‘Knockout City’ Has The Potential For Chaotic Fun, If You Have The Skills To Stay In The Game

Knockout City is kind of like a lot of things. Its bright, endlessly-customizable outfits and gear instantly bring Fortnite to mind and the chaotic gameplay certainly reinforces that. It’s like a lot of frenetic shooters, skinned in a style that games like Rocket Arena have emulated without the instant replayability that has made similar titles Rocket League and Fortnite extremely successful.

But the early returns on playing the chaotic dodgeball simulator — whimsically set in a world where guns were never invented and scores are settled by gangs with high-tech dodgeball matches — are strong enough to make you wonder if Knockout City will be a game future titles emulate themselves. Unlike Rocket Arena, a game where chaos and confusion never really translated into fun, Knockout City is fun even when it’s frenetically busy.

Part of the allure is that, at its core, it’s very simple. The main controls are on the triggers, which allow you to catch a ball and throw a ball. There are varying kinds of special balls, power moves, and lots and lots of dodging and running, but the core mechanics are the timing of throwing and catching a ball. Get hit once and you can get eliminated with a second hit. Or catch a ball thrown your way and you can try to knock someone else out.

Once you get all that down and test out the mechanics, playing through the various modes of Knockout City is to immediately confront just how good you are at the game. Because despite its simplicity, it can get complicated in a hurry. Teamwork is everything, timing is key and working together to find isolated players and plunk them in the face with digital balls is essential. The learning curve is swift here, especially when playing against teams that are in a groove and know what to expect. If you’re going to wander off alone and not communicate with your teammates, you could get completely wrecked by a more experienced squad.


Ultimately what makes Knockout City worth trying is that it feels like dodgeball, which is good because at its core, it is. Teams can go to work on individuals, and the fear of taking someone on with a ball in their hands is real. But making that happen in a video game is easier said than done. The game’s engine works here, and the physics are realistic without making things too simplistic. Knockouts don’t come cheap, and they certainly don’t feel it.

This is a skill-based game through and through, which means if you don’t have the juice, you can feel like a liability to your teammates in a hurry. Though there are few things more immediately satisfying than turning yourself into a ball and letting a teammate use you to plunk someone else, being the easy target for another team is a humbling experience no matter how quick the game goes. There’s an equity in there that’s hard to beat, though, and knowing less-talented players can’t simply VC-spend their way to glory is at least a bit of comfort here.


EA launched the game on Friday with a Block Party event where the game is free to try for its first two weeks. With no level caps or restrictions on what you can play and earn, anyone still skeptical of the $20 price of admission can give it a try for themselves and see if the juice is worth the squeeze here. I’d just recommend playing with some friends, taking it slow and practicing a good deal before you let yourself into the competitive space, because things are already tough out there.