Push Square has been singing the praises of multiplayer dodgebrawler Knockout City ever since its beta released this spring, but the title’s inclusion with PS Plus gives us another opportunity to wax lyrical about what is undoubtedly one of the best games of the year. If you’ve yet to download it and give it a try, then our question to you is simple: why?
Revisiting the Velan Studios developed outing this week has, in some ways, served as a reminder of just how good the game is. The developer’s been busy: a couple of new maps have been added since launch, including a small one set outside a cinema, which cycles through dioramas based on popular movie genres – it’s probably this author’s favourite to date.
There’s also now a Battle Pass system which works differently to what you may be familiar with. Rather than just earn XP, you’ll instead have to complete fairly straightforward Contracts – essentially micro-objectives, like catching a certain number of balls – with each ticked-off task contributing towards one step on the progress ladder. Buy-in is about 950 Bux, so around £7.99/$9.99.
For those of you who seriously haven’t been paying attention, the title has a retro-future aesthetic, and clearly takes inspiration from SEGA greats like Jet Set Radio with its DJ announcer. It’s effectively a dodgeball game, although there are some unique wrinkles: you can punch balls out of your opponents’ hands, and you can “ball up” so that teammates can lob you about.
While it feels like a lazy comparison, there’s a touch of Rocket League here. The gameplay, while completely different, is similarly straight-forward to pick-up-and-play – but there’s an enormous skill ceiling, which separates the wheat from the chaff. Up until this week’s PS Plus release the standards had gotten quite high, but they’ve settled somewhat with all of the new players joining this week.
The game’s completely crossplay across all consoles, so there’s plenty of people to compete with, and matchmaking times only last a few seconds. This, for us, is crucial to the success of multiplayer games; no one wants to sit around twiddling their thumbs for minutes at a time, waiting for lobbies to fill up with competitors.
And to dwell on that Rocket League comparison for just a moment more, Knockout City does have an edge: its ever-evolving playlist of alternative modes. Where Psyonix has experimented with basketball, ice hockey, and even American football, the developer’s failed to find anything quite as entertaining as its core take on soccer.
But Velan Studios has done a much better job: the latest addition, Knockout Royale, is available for two weeks and sees eight players duking it out in a Battle Royale-style fiesta, which works astoundingly well. The studio has also toyed with other alternatives, like a Kill Confirmed-inspired event during Halloween where you had to collect candy.
This variety, along with the core strength of the mechanics, makes Knockout City a game that you can keep coming back to. And the reward loop has gotten stronger, too: there are so many great cosmetics now – ranging from Mirror’s Edge’s Faith to Isaac Clarke’s helmet from Dead Space – and a lot can be unlocked for free, assuming you’re smart with your Bux.
All in all, it’s an outstanding game – and one that excels alongside friends. There’s a Push Square crew you can join if you’d like to squad up with members from the community, and we’ve even unlocked a hover car that’s covered in ice cream cones! Knockout City will be free on PS Plus until December, and there’s no excuse not to download it, either on PS5 or PS4.
Why aren’t you playing Knockout City with PS Plus? Have you previously given the title a go? What did you think? Catch the ball in the comments section below.