I recently sat down with some friends and fired up Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, the silly party game starring hapless beans and dangerous obstacle courses. It was my first time with the game in months, and I had an excellent time, but after my first round I was struck with a barrage of currencies, numbers, and achievements that felt like a horde of Vegas slot machines. It made me question how I feel about the entire game.
Playing a game of Fall Guys is great. As you go through the stages, all the good moments are still there. But I can go months between sessions of Fall Guys because it’s a good game. Fall Guys fits perfectly into its niche: an accessible, silly party game with tons of replayability — a really refreshing twist on the battle royale formula! But when I’m in a round, I’m just having fun. I’m not thinking about achievements and season passes. When I’m playing chess, I don’t stop to check if I’ve racked up Rook Points.
None of this is unprecedented; nearly every game has a season pass and multiple currencies. I currently have season passes waiting for me to complete in Fallout 76, Red Dead Online, Warframe, and half a dozen other games. It’s common to have season passes for weapons, cosmetics, upgrades, or clothing outfits — but Fall Guys never needed it. It’s a party game. It’s like if you played Mario Party and after every round, Mario asked for the three digits on the back of your mom’s credit card.
This isn’t a new problem for Fall Guys. The game’s crowns currency drew criticism early on for being so elusive as they could only be gained by winning a round. The developers made changes to address that and give people a sense of progress. Many players enjoy earning rewards and seeing bars fill up. But the seasonal progression feels so separate from the main game, yet so overwhelming at the same time. There are people who probably mostly play Fall Guys specifically for that meta progression.
It feels as though every game wants to have the stickiness of a MMORPG, where players dutifully show up to do their daily objectives. That’s a structure that works when I have things to do in a game world — if I log into Warframe, I probably have a laundry list of in-game levels to hit and enemies to kill, and the season pass just augments that. With Fall Guys, I just wanna be a bean, baby.