Walter Waffles did not perform well in Fall Guys. He may have peaked early in the Door Dash game, but he stumbled when it counted and came up short. We do not talk about Walter Waffles because of the shame he has brought. Potato Pete, however, is a champion. Not only did he crush Door Dash, he came out on top in the other games, grabbing the crown and securing the victory over the other bean people. Not only did he make me a proud father but he also got me excited to see more Fall Guys in action.
Fall Guys is like if a battle royale game was filtered through a game show like MXC and filled with silly bean people. It’s not a coincidence either since the eccentric game shows MXC and Takeshi’s Castle were both huge inspirations for the game. Senior Game Designer Joe Walsh said the team came up with the idea after looking at those game shows and realized that no one had ever made a video game like that.
“There are quiz show games that are really popular and when you start to get to the end of the quiz show games, it’s super exciting,” he said. “But I wanted to line up on that start line with up to 100 other people and feel like it was me versus the swinging hammers and the wrecking balls in a map up to the finish line.”
Fall Guys Preview | The goofy gauntlets
This feeling is immediately evident in the three games (out of around 30) developer Mediatonic had at E3 2019. All three used the simple mechanics of running, diving, and grabbing differently. The first, Door Dash, put all 60 players (the final game will have 100) stacked across a line where they have to run to the finish line through a series of doors. Some of the doors are fake, but you don’t know until someone has bounced off the faux door.
The second game was a bit more simplistic, as the players that have a tail must try to guard it while others without a tail have to secure one. The final round put the little Teletubby-esque beings at the bottom of a hill of fully of obstacles and a shiny, floating crown at the top.
Stampeding towards a bunch of possible doors was a blast as it embraced the chaos and struck a decent balance of luck and skill. While you don’t know what passages will be blocked, there is a strategy to hang just a little bit back to ensure you get a real door.
Hiding your tail was a novel idea but it isn’t as interactive as it should be. It could be an unfortunate event byproduct of mostly playing with bots but there wasn’t enough interaction with the other tailed players. These types of simpler modes should allow you to mess with others a more slapstick experience. Climbing up the obstacle-filled mountain was a solid mix of pandemonium and tactics as you had to carefully time your jumps and dashes, but almost no amount of planning can keep you totally safe.
Fall Guys Preview | Embracing chaos
And you shouldn’t want to be totally safe. Part of the brilliance of it was each game’s touch of chance that made it more exciting. Balancing skill and luck is tricky in party games and titles like Mario Party can often show how wrong that balance can go. Winning through skill is probably the most objective way to look at it but that can turn off some people who aren’t as good and party games need to welcome people of all skill levels. But no one wants to lose to someone who is rubbing the controller on their ass. Walsh spoke to how the team is experimenting with randomness but while also leaving room for strategic play.
“One thing that we found is that in even games like Door Dash, which has these doors that are randomly breakable, there’s skill to it that comes a little bit later where you don’t actually want to be ahead for a lot of the game because you’re the one taking the risk smashing your head into the door to figure out if it’s breakable or not,” he explained. “So we find there are emergent strategies that happen over time as we playtest them in the studio. But we’re definitely happy to embrace the chaos in this game.”
Fall Guys Preview | Mean bean machines
The bean people were also specifically crafted to make this chaos look as hilarious as possible. Their stubby legs and wide bodies hit that perfect threshold of adorable and adorably mindless and make it funny as they ragdoll around. But, unless there’s an actual violent battle royale nestled in there somewhere, they always get back up, which is a positive attitude Walsh said the studio wanted to inject into the game.
He also talked about adding more games down the line, which could even come with additional cosmetics. While it wasn’t as vast in the demo, Mediatonic plans on having a ton of wacky customization options like suits that make the player look like a shark, lamb, or pigeon. After all, there would have to be a ton of costumes and hats if there are going to be 100 different human players in every match.
But there is only one Potato Pete. He hustled and came out on top over the other lesser bean people that couldn’t compete in the small offering of modes. Through their simplicity and high comedic potential, they made it easy to have faith that its other game types will hover around that quality. And if they do, we can only prepare for the return of the legendary Potato Pete.