Do you remember your first Fall Guys win? For me, it was soon after launch. I'd been playing for a week, reached a few finals previously and Fall Mountain was up. Eight players were left, my three party members were out and crucially, I started at the back row. Not great odds, but once we began, the cannons became my new friends. Knocking over several contenders, I swiftly dodged those spinning hammers, two players jumped early and once they'd missed, that crown was mine. What a rush that gave me.
Generally, big multiplayer games aren't my normal go-to and shooters rarely grab my attention, so battle royales like Apex or Fortnite never cut it. As a platforming fan, Fall Guys held my interest immediately through its unique premise, offering a 60-player game show as we (usually) competed across platforming courses. I was hooked but that initial feeling didn't last. I'm familiar with Season 2 and 3's content, having played it in subsequent seasons, though I barely recall them at the time.
For a time, my interest waned gradually, only playing once or twice a month. Like any live service game though, Fall Guys gradually evolved and a year later, Mediatonic's implemented significant changes which cemented this experience. Show Selector let us choose which playlist to participate in, stage variants were introduced, while challenges provided extra kudos and crown shards. That's without mentioning custom lobbies and PC/PS4 cross-play, I can go on. All great additions, but what brought me back was Squads Show in Season 4. Arguably, nothing's transformed this experience more.
Fall Guys always allowed four-player parties but outside specific games, you weren't a team. Sure, you'd (hopefully) cheer each other on if you'd been eliminated, but early exits left you powerless to do anything but spectate in subsequent rounds. Potentially, that left players waiting long periods to restart and granted, the Main Show adds a competitive element between friends, but watching them take the win (or get eliminated trying) isn't everyone's idea of a fun time.
By catering to co-op minded players, Squads filled the niche I'd been looking for. Implementing a points system to account for four-player teams, a fresh dynamic within Fall Guys was born, so if one party member wins, everyone wins. If the average score is high enough, you'll all get through or be jointly eliminated, encouraging greater co-operation. While Squads doesn't give full crown, that satisfaction earned by securing team wins makes those 20 crown shards even sweeter.
Considering Mediatonic planned Squads as a temporary mode, I'm glad they made it permanent, later offering limited time variants with Duos and Trios. For those who've skipped Fall Guys, Squads might not seem like the biggest change, but with my friends, we gained a new appreciation for the party platformer, and Seasons 4-5 see me back online most weeks. It's been a fine year for Fall Guys and I'm looking forward to what comes next. Hopefully more Godzilla costumes.