Red Beard Games and Hi-Rez Studios have announced a brand new third-person platform brawler that’s set to launch on December 6th, 2022 for PC, PlayStation and Xbox. It’s called Divine Knockout, and you can check out the game’s debut trailer at the top of the page.
Similarly to fellow Hi-Rez Studios game SMITE, Divine Knockout is set in a world that sees gods and mythical figures like Thor, Athena, King Arthur and more doing battle. Instead of being a MOBA, Divine Knockout plays out like a platform brawler, much like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but with the added twist that this game is fully 3D, which certainly gives Divine Knockout an identity of its own.
Alex Cantatore, VP of Publishing at Red Beard Games, spoke to us about Divine Knockout, including some of the difficulties the team faced in creating a 3D platform fighter: “There were dozens of drastically different versions of DKO over the years and years of development. We actually started with the pillars of “Third-Person” and “Physics Combat” and it took a lot of experimentation to end up where we are today. Some versions were more like a third-person physics shooter than a platform fighter.”
Red Beard Games themselves have a lot of experience when it comes to physics-based platform fighting, as a lot of the core dev team worked on the indie game Sky Noon, a first-person shooter/platform brawler hybrid that launched in 2018. Alex mentioned that the core inspiration for Divine Knockout came from the work on Sky Noon.
“We approached that group [who worked on Sky Noon] with a relatively simple idea: What would a physics game using chibi gods look like? Over the course of three-plus years, we tried to answer that question in dozens of ways. But we just kept pushing to make it more fun, to find what worked, and where we landed was somewhere kind of unexpected and new: A third-person platform fighter.”
As for the gameplay, Red Beard and Hi-Rez are hoping to maintain the reputation of approachability that the platform fighter genre has attained over the years. Special moves and abilities are tied to the just the press of a button, in the same way as a MOBA or hero shooter, meaning combos don’t become a huge mess of commands that alienate some newer players.
Hearing the words MOBA or hero shooter might trigger thoughts of character classes and specific abilities, but Divine Knockout is a bit more nuanced than that. While it does feature some characters that lend themselves well to team play, he was quick to reiterate that the main focus when balancing the game is that each character can stand on their own in a fight.
“First and foremost: the gods in DKO are focused on fighting. Each is designed to be able to hold their own in 1v1s or in 3v3s. Some characters do lean into certain archetypes – say a speedy assassin, a heavy bruiser, or a zone controller. But DKO is quite a bit different from SMITE; there aren’t firm roles that teams need to have, and there’s no one way to win.”
Just because Divine Knockout is simple to play doesn’t mean there isn’t depth and complexity though, with Alex mentioning specifically that spacing and edge guarding become a lot more difficult to master when you have a third dimension to consider. Alex also stated that just because everyone has access to the same controls, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for skill gaps to emerge: “Most of the depth in DKO is not input complexity. Positioning and awareness are absolutely crucial to success; spamming abilities might work for new players, but experienced players will understand the importance of timing these just for when they need them.”
However, the real depth seems to come from Divine Knockout’s customisation, specifically with its Talent system. Each God in the game can be equipped with four Traits and three Blessings, and these can drastically alter the stats and capabilities of the characters you play. One particular build that Alex mentioned turns Sol into a glass cannon, who deals increased knockback but takes more damage as a result.
These Talent loadouts appear to offer a great deal of versatility and variety to build your Gods around a playstyle that works for you, whether that’s defensive, offensive, brawling or ranged. Another example floated by Alex was two separate versions of Athena, with one that’s excellent and shielding for allies, while another utilises stronger spear throwing to dominate at range.
Divine Knockout will launch on December 6th with a range of modes, including 1v1s, 2v2s and 3v3s, and plenty of match types too, such as Knockout, King of the Hill, Coin Blitz and Oddball. The game will also support full platform cross-play and cross-progression, meaning you can play on any supported platform while still keeping your progress and playing with friends.
In typical Hi-Rez fashion, Divine Knockout will also be launching with a Founder’s Edition, which will include the full game, 8 Gods and some cosmetic items, along with an Ultimate Edition that features even more Gods and cosmetics. While the full game will include more purchasable items like skins, banners and KO effects, gameplay items like Traits and Blessing are all earned by just playing the game. You can also unlock new Gods just by playing the game too.
Alex promises that there’ll be more to look forward to with Divine Knockout after launch, with “new characters, maps, and game modes throughout the year,” but he also stressed that the future of Divine Knockout is in the hands of the player base: “We’re going to build the DKO that our players want to play. We want to be really active in listening to what our fans want, how they like playing DKO, and keep giving them more of that.”
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