Interviews

Talking Knockout City with Velan Studios’ Jeremy Russo

Grab a crew -- Knockout City is available now.

Knockout City is right around the corner, and ahead of its release on Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, Stevivor was able to sit down for a quick pre-release chat with Game Director Jeremy Russo.

According to Russo, Knockout City is an inclusive, safe space… where you’re likely to get balls to the face. Welcome to dodge brawl.

“There’s a ton of detail baked into the world that makes this seriously competitive yet ridiculous concept,” Russo said. “[But] despite the ongoing skirmishes, this is a bright, optimistic place where no one really dies. They’re just KO-ed, and people of all types are accepted and treated equally.”

That lovely concept of equality may face a hurdle or two as players progress. Developer Velan Studios maintains the title has no pay-to-win enhancements, so players on an equal footing can gain some ground through reflexes and strategy alone.

Knockout City is based on flat play,” Russo continued. “There are no upgradeable classes, no special loadouts, no gameplay advantages whatsoever that can be earned or purchased to get an edge over your opponents. This game is 100% skill based. At its core, this game is all about positioning and timing.”

Those skills all revolve around the concepts of throwing and catching a ball. You can throw using a quick throw feature, which launches a relatively slow ball, or charge your shot up for more speed. When it comes to catching, players will need to hone their reflexes and timing to become effective.

“It’s like a seamless blend of elements from shooters, fighting games and sports,” Russo maintained. “The automatic lock on and homing mechanics help new players to jump in and start throwing, but experienced brawlers will need reflexes and strategy to win.

“Trick shots, dodging tackling and the ultimate mind game of fake throws give you a lot to learn over the first few weeks of play, and much more to master over the coming years. But even highly skilled opponents can be taken down with something else that makes Knockout City stand out, and that’s teamwork.”

You’ll be able to pass the ball to a teammate for a better shot, or even work with one of your crew so they can literally become a throwable ball if you’ve a lack of traditional ammunition around.

“At any time, any player can… turn into a ball themselves,” Russo explained. “Pick them up and throw them just like a dodgeball for an instant KO. Or you can risk it all by charging up your balled up teammate into an ultimate throw — this turns them into a bomb that, when thrown, sends them high up in the air with a bird’s eye view and a targeting reticule to try and capture as many people they can into it.”

Up against the likes of free-to-play titles like Rocket League, Fortnite and Call of Duty Warzone, Knockout City will also offer a battle pass of sorts with its street ranking system, one that awards XP and ranks through the completion of matches. Also tied to the system is access to additional modes; rank 5 opens up playlists and rank 10 offers league play. XP can also be earned through contracts, “daily, weekly and season long challenges that reward you with boatloads of XP,” according to Russo.

“There are hundreds of levels… across multiple tiers,” Russo said, “and every single one of them gives you rewards ranging from cosmetics to customise your character or crew to currencies and XP boosters called energy drinks.

“Every cosmetic you earn from street rank can only be earned in street rank and can’t be earned or purchased anywhere else in the game,” he asserted. “The order of the cosmetics are rewarded is randomised to ensure each player’s journey is unique.”

While it’s available at no additional cost to subscribers of EA Play (and via Xbox to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subs as well), Knockout City will additionally offer up a free 10-day trial to those without those particular subscription service. It’s a decent chunk of time to determine whether or not this paid-multiplayer title is for you.

Knockout City is planned for a 21 May 2020 release on Windows PC via Origin and Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X, PS4, PS5 and Switch. Cross-play and cross-progression will be offered between all platforms. We previewed it here.


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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.