DODGEBALL MEETS BATTLE ROYALE IN EA’S ‘KNOCKOUT CITY’
“This isn’t dodgeball. It’s dodgebrawl.”
That’s how Karthik Bala, co-founder and CEO of Velan Studios, describes Knockout City, the new online multiplayer Battle Royale-style dodgeball game. The title is developed by Velan and published by EA.
In Knockout City, players must master the art of throwing, catching, passing and, of course, dodging in a joyful, yet highly competitive, experience that will smack them in the face with surprises. Each game of dodgeball takes place in a colorful, cartoon-y map where players must use strategy to overcome a world that’s constantly moving and outthink their opponents.
“Play head games with your opponents.” Harrison, marketing manager at Velan Studios, advises new players. “If you’re facing off against another player, it’s all about messing with their timing and perfecting yours.”
Timing is a factor when playing Knockout City. Unlike shooter Battle Royale games, in which bullets instantly hit or miss opponents, Knockout City’s balls take time to fly through the air, an important consideration when aiming at a moving target. Holding onto a ball and waiting for the right timing or angle is often the better choice than immediately firing off at an opponent.
One unique factor about the gameplay is if players ever find themselves without ammo, they still have a weapon. Players can turn themselves into the ball, curling up their avatar and sending its body careening into opponents.
The game offers five different maps on which to play, as well as a crew hideout. The hideout features a dummy, which players can use to practice catching, throwing and dodging. There are also six unique ball designs and hundreds of cosmetic options for avatars. Knockout City also boasts strong music integration, with five playlists set to be available at launch.
Teams can consist of up to 32 crew members. To challenge players, the game will also offer daily and weekly contracts to execute for points.
Knockout City functions on a street rank progression system, which allows players to unlock new cosmetic items with each level-up, and offers three modes of play: street, league and private. Leveling up can only be achieved through gameplay, as the creators believe in skill and style over monetized power-ups.
“We strongly believe that skill shouldn’t be monetized, because nobody should be able to pay to get an advantage over the competition,” says Bala. “Knockout City is designed around everyone being on a level playing field where…only practicing your skills individually and as a team can give you an edge on your opponents.”
There are customization items available to buy in the in-game shop, but they are all purely cosmetic and have no effect on gameplay.
When asked if there were esport ambitions, Bala was optimistic. “The community decides if this game is going to be an esport or not,” he says. “It’s an ongoing process and dialogue with the community, and we designed this game to be a client server game with dedicated game servers that are server authoritative. Competition and fairness and scale based gameplay is paramount. So we’ll see where this goes.”
For those who are curious, no, Ben Stiller has not lent his appearance to the game. But the avatar customization is extensive enough that players could create a character who looks just like him and the rest of the Dodgeball cast.
A closed beta for the game will begin on Feb. 20. A limited time free trial kicks off the game’s official launch on May 21 for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC.
“We truly believe in the fun that Knockout City offers, so we want to let everyone try before they buy,” Bala says of the trial. “This isn’t a demo with locked-out features. We’re offering every playlist, every map and no limitations on progression.”
Players who choose to purchase the full game during their free trial will be able to transfer all progression and will receive additional cosmetic rewards as they brawl on. Players who purchase the game after the free trial can still transfer their progress, but will not receive the bonus items.
The full game will be available for $19.99.
Photo courtesy of EA Games