There’s A New Type Of Fall Guys Jackass

fall guys season four
Image: Mediatonic

I would like to offer a sincere apology to my Fall Guys squad. I fell into the slime. I thought we were out. So I quit. I didn’t realize how much that screwed you (fall) guys! It won’t happen again, I promise.

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Yesterday, as part of the platformer royale’s season four update, Fall Guys received a squads mode. Rather than traditional solo matches—where you qualify for new rounds depending on your personal ranking—you’re paired with up to three other team members. At the end of races, you’ll earn points based on how fast you finish. Survival rounds, meanwhile, give you more points the longer you survive. The total score of all four members determines whether or not your squad progresses to the next round.

Better yet, if your squad makes it to the final round, just one member needs to win for the whole squad to claim victory. That’ll net each of you 20 Crown Shards. Earn 60 of those, and you get a Crown.

On paper, this all sounds divine, particularly for those of us embroiled in an eternal struggle to actually win a final round. And when it works, squads mode really is a blast. Not only is the sense of camaraderie a lovely addition to this notoriously cutthroat game, but playing with a team also significantly lowers the barrier to earning those sweet, sweet Crowns. Well, sometimes. There’s a disturbing trend wherein players will quit out when they personally fail, effectively dooming their squadmates to disqualification.

Let’s say you’re playing a round of Block Party, and you somehow get knocked into the slime within the first few seconds. Muscle memory would tell you that you’re done, that it’s time to quit out and try again because there’s no way you’re in the qualifying bloc. In squad mode, though, you still have a chance. Yes, by falling early, you’ve made it more difficult for your squadmates, but there’s still a chance they (and by extension you) will hang on. Maybe they’ll play really well. Or maybe all the other squads will play really poorly. The point is: There’s a chance.

What’s all but certain, though, is that your squad will fail in the next round if you quit out. Think about it. Your score is determined in totality. Pitting a team of three beans against various teams of four puts the team of three at an immediate, practically insurmountable disadvantage. I played several hours of Fall Guys’ squads mode last night. I didn’t once see a three-person team qualify past a round.

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fall guys squad elimination screen
The initial elimination screen very obviously warns you to stay in the game.
Screenshot: Mediatonic / Kotaku

After the game’s fourth season went live yesterday, players took to the Fall Guys subreddit and quickly pointed out the issues with players who prematurely throw in the towel. You could chalk it up to a bad attitude or to muscle memory. You could say it’s even the result of a lack of paying attention, but the elimination screen is pretty clear that you should stay in the round until the end to see if you’ve qualified. (See above.) Those people—and, yeah, I say this as someone who is guilty of such a sin and totally apologetic for it—deserve a single strike.

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In terms of felonious Fall Guys behavior, I’d put early quitters above those much-hated grabbers who hold you back from victory at the last moment. In solo mode, Fall Guys is a dog-eat-dog gauntlet. Poor sportsmanship doesn’t deserve praise, of course, but it’s expected and arguably defensible. When you play squads, there’s an implicit level of trust. You’re a team. You’re in it together. Betraying that trust—whether maliciously or carelessly—is indefensible.

The logical change would be to switch squad scoring from a linear total to a calculated average. That way, squads of three or even two could feasibly go up against full parties. (Kotaku reached out to Mediatonic, the game’s developer, about any potential plans to implement this but did not hear back in time for publication.)

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That’s not the only issue with squads at the moment. As somewhat of a flashback to the game’s launch-day server woes, loading into a game of squads is somewhat of a mess. A match will start once 40 players queue up. But, according to Mediatonic, once a match is full, spots can’t be refilled if anyone leaves. This prevents the game from starting, so if you see the player count go down instead of up, quit to the title rather than waiting around.

fall guys big shots
Pro tip for Big Shots: Stand right around here and you’ll almost certainly survive to the end.
Screenshot: Mediatonic / Kotaku
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But the squads mode is largely a delightful addition to Fall Guys, and I’m loving the fourth season overall. I stepped away from Fall Guys for seasons two and three, so there are plenty of new levels to enjoy, including the seven added this season. The brand-new Big Shots stage—in which you balance on a see-saw and dodge enormous projectiles blasted out of cannons—is a true standout.

There’s a delicious intensity to squad play. Yes, there’s pressure to do your best, since other people are relying on you. But the spectator mode will also put you on the edge of your seat. When you finish a race before your teammates, the camera will focus on stragglers, defaulting to your partners. You can watch with bated breath as they journey through the course. In solo play, the spectator mode, for me, has historically been a moment of downtime, where I’d check my phone or get a drink or whatever. In squads, I can’t bring myself to look away. I’m just so focused on rooting for my fellow beans.. It’s not a strange feeling, but it is a new one. I don’t know how long this will last, but Fall Guys once again has its hooks in me.

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I’m just sorry I screwed up that one game.

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Staff Writer, Kotaku

DISCUSSION

Averaging team scores instead of totalling them is a tough choice for the devs. It can lead to toxicity of a different kind where players performing poorly get excluded from parties or they themselves just feel even worse for “bringing the team down” (because their absence would have boosted the team score).