To be honest, our time playing Knockout City in a recent review event hasn't changed our opinion much at all. After spending time previously with the beta, we came away quite impressed with what Velan Studios has made, and as the title launches on PlayStation 4, we find ourselves itching to play more. The game, an online multiplayer affair inspired by dodgeball, is just so much fun.
It puts us in mind of Rocket League — a simple concept that takes something familiar and puts a spin on it, easy-to-grasp gameplay with a high skill ceiling, and moreish matches that only last a few minutes each. This game is really just about throwing, catching, and getting smacked by dodgeballs, but it does a lot with that core idea to jazz it up, the end result being an addictive, one-more-round experience.
A clever design is that you'll lock onto an opponent as you charge up a shot, and the ball will softly home in on them. What this means is that your shots usually don't go to waste, especially when you use lobs to throw over walls and curves to shoot around corners and obstacles. More than that, though, the auto-targeting makes it so that your opponent is forced to pay attention, and needs to catch or dodge an incoming shot. We love that the frustration of missing a thousand manually-placed throws has just been side-stepped altogether. It means that most shots thrown in a match will either land, or if not, will impact the flow of the round in some way, forcing opponents to move or retaliate.
You can also become a ball yourself, which adds even more wrinkles to a match. If your team is in need of a weapon, you can simply become one. When you throw an ally, you can charge up the shot normally or turn it into a powerful area-of-effect explosive that falls from above. It doesn't really make anatomical sense, but it's fun.
The ebb and flow of a match works really nicely. Maps are fairly compact, so it doesn't take long to find the action when you respawn, and when your team is properly working together — passing balls, becoming balls, etc. — it feels great. The special ball types keep things interesting too; the moon ball gives the holder low gravity and sends enemies flying when struck, while the sniper ball takes a long time to charge but is a straight, powerful blow when it connects. These are randomised in regular 3v3 matches, so you're never completely sure what to expect.
At launch, there are five maps and four playlists to discover, which isn't a lot, but Season 1 starts just days afterwards, introducing another map and a new playlist each week. It's clear Knockout City will be added to and adapted pretty extensively post-launch. That'll include plenty of new cosmetics of course, of which there are plenty already.
Completing matches nets you XP, which increases your street rank, a battle pass-esque progression that sees you unlocking something every level. The street rank is enormous, with nine 100-level tiers meaning even the most dedicated players will have their work cut out. Contracts are mini-objectives that reward you with XP as well, while Holobucks are earnable in various ways. This currency can be spent in the game's item shop, and yes, you can purchase it with real money if you're desperate for that particular neon hat. What's refreshing is there are no loot boxes, and any cosmetics you get are purely for style. No pay-to-win here.
Playing in a Crew can net you even more rewards. Essentially a clan system, you can form a Crew with friends or strangers, and you'll cumulatively work towards Crew-exclusive unlocks. We've not explored this aspect too much yet, but it's safe to say a lot of effort has gone into customisation. The game is full to bursting with ways to make your avatar unique.
We'll be drawing up a full review of Knockout City soon, after we've spent more time with it now it's out in the open. To summarise, though, we highly recommend it, and given that it's free to play for the next 10 days, now's the best time to give it a shot.
Have you given Knockout City a try during its 10-day free trial? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.