Fall Guys still has a problem: team games

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is Mario Party writ large — a battle royale experience I’ve been training for my entire life. But for all the silly nonsense and the cute framing, Fall Guys is a competitive experience. When the “show” ends, there is one winner and 59 losers.

But as I go for the Crown each game, I find myself clenching up during the mini-game selection. Not because Fruit Chute stresses me out, but because I don’t want to get stuck with Fall Guys’ worst feature: team games.

Mediatonic is aware of the team game problem, and it’s tried to implement a few fixes already — such as reduced timers on some of the more frustrating games, like Team Tail Tag. And while these changes are welcome, they don’t solve the real problem: team games make me feel powerless.

What makes Fall Guys’ team games so different?

Trying to push other Fall Guys off platforms, as it should be
Image: Mediatonic/Devolver Digital

In most of Fall Guys’ minigames, I’m only out for myself. In the race minigames, like The Whirlygig, I’ve got to make my own way through the fans, onto the rotating platforms, and through the finish line. Sure I can troll some people along the way, and they can try to push me around, but I’m responsible for myself. And when I lose, that responsibility falls on me.

Team games in Fall Guys take a different approach. In Rock’N’Roll, my team needs to push a ball down a hill before the other team. No matter how on-point I am, or how hard I push that ball, my little jellybean body can’t move it alone. I need help, forcing me to rely on others temporarily so I can get the win in the long run. As a solo player, that’s a frustrating barrier to victory.

In games like Team Tail Tag, I can only do so much to make my team win. I could be the best Team Tail Tag player around, and my team could still finish with only a single tail, my own. If I grab a tail, I’m finished contributing to my team — I’m at the mercy of my allies, waiting for them to accomplish a goal I’ve already succeeded at.

It’s why Hoopsie Daisy is one of the only team games where you can really carry — I can punt my little body through dozens of hoops in a match, and come in clutch for my friends. If my team is bad, I can do my best to try and win — sometimes, I can even make sure we qualify. But that’s the major difference: one great player can make a difference in Hoopsie Daisy, but not in Team Tail Tag.

Why the team modes in Fall Guys are more frustrating

Hoarders is truly cursed
Image: Mediatonic/Devolver Digital via Polygon

When I lose in competitive games like League of Legends or Apex Legends, I want any loses I take to come from a superior opponent or a mistake I made. When I lose to a god-tier Hex-A-Gone player who is somehow still on the top level at the end, I’m bummed, but I feel OK about it — they’re better than me. But finishing first in two race minigames only to go out by getting stuck on the terrible yellow team usually ends in me putting Fall Guys down for the night.

Team games are often great if you’re playing with your friends. If you dive into a Fall Guys match with a premade group, you’ll stick with your pals in team games. It’s a completely different experience — one that’s fun in the right circumstances. Friends can come in clutch to protect an ally in Team Tail Tag, or work collectively to win Rock’N’Roll. But as a solo player, these team minigames mar the competitive Fall Guys experience.

One of the best parts about playing a battle royale game with friends is when you come in with a great play for the win. Your friends may not be much help in other battle royale games, but at least they don’t actively hold you back from winning on your own. Fall Guys takes the opposite approach, punishing you for the poor performance of your mostly random teammates.

It makes sense to add variety to Fall Guys — and the team games pay for themselves in pure comedic value and schadenfreude in a co-op setting. But as a battle royale I love to win, Fall Guys’ team games usually feel more frustrating than fun.

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