Knockout City, new dodgeball game from Electronic Arts, coming in May

Knockout City is a lot to deal with. In the playlists of the cool, futuristic, and excessive dodgeball video game, couple of things are as easy as they sound. In a sneak peek staged by maker Velan Studios and Electronic Arts on Tuesday, I frequently simply discovered myself standing back and enjoying the action, attempting to establish a sense of essential play.

Team effort is as crucial to winning (and enjoyable) play as an understanding of Knockout City’s lots of special guidelines and methods. Great news for that: The very first closed beta for the video game begins on Feb. 20 on PC.

“Because dodgeball is the inspiration, we get to play with multiple balls in the scene,” stated Guha Bala, Velan’s co-founder and president. Velan most just recently established October’s toys-to-life/mixed truth video game Mario Kart Live: House Circuit

“There are very few moves, but it’s enormously complex in terms of layers, which allows you to really go through that kind of cycle of introduction, practice, and mastery,” Bala stated. I’ll disagree that there are couple of relocations in here however I see his point about it being simple to discover and after that hard to master.

In one straight-forward free-for-all match, I was seeing amateur users (like me) performing at leading speed once they saw a ball generate point, ending up to fire away, just to have their component of surprise removed by somebody who was paying much better attention when the tutorial demonstrated how to obstruct a ball. There’s a melee attack that’s likewise an excellent counter for separating an opponent from their ball, so it truly isn’t a matter of getting to the excellent weapons initially.

Rolling up in a ball (one of the more wild-card aspects of Knockout City) means a teammate can pick them up and throw them. Just bumping into a rolled-up teammate picks them up; it was a little confusing the first few times that happened, but of course, that means that Knockout City can serve up team-based, knockout game variants where there are no balls.

As for the balls themselves, you’ve probably guessed that there’s more than just your standard, red kickball (which makes a satisfying “PROONT” noise whenever it hits someone in the face.) Throwing it means quickly flicking the right trigger (a faster, but less effective attack) or charging it up with an auto lock-on to whatever opponent is nearest.

An exploding Bomb Ball’s big area-of-effect detonation makes it something players want to find and get rid of fast; but it likewise means that intercepting a pinging Bomb Ball is no longer a way to turn the tables on an opponent. (And a generous timing window for catching an incoming ball means I was sitting on the left trigger command for this, somewhat reflexively, but the game came up with a way to force me out of crutch moves and keep me on my toes.)

Because Knockout City is round-based, teams can go from getting killed pretty badly (and tanking the round, sort of like a tennis player in a losing early set) to a very dominant second or third round and a comeback victory. As Bala puts it: “I was getting killed in Diamond Dash [a team-based game where KO’d players drop a litter of diamonds, meaning sharp teammates can be there to make the save.] But I came out with the last determining point, getting the last diamond for our team that won the match. You had a surprising number of clutch moments like that in this game.”

The one area of concern I did have is what latency might do to a fast-paced game. Bala touted the engine that Velan developed specifically for Knockout City, which the studio calls called Viper. It’s of course very technical, but, “We added another super-high performance engine with a novel computation method to actually hold a physics simulation synchronized,” Bala said.

The aesthetics of Knockout City are very important to the game, only because rooftop maps mean pitfalls (in one case, a big swinging wrecking ball) but also bounce pads and perches to reach. It’s not a court-based sport, in other words. It also means endless, flashy customizables (there are 17 cosmetic slots and three characters to build up and swap around) which therefore means Velan plans seasonal content and the like, once the game launches on May 21, 2021.

And with cross-play, and cross progression among all platforms, it means Knockout City should have a large user base at launch so that people get into the action quickly. Knockout City is going to be available on everything: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PS5, Windows PC (via Steam and Origin) and Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

As for whether I’ll get excellent at Knockout City, Bala dispensed some protips but mostly said, yeah, watch a couple of rounds and I’ll get the hang of it — and if not, I’ll at least see a very entertaining video game. “Just spend some time watching it,” he stated. “I think it’s a pretty watchable game as well.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.