• Alberto Mezzalira

Review: Knockout City

Reviewed on: PS4

Publisher: EA

Developer: Velan Studios

Platforms: XB/PS/NS/PC

With a fast-paced gameplay and intense rubber-ball firefights, Knockout City throws everyone into crazy dodgeball action. This game perfectly combines dodgeball matches and multiplayer shooters to create a funny experience that is welcoming to players of all skill levels.

After the introductory tutorial, which shows all the fundamental aspects of the game, we’re ready to get on the field for some dodgeball brawl. The game concept is pretty easy and follows dodgeball rules; at the start of the match, you have to find a ball on the map and then find someone to throw it at. Luckily, the game automatically locks on to targets, allowing players to focus less on aiming skills and more on how to approach the fight. The use of trick shots, mastering the various special balls and the timing of catching incoming balls are critical to win games, but this is not a bad thing as matches become more fast-paced, action-packed and extremely fun to play. Jumping from one move to the next is rewarding, making you feel like a dodgeball master.

All modes (excluding the one-on-one Face-Off mode) place you in two teams of three. Teamwork is very important in the game because balls gain an instant charge when you pass them to a teammate, letting your friends immediately fire a special shot to defeat an enemy player. Moreover, players can even turn into a ball themselves, allowing teammates to throw each other at enemies, or perform an ultimate attack which turns the held teammate into a bomb that rains an area-of-effect explosion on targeted players.

As for the maps, they are 5 entertaining playgrounds full of concentrated battlefields, naturally flowing lanes, and unique obstacles. Each map has different locations where the balls are generated; along with them, there are special balls that explode, gain extra distance and speed, move with moon-like gravity and much more. These power-ups are usually rare, but they take centre stage in the over-the-top Party Team K.O. where all standard balls are replaced by special balls. Even if this mode is really entertaining and exciting, the chaos can be a little too much; in fact, after a couple of matches in this mode, I would usually go back to normal matches.

In order to level up, you have to complete a series of goals listed in a specific menu. From scoring knockouts with a particular type of throw to assisting your teammates in various ways, achieving these goals will make you earn cosmetic rewards and Holobux, which can be traded in for rewards like new outfits, emotes, and gliders. Thankfully, all the upgrades are cosmetic, meaning they won’t give gameplay advantages to players who unlocks them.

Leaving the gameplay aside, it’s important to highlight that the title supports cross-play and cross-progression. The use of the social menu is intuitive, allowing you to connect with friends and recent players quickly. You can also join a Crew; after that, you can further customize your character with a logo, vehicle to enter the match, and more. You also earn additional rewards and experience when you play with your Crewmates.

At this stage, though, the game lacks significant content. In fact, four base modes and only five maps are available at the moment. Luckily, Velan Studios has promised ambitious plans for post-launch life, including new maps, modes, and playlists. The existing content is strong, but I explored all the available content in a few short hours.

Despite this, Knockout City has a superb base to build off. Through an accessible gameplay, the game encourages you to experiment with its mechanics to increase your mastery. Overall, Knockout City offers a fresh mix of multiplayer shooters and the classic game of dodgeball.