriers to entry are pretty minimal. It’s free to try in a full-game 10-day trial and it’s also available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers through the partnership with EA Play. Also, if you have it on Nintendo Switch you don’t need Nintendo Switch Online to access the online features.

The game really goes out of its way to help you in Knockout City, especially through the aim assist feature. Running down an opposing team’s player is half the battle, but once you have someone in your sights it’s pretty easy to throw the ball in their direction due to the VERY heavy aim assist. This is helpful though because the action is quite frantic and fast-paced, you don’t really need to think about aiming too much. It’s another good example of the barriers being removed from the game.

Aim assist is good, but learning to throw the charged shot is an important skill in Knockout City. Charged shots have more velocity, therefore are harder to dodge or catch, and more likely to give you the points needed to win a round. As well as charged shots, you have lob shots too, so mixing it up and making it harder for your opponent to guess what’s going on is essential.

In a great move by the developers, cross-play and cross-progression are available as standard. The free trial may be about to end, but Knockout City has enjoyed a good start and hopefully, it’ll continue to pick up momentum. EA has learned a fair bit about releasing these types of games over the past year or so, having been burned a few times. I would have liked to see it go full-on free-to-play, as I think any game like this needs to be free these days otherwise the player count will start to dwindle quickly.

Knockout City is surprisingly polished and a much better experience than I was expecting. It’s good for dipping in and out of quickly if you want a quick game, or you can grind away and level up as standard. I’d recommend trying it out, it’s good fun and if you have access to Xbox Game Pass then you already own the game.

Developer: Velan Studios
Publisher: EA
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation
Release Date: 21st May 2021