Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has seen incredible success since releasing earlier this month to PC and PS4, in no small part due to the amount of streamers who play the game. The game takes the popular model of competitive battle royale elimination seen in games such as Player Unknown Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and Tetris 99, and mixes it with the multiplayer platforming excitement more typically seen in Nintendo games such as Mario Party. 60 players compete in a series of elimination rounds of different game types, until the final victor is crowned among a small handful of competitors.
Any gamer who plays Fall Guys will be aware of the panic-inducing mayhem that is in store for them during each round. All of us under the oppressive grip of a worldwide pandemic, we naturally can’t help but notice some strong similarities between the way the game is played and the world outside. Below are five reasons why Fall Guys makes such a good metaphor for the world in America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
#1 – Racing Stages as Lockdown Panic
The first stages that players will see when jumping into the game are most likely going to be one of the many games in which all of the players race past a series of obstacles in the hopes of being one of the few to qualify for the next round. When the virus panic first set its grips in America, the sheer amount of panic buying caused some people to hoard essentials and food, leaving others scrambling to try and make ends meet, going to many different stores just to try and find everything they need.
The racing game mode in Fall Guys sees similar behavior, where players are seen doing everything they can to meet their own needs, forsaking the needs of the next guy. As long as you get your place in the next round, it doesn’t matter how many players you don’t know don’t make it. This leads to massive groups of players all going the same direction in the maze, similar to how people stormed supermarkets as soon as they opened to make sure they were among the first to get what they needed.
#2 – Survival Stages as Trying to Stay Informed
During the beginning of the pandemic, trying to get good information was difficult to do. As we learned information in real time along with the scientists, we kept hearing a million different things from a million different sources, some of them more trustworthy than others. Because of this, it quickly became a game of picking what you believed was the right way to act and sticking to your choice.
Although these elements are common in all the survival stages in Fall Guys, none more accurately captures the phenomenon better than the Perfect Match stage, which shows the player a random assortment of potential solutions, forcing them to try and remember all the options until a countdown displays the only right choice, at which time the player must remember where that choice was and run to that square before time runs out. All others, unfortunately are eliminated, much like in real life.
#3 – Team Stages as Politicized Response
Perhaps one of the most staggeringly jarring things about the American response to the pandemic was how somehow the issue became a bipartisan affair. We won’t go into specifics, but you probably noticed how quickly it became not about scientific evidence and more about what each side could do to score political points with their constituents. Instead of working together, Americans took a stand based on their political affiliation, spurred on by the cable news channels.
In the same way, teams in Fall Guys compete to win, putting all their eggs in one basket and hoping their side ends up on top at the end.
#4 – Final Stages as Social Distancing
If you are among the most skillful, most lucky players in Fall Guys, you might make it to the final stage. In one of three possible stages, you will compete with the remaining handful of players in a head-to-head competition where only one player can be crowned victorious. One of the key strategies for winning these stages is to distance yourself from other players to stay alive the longest.
In the reality of pandemic America, it has always been a good idea to distance yourself from anyone else who may potentially be affected by the virus. Whether it’s avoiding that coughing guy in the grocery store by ducking down the aisle nearby, or politely turning down the invitation to that birthday party where you know that no one will be wearing a mask and several attendees believe it’s all a hoax, we also do everything we can so that we can be crowned victorious against the terrible disease one day. For now, we can only try to win that crown in Fall Guys. Seriously, you should try it. It’s a great distraction from the world outside.