Knockout City, we tried the new competitive title from Electronic Arts

Knockout City, we tried the new competitive title from Electronic Arts

Knockout City

By now we are getting used to the presentations of "new competitive online titles" by the various publishers. We also talked about it in the preview of Roller Champions (and it happened on several other titles with similar connotations), but the vast majority of the protagonists of the videogame industry can't wait to take a slice of the immense pie of earnings dominated by Fortnite, Among Us, Fall Guys and the like, so lately he often tries to "shoot the heap" with titles with colorful aesthetics, cartoon graphics and accessible gameplay.

When products like this are presented, often our reaction it is not the rosiest: the reveal are practically always made with the stencil, through forcefully humorous trailers and uninspired gameplay that cause an immediate rotation of our eyeballs inside the skull. And the last child of Electronic Arts and Velan Studios, called Knockout City seemed to respect all these canons, so much so that we were blocked in the presentation phase with even more frost than the usual impact. But then we tried it, and this time - after a really uninspired reveal - there could be a minimum of hope. Maybe.

Balls in the face

Knockout City: blue team Let's start from Velan Studios, because this rather cool team (it was founded in 2016) has actually already made itself known with Mario Kart Live Circuit, which gave us hope when we discovered that they were behind the project. Knockout City, however, is a completely different title from the one just mentioned, since it is a team game three against three or four against four, which sees the players face off in merciless poison ball battles in rather extensive maps.

The gameplay, at its core, is rather simple to understand, but it is not without subtleties. The maps are extremely diverse, and contain spheres that can be used to hit opponents. Each character has two life points, so two balls are enough for a kill, but the spheres can be captured head-on if you press the corresponding button with the right timing. To prevent this from happening, it is then possible to fake the shot, load it to increase its power, or perform acrobatic maneuvers (which are also useful for air travel) so as to throw the balls more difficult to predict (or even just to see if an obstacle is thrown at her from behind). Enemy targeting, of course, is automated to keep the focus on movement, dodging, and team play, as shots get boosted in speed after passes, and fights become rather tactical if there is collaboration between the players.

Knockout City: a perfect grip Not enough, the player can also "turn into the ball" and perform powerful area attacks from above if thrown by a teammate. However, it is very risky to do so: getting hit in this form leads to instant knockouts, and it is possible to interrupt a player before he can throw such "human spheres", not to mention the temporary loss of a team member. Ah, there are also special spheres in the various maps, with the most disparate effects. There are only three (at least for now, but should become six at launch), and they are respectively able to modify the gravity of jumps, trap other players temporarily, or time bombs. Their presence seemed like a good idea to add sparkle to matches.

The monetization dilemma

Knockout City: be careful not to fall Now, described in this way the gameplay might seem very simplistic, but during the test it was much more fun than expected even in random games. Organizing detailed tactics in those cases is almost impossible, so the mechanical subtleties take care of saving the cabin, which allow you to perform not indifferent goodies during the action, and make everything flow with great speed from the first matches. The modes, however, are quite basic, and this helps to focus on the game: there are three types of deathmatch, a classic with points, one with diamonds to be collected after kills, and one without balls on the map (which forces you to use other players as balls). Skin and bones, yet rather well researched.

The problem with the game, therefore, is not the gameplay, which in our opinion would also have the potential to conquer an interesting niche of players, as much as monetization. This is because Knockout Champions is not a free to play, but a title sold at a limited price (about twenty euros), which however contains an internal store to make money on aesthetic customizations. Now, leaving out the still good quality of the latter, the shop is the one seen in all the holy titles of this type: daily rotation of objects and fantasy, with internal currency that can be purchased with real money to speed things up. For heaven's sake, if nothing else, the initial item selection is pretty good, and if you unlock others through objectives and leveling up, however it is a structure for monetization that now causes us violent itches. It seems that there are almost no others for the vast majority of designers, and for once - especially considering that this will not be a free to play, as already mentioned - we would have liked to see something more interesting and enjoyable even for those who are not willing to spend more money.

Knockout City: in the middle of the game This structure, without counting the limited progression, is what risks penalizing the Velan Studios title the most: with the entry barrier of the initial cost and the presence of the usual stores , few players might decide to give it a try, killing a video game that is actually not bad at all once the games begin. Once again, we just have to wait and see.

Despite a disappointing presentation that made us give it up almost immediately, Knockout City managed to make us think again during the direct test, thanks to a gameplay rather inspired and mechanics with multiple levels of reading. It is difficult, however, to say whether the game will be able to build an extended community even with good potential in the game. The internal monetization system is in fact the most abused and annoying thing in the genre, and the fact that the title is not a free to play creates a dangerous entry barrier for its future.


More inspired and multifaceted gameplay than it appears at first glance DOUBTS Backward and free-to-play monetization system, despite the fact that the game is not

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