The video game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout started out as an easy-to-play online multiplayer game for everyone – kids, parents and players of all ages.
But now six months into the coronavirus pandemic, the cute, colorful addition to the battle royale genre – think Fortnite – has provided a salve to social isolation and an escape from the constant barrage of bad news. More than 2 million players have bought the game for PCs on Steam video game marketplace since its release Tuesday.
The buzz is hot with this one. While it’s not an apples and oranges comparison, consider that Taylor Swift sold and streamed the equivalent to 846,000 copies of her new album “Folklore” in the first week, according to Nielsen Music. Fall Guys has been out less than a week.
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Fall Guys’ popularity goes beyond PCs because the game is “also wildly successful” on Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription game service for PlayStation 4, said Mike Wilson, industry veteran and co-founder of the game’s publisher Devolver Digital.
“The Taylor Swift ‘Folklore’ comparison is important, as it’s the first time in my 25 years of doing this pretty successfully that my daughters have ever been remotely impressed by anything relating to my work,” Wilson said. “But seriously, this game being this successful is truly fantastic, as it will hopefully inspire other developers and publishers to bring more joyful, non-violent, but still competitive games into the world.”
Time spent playing video games has increased during the pandemic’s shutdowns and stay-at-home measures with nearly all players (94%) devoting more time to games, according to a recent survey of 5,000 U.S. gamers in May by The NPD Group. “Video games are one of the primary ways friends and family are staying connected through a difficult time,” said Mat Piscatella, an industry analyst with The NPD Group.
Spending more time with games? Here’s a quartet worthy of some of your time.
Developed by U.K. studio Mediatonic and published by Devolver, this game-show inspired action game ($19.99 on Steam, free on PlayStation Plus, rated for all ages) pits up to 60 online competitors in a series of obstacle courses reminiscent to American Ninja Warrior. You command your customizable jelly bean-shaped character – they look a bit like the Weebles toys of the ’70s.
You parachute into the competition à la Fortnite, but when you land, it’s not all guns, it’s games such as avoiding giant rolling balls (a nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark), or avoiding giant whirligigs and navigating massive seesaws. Do better than the opposition and you move to the next round. It’s fun and addictive – and the easiest multiplayer game you’ll ever join.
There’s really no such thing as a bad Mario game, and this latest Switch adventure ($59.99, all ages) featuring Nintendo’s signature icon in two-dimensional form is as charming as ever. As Mario, players must rescue Princess Peach (yes, again) and restore her kingdom from an army of origami enemies.
Paper Mario features a ring-based combat system where you battle “Folded Soldiers” in an arena, using a combination of weapons like hammers to win. Players also use confetti scattered around the world to find hidden secrets and snag precious coins.
This epic PlayStation 4 adventure ($59.99-up, ages 17-up) from studio Sucker Punch Productions (inFamous) takes place in the 13th century, as you follow the story of samurai Jin Sakai as he fights to rescue his uncle from the hands of Mongol forces.
Tsushima lets players explore Jin’s island home, recruiting allies and sharpening his sword skills to liberate the island and its inhabitants from Mongols. Fighting requires patience and strategy, delivering incredible results as you master the game’s various methods of attack. Players can also choose to experience the story in various visual styles, including the black-and-white filtered “Kurosawa Mode” in honor of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
This vibrant but challenging survival game for the Xbox One – also coming to the Xbox Series X – has drawn a crowd, too. One million players explored Grounded in the first 48 hours of its release last week.
Developer Obsidian Entertainment (The Outer Worlds) has put out an early access version of the game on Xbox Game Pass (free with subscription; for players 13-up) and Steam Early Access ($29.99) to get feedback from players as a way to help work out the bugs ahead of the final version. But that’s not really going to happen because bugs are a big part of the game.
Your character wakes up having been shrunk to Antman-size in their own backyard and must explore an intricately imagined jungle-like landscape to figure out what has happened. Ants, spiders and even mites are formidable opponents for your shrunken alter ego. You can explore the game individually or with up to four players.