Teamwork is essential to Knockout City; after two preview betas, that much I already knew. But in my last few hours with the dodgeball-as-a-sport multiplayer game before it launches on Friday, I realized there might be such a thing as too much teamwork.
It’s refreshing to see a game rely so much on cooperative play right off the bat, among people with whom I am not communicating with over voice chat. And it’s remarkable that this happens in a sports-style game whose fundamentals and tactics are largely unknown to everyone. Credit a well-balanced design from Velan Studios, whose developers have built a game that doesn’t just suggest that folks work together — it genuinely makes that easier.
But as an example of how those tools might facilitate too much cooperation, I present the Party Team KO playlist, shown to a group of reviewers and influencers on May 18. Like nearly all gametypes in Knockout City, this involves teams of three players roaming a zany, futuristic map, hunting for red rubber dodgeballs to fling at the other side. The first team to 10 eliminations wins.
In Party Team KO, all the balls are special balls — variants that explode, ensnare opponents, or grant multiple shots. Nothing wrong with that. But when a teammate rolls themself into a ball and runs into you, that overrides the weapon you’re holding. You drop that ball and pick your teammate up, and you can throw them instead.
Ordinarily, this is a good thing. Thwacking someone with a teammate is a one-hit elimination, and it takes three standard hits to put someone out otherwise. But when I have a Bomb Ball, whose explosion is an instant KO, and I’m ready to toss it at someone who is caught out in an open area, it’s very frustrating to have my shot interrupted by a helpful teammate doing what they should — trailing the play, rolling into a ball, and then into me because they had nothing better to do….